Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Blood and Salt by Kim Liggett

Blood and Salt by Kim Liggett
Release Date - September 22, 2015
Publisher Website - Penguin Random House
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  352 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received for honest review from the publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Romeo and Juliet meets Children of the Corn in this one-of-a-kind romantic horror.

“When you fall in love, you will carve out your heart and throw it into the deepest ocean. You will be all in—blood and salt.”

These are the last words Ash Larkin hears before her mother returns to the spiritual commune she escaped long ago. But when Ash follows her to Quivira, Kansas, something sinister and ancient waits among the rustling cornstalks of this village lost to time.

Ash is plagued by memories of her ancestor, Katia, which harken back to the town’s history of unrequited love and murder, alchemy and immortality. Charming traditions soon give way to a string of gruesome deaths, and Ash feels drawn to Dane, a forbidden boy with secrets of his own.

As the community prepares for a ceremony five hundred years in the making, Ash must fight not only to save her mother, but herself—and discover the truth about Quivira before it’s too late. Before she’s all in—blood and salt. 
Blood and Salt is a delicious blend of genres. You have horror, paranormal, romance, and a rich mythology that runs through every aspect of the entire novel. It's a gripping, intense d├ębut that manages to balance everything within the plot, and even throw in a little humour at the same time.

This novel does scary and sexy with a subtle precision. It's unsettling in it's scary moments, and the chemistry between Ash and Dane is palpable. It's all understated though. It gives you just enough to leave you wanting more with both the scares and romance. Novels like this work especially well for me, because I have always been a less is more sort of girl. The illusion of scariness can be scarier than full out gore. The subtly sexy can be more of a turn on than any gratuitous display in the right hands, and Kim Liggett nails both.

It's the mythology that truly shines in this story above anything else. This novel feels like a return to those paranormal romances that I loved so much, but also happens to be truly unique. It's different from anything I've ever read before, while feeling recognizable at the same time. A well thought out back story to the mythology, and the limits and constraints it may have, are key to a novel like this. It's the centrepiece of the entire story, and the time Kim Liggett spent creating it certainly shows in the rich, vibrant details of the Quivira community and their rituals.

The relationships in this novel are interesting, but it's the brother/sister dynamic between Rhys and Ash that stood out for me. There is something nuanced, and realistic about their bond that stayed with me. They balance each other incredibly well, and highlight the best and worst in each other. Their bond plays a larger role in the story than I anticipated and it was a pleasant surprise to discover. This relationship also has plenty of potential to be a vital focus in the sequel and is filled with plenty of surprises during this part of their story.

The setting of Quivira itself really feels like a character in the story. It feels like the community is a place lost in time so the result is a story that feels both timeless, and current. The setting creates it's unsettling atmosphere with it's isolated remoteness and vast (and possible sinister) corn fields. Kim spins a fantastic setting for her characters to inhabit and without it the story would not function the same way.

The ending of this novel is the kind of ending that rips your heart out, even as it piques your interest. A brutally stunning set up for the sequel, while still feeling like a complete ending to this chapter of Ash's story. This book feels like it could stand on it's own, but it would be torturous to be left with such incredibly possibilities on the horizon.  It's the type of mythology that could allow for multiple directions for the story to go in, and that leaves the sequel a tantalizing question mark.

A well plotted, wonderfully paced read that offers up some truly unique mythology. Those who like their scares with plenty of romance thrown in will devour this one and immediately demand the sequel. Kim Leggitt's Blood and Salt is perfectly timed to be a hit this Oct as it pairs wonderfully with the crisp nights of autumn. Just don't read it by a corn field. 

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