Cassandra Khaw’s Nothing But Blackened Teeth – a gorgeously creepy haunted house tale steeped in Japanese folklore and full of devastating twists – will be published by Nightfire in October 2021!
A Heian-era mansion stands abandoned, its foundations resting on the bones of a bride and its walls packed with the remains of the girls sacrificed to keep her company.
It’s the perfect wedding venue for a group of thrill-seeking friends.
But a night of food, drinks, and games quickly spirals into a nightmare. For lurking in the shadows is the ghost bride with a black smile and a hungry heart.
And she gets lonely down there in the dirt.
Here’s what two of our editors have to say about the novella:
Ellen Datlow, consulting editor at Nightfire, told us:
“Cassandra Khaw is a terrific writer with a unique voice. I’ve known that since I read her dark novella Hammers on Bone. I immediately wanted to read more by her and I’ve been lucky enough to acquire her stories for Tor.com and my anthologies. I’m especially delighted to have acquired and worked with her on Nothing But Blackened Teeth. Readers are in for a treat.”
And from Kristin Temple, assistant editor at Nightfire:
“When Ellen sent this to us, I opened it to take a quick look then immediately devoured it. Nothing But Blackened Teeth has everything I love—a haunted house with a unique twist, messy characters, gorgeously creepy writing, and a ghost bride so wicked she’ll give you nightmares. The whole Nightfire team is so excited about this novella—we can’t wait for readers to get their hands on it.”
And from Cassandra Khaw herself:
“I wrote Nothing But Blackened Teeth during a bad phase in my life. I had found out that my father hadn’t died of a heart attack; it was a suicide. But for the last year or so, I’d thought otherwise. And what I discovered from all this is that grief, when it heals, has a shape. It’s a raised scar, meant to hold your psyche together in a specific way.
So, when the truth came out, it all tore loose again, and I came apart at the seams, unsure what to do because it felt like you’re allowed to only go through the grieving process once. To do it again seemed… hedonistic, almost.
During that time, I was lucky to have the support of friends and family. But I was also unlucky too, in a way, because I found out that some people will take advantage of a person in grief, pushing boundaries, taking too much, running roughshod over one’s trust. I realized then that I held onto a lot of relationships back home because of familiarity, because that’s what you *do* — you keep your long-standing friendships as long and as tightly as you can.
Nothing But Blackened Teeth came out of that, and wondering what happens when people are given an opportunity to act on the darker impulses. What excuses we give ourselves, we give others. It’s not a triumphant book. It’s probably the bleakest one I’ve written, the first book of mine that I’d really consider horror? It’s ugly in a way that makes me hesitate to say, ‘I hope you all enjoy reading it when it comes out.’
But I hope some parts of it will resonate.”
But there’s more – a devastatingly talented lineup of horror and fantasy authors have weighed in on Khaw’s novella as well:
“Khaw is a prose wizard who has quickly become an auto-buy for me. This story of a wedding at a malevolent manor is as unexpected and delightful as her poetic approach to horror, and I loved every sharp, delicious twist of it.” —Kevin Hearne, New York Times bestselling author of the Iron Druid Chronicles (and to see more praise from Kevin, check out his glowing Twitter thread!)
“Imagine chucking The House on Haunted Hill, Japanese folklore, Clive Barker, and Kathy Acker into a literary blender. Nothing But Blackened Teeth reads like the ghost-punk noir you never knew you needed. It’s sharp, playful, and as nasty as hell.” —Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts and Survivor Song
“Khaw’s tale seems to come at you straight, setting up your story expectations, but then twists the knife at the last minute, leaving you reeling, but wanting more.” —Richard Kadrey, New York Times bestselling author of the Sandman Slim series
“Khaw’s got a sterling premise, enduring lore, and the fresh talent to voice it.” —Josh Malerman, New York Times bestselling author of Bird Box
“This is Hill House for this century, this is Belasco House with people we’ve known since third grade, and it’s got a smile so wicked you might just have to grin along with it. I know I did.” —Stephen Graham Jones, author of The Only Good Indians
“Cassandra is always compulsively readable. This was a wonderful haunted-house story, modern characterizations in compelling tension with a lyrically beautiful ancient Japanese residence.” —Kij Johnson, winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards
“A deft and creepy haunted house story, written in a lyrical style that heightens the disorienting, phantasmagoric nature of the tale. Nothing But Blackened Teeth is the kind of story you lose sleep over.” —Brian Evenson, author of Song for the Unraveling of the World
Cassandra Khaw is a scriptwriter in Ubisoft Montreal. Her work can be found in F&SF, Lightspeed, Tor.com, and Strange Horizons. She has also contributed to titles like Sunless Skies, Fallen London, Wasteland 3, and She Remembered Caterpillars, which won the German Game Award for Best Children’s Game. Hammers on Bone, her first novella, was nominated for the Locus Award and the British Fantasy Award. Cassandra’s next book — a haunted house novella — is slated for release by Nightfire in 2021.
Nothing But Blackened Teeth will hit shelves on October 19, 2021 – in the meantime, you can read Persons Non Grata, Khaw’s cosmic horror noir duology, “These Deathless Bones,” her Tor.com short story, and follow her on Twitter for more.