Nothing But Blackened Teeth Book Review
Sometimes there is merit to the phrase "don't judge a book by its cover." When I saw the cover of Nothing but Blackened Teeth, I was dying to read it and looking forward to a short, spooky read I could cozy up with this season. In the end, I was left wanting.
Today's a sad day—it's my first bad review.
Category: Spooky Read
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RATING: 1.5/5 Stars
Plot: 1/5 stars
Characters: 0/5 stars
World: 1/5 stars
The first line was a decent hook, but it went downhill from there. This story follows the narrator as they meet up with a group of "friends" (more on that later) to celebrate a wedding in a haunted house. Sounds fun and spooky, right?
But between tons of editing and formatting errors and low quality writing, it became apparent this was not a well-written book. I almost DNF'd it. But since it was so short, I decided to push through, hoping for some redeeming qualities. But...
For a story featuring thrill-seeking ghost hunters, there was little action. A ghost shows up, and the characters start freaking out, but no one does much of anything. They stand around arguing, fighting, or smoking. It’s much the same with the ghost and spirits. The ghost occasionally touches them but does not cause harm, and it either mimics or possesses one person—I can’t remember which. The accompanying minor spirits follow, watch, and occasionally applaud their arguing? Any violence in the book is caused by the characters themselves.
No one tries to escape, yet they are all convinced they're trapped and going to die. When something did further the plot, it was told more than shown and very abrupt. The ending came quickly and was way too neat to be believable.
The writing fluctuates between beautiful and overly ambitious in its attempt to be poetic, using obscure words and tons of metaphoric descriptions. It was hard to get into a reading flow when I had to constantly pull out a dictionary to look up a word.
There's a ridiculous amount of metaphor and imagery, often beginning with “I thought of…”. This often repeats, one “thought” bleeding into another—for full paragraphs!
While some of the imagery is beautiful and vivid, the dialogue and descriptions are sometimes confusing or do not make sense. One moment, the main character is speaking normally then unable to do so, then back to speaking without issue—for no reason other than “she was drunk.”
The dialogue gets repetitive, and the author uses “Jesus” and “fuck” on almost every page after a certain point. They also use “froth” and mention scrotums numerous times, and describe random memories that have absolutely no connection to the story. Much of the dialogue is stilted and sloppy.
“…Sorry. No hard feelings. But I’d like this to be a happy thing, you know? Just. Can you take— actually, I don’t know, you know?”
Lastly, the format and spacing changes from one page to another, making them off-center, which bugged my perfectionist brain.
I kept wondering why the hell these people would be on a trip abroad together when there is so much animosity between them due to them all having dated and/or slept with each other at some point. The girls do not get along and are nasty to each other. The boys are not close either; two seem to have a tentative, unhealthy relationship, while one acts as if he doesn’t remember the groom. Everyone seems annoyed or exasperated with the main character, who’s apparently recovering from some form of trauma or depression that is never explained or explored. Sadly, despite all the potential for it, there is zero character growth.
Oh, and the narrator says they’ve known each other for over a decade, ever since they were sixteen, but they’re twenty-four when the story takes place.
And for all their supposed knowledge about horror stories and the supernatural, the characters honestly felt a bit dumb. There are several almost-fourth-wall moments where the characters reference what usually happens in horror stories, but for people who know the formula well, they did little to work around it. At one point, the narrator talks about how she thinks one trope is lazy, yet the author uses it. Then the narrator talks about why that instance is an exception. Honestly, it's as if the author was being condescending while using the same tropes and trying too hard to write beautifully and completely failing.
It's also evident that the author has strong opinions about the wealthy and privileged. Which is understandable, and there were some very valid points made. Another prominent issue in the book is being unfaithful in romantic relationships.
One of the best things about this book is the setting and atmosphere. The story takes place in an old abandoned Japanese home said to be haunted by a bride whose groom never came. A neat but weird venue for a wedding.
The narrator's descriptions of the setting and the characters' dinner feast pulls much of the weight; the atmosphere is spooky and the food sounds delicious. And I did enjoy the lore.
I don’t like giving bad reviews, but I have to be honest: this was one of the worst books I’ve ever read. The cover is awesome and premise was interesting, but it was not executed well. I was hoping for a short, sweet, spooky book to enjoy a night with. I was instead seriously let down by the lack of action, unbelievable characters, and bad dialogue and writing. But with better editing, more believable characters, and a little fleshing out, this story could have been amazing.