... creepy, gorgeous ... visually stunning. Of course, a novella is just words but Khaw's command of language in service of an image — their brilliance when it comes to wedding image with emotion — is sheer perfection here, with gorgeous turns of phrase that deepen our understanding of the characters and their responses to one another. Atmosphere seeps from every page, and you really feel like you too are exploring this house, like this house is closing around you, too. You feel like you just might be able to notice what's wrong, or where the wrongness is springing from, before anybody else ... I like the characters. They form a unit more because of shared history than because they would be friends in the present, which serves this particular type of story very well. Readers will get frustrated with one person's choices and say 'Why are you being so stupid?' or 'Don't do that!' — but so will another character. One of Khaw's strengths is their ability to show fully realized, nuanced social dynamics. That said, one character remained a bit of a question mark in a way which might have gone unnoticed if how the others related to or felt about each other wasn't so clear. If we knew this character better, the climax would have had just a little more oof. Don't get me wrong, the climax has oof, is plenty gut-wrenching, but it might have been a little keener ... This is a creepy, meticulously-crafted tragedy and frankly, one of the most beautifully written haunted stories I've ever read. As in the best ghost stories, the house is full of ghosts, but it's the people who are the houses. We're haunted by our histories, by the ugly things we want to keep buried, by the things we just can't let go. Nothing But Blackened Teeth will linger with you.
... [a] brilliant novella full of psychological horror, guts, and teeth. Thoroughly immersed in Japanese folklore, Nothing but Blackened Teeth is not only a ghost story, but also a fascinatingly illustrative dive into the Japanese literary tradition of the kaidan, as well as its myths, legends, and supernatural spirits ... combines a hundred forms of horror in its 128 pages. Body horror, psychological horror, gore, lore, monsters, ghosts, and haunted houses, this is an absolute funhouse for the horror junkies ... A remarkable aspect of this novella is that its cultural references are not watered down to fit into the constrains of Western horror. This is magnificently unapologetic and offers the minimal explanation of terms and cultural references, so there is a gorgeous array of Japanese imagery and folklore for the unknowing reader to research and discover ... All of these elements are tied up together by a gorgeous writing style that almost turns prose into poetry. Wielding the most colourful metaphors and elevated words, Khaw creates a gorgeous contrast between the daintiness of her narration and the raw harshness of the direction the plot takes. But the author doesn’t limit her prose to it, she also grabs the bull by the horns and uses the most predictable tropes of the horror genre to her advantage ... feast for the senses. Deeply enriching, twisted, and deliciously dark, the upcoming novella is a definite must-read. Let the Ohaguro Bettari and her army of yōkai sink their teeth into you, and try and see whether you’d be able to escape the Heian mansion alive. The adrenaline rush is definitely worth the attempt.
Khaw delivers a fresh new twist on the haunted house tale ... Khaw’s ability to dive deep in the specificity of her characters’ experiences shines here, and may have something to do with her experience with role player games ... The creatures’ cartoonishness occasionally threatens to undermine the scares in the book, though the voice that Cat hears in her head won’t disappoint readers craving horror ... [Khaw's] prose is lush and evocative, reminiscent of literary horror writers like Carmen Maria Machado, and Nothing But Blackened Teeth is a delicacy of supernatural horror garnished with blood. On a fear scale of zero to agonizing terror, Khaw’s novella lands firmly on: better keep a nightlight on tonight.
... a brooding horror story that incorporates Japanese mythology in colorful, excruciating detail, including spirits such as yōkai and bake-danuki in addition to the malicious, ghostly bride. Cat’s relative familiarity with Japanese culture (she is Chinese and grew up in Malaysia) means that she is quick to identify certain beings but doesn’t spend unrealistic amounts of time explaining significant details for the audience, a careful balance of clarity and obscurity that will appeal to Japanese horror aficionados and newcomers alike ... Khaw builds horror slowly and evenly. Rather than sporadically appearing to frighten and terrorize the young squad of not-quite-friends, the spirits of the house appear with steadily increasing frequency until they are simply present in every scene. By the novella’s climax, the tension has increased to such an unbearable degree that the final burst of violence is more expected than surprising ... Readers looking for bite-size horror on a stormy night will appreciate Khaw’s twisted tale of foolish young adults, all of whom are poorly prepared for the effects their decisions will have on their psyches (and lives).
Brooding and dark, Nothing but Blackened Teeth drew me in and kept me off-balance. Always on the precipice of scary, it never quite tipped over. Instead, it stayed an eerie book, one that has crawled its way into my head. I’ll be thinking about it for a long while, reliving bits and pieces of the creepy story ... In all honestly, the origin story for the haunting is the part that I found to be the weakest. It just didn’t inspire that anticipatory shiver that I was hoping for ... The tropes became jumping-off points for complex, multi-faceted characters, each with their own flaws and fears. Half of the fun of Nothing but Blackened Teeth was watching the complicated relationships fray and slowly dissolve as the characters’ pasts caught up to them ... It’s these tangled relationships and hidden emotions that really elevate Nothing but Blackened Teeth to the fascinating tale that it is ... a riveting book, perfect for fans of creepy tales with a little extra bite.
... fills the mouth like a big bite of tendon—meat that requires chewing with all the muscle in your jaw, mixing savor with a visceral density. As a novella, of course, 'one big bite' is especially apt. At the exact moment the brutality of the climax started to provoke the first wash of nausea for me, the grisly tension unspools and the remainder can be swallowed whole.
Cat’s emotional pain radiates from the pages, making the supernatural elements more tense and frayed as the tension mounts. If Guillermo del Toro directed The Ring, it might play out something like this engaging thriller. Japanese mythological creatures come to life in this dynamic, unique tale that will satisfy horror readers eager for fresh blood.
The atmosphere, the characters, and their strained, complicated relationships are carefully constructed and slowly revealed, until the group finds itself in the middle of a nightmare, stalked by a faceless woman in white as they fight to leave the mansion alive. The conclusion will leave all unsettled, haunting both characters and readers ... As if the set-up doesn’t sell itself, the book also has a creepy cover that’s perfect for display. Recommend to those who love tales of haunted houses with menacing and dangerous histories that reach out from beyond the grave to entrap the living.
Khaw’s prose oozes dread as malevolent creatures from Japanese mythology swarm the pages and the characters’ interpersonal relationships crash and burn. Horror readers and folklore fans will find this tale of terror to be brutally satisfying.