I received this book free from First to Read Program in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Blood and Salt by Kim Liggett
Series: Blood and Salt #1
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons on September 22nd 2015
Genres: Horror, Romance
Source: First to Read Program
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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 was easily my most anticipated YA horror of the year. Alas, I’m slowly losing faith that I’ll ever find something that is worthwhile. This isn’t to say that there isn’t enjoyment to be found, I’m just clearly not the targeted reader. Considering horror is one of my favorite genres you would think there wouldn’t be a difference but the way the YA versions always seem to be written just doesn’t do it for me. I was leery about this one from the get go, because honestly? Romeo and Juliet meets Children of the Corn?
There’s something I find thoroughly compelling about cults. How did they begin? How were people allured into this following? I read another cult-ish YA novel earlier this year that did a superb job at illustrating it all and at the same time leaving you completely unsettled; reading about cults should leave you feeling like that. Alas, the cult in Blood and Salt lacked the unsettling feeling, but rather had so many plot holes in the logistics of it all that I was more or less just confused.
Ashlyn and her twin brother Rhys have been raised by their mother who grew up in a cult in the middle of the corn fields in Kansas. The cult centers around the belief that their ancestor, Katia, has been waiting for centuries to be reunited with her lover who was murdered. The only thing she is waiting for are appropriate “vessels” for her and her lovers’ souls to be able to use to finally be together. The rest of the followers believe that once this happens, Katia will share her immortality with them. When Ashlyn and Rhys find their mother has disappeared one day, they think that she was meant to be Katia’s vessel, and they set off to the corn fields of Kansas to save her. Immortality, a hint of alchemy, and cannibalistic corn (or cornnibalism as Dani so eloquently put it) could have been a most excellent story but I felt that too many aspects of this story were left tragically unexplained.
From the very start, this book requires quite a bit of suspension of disbelief. Ash and Rhys have both grown up in the modern day, but Ash is always seeing this random dead girl that hangs from a rope by her ankles and who coincidentally seems to look exactly like her. There’s little to no explanation for this, but her mother knows and occasionally gives her a new tattoo that is meant to protect her. When Ashlyn receives the voicemail from her mother saying that she’s gone to “walk the corn” one final time, the twins set out to Kansas immediately, driving the twenty hours straight to get there. Ash’s immediate acceptance of this cult and their belief systems was a bit far fetched and upon their arrival begins having visions of Katia that only succeed in confusing the story even more. There’s also her immediate attraction (by his scent, no less) to an individual that she’s immediately told she can’t be with, that he’s of mixed bloodlines and that sort of thing just isn’t allowed. So naturally she’s obsessed with him. Because apparently he smells that good.
Of course he’s gorgeous too.
‘…he was the kind of beautiful that made me think I might still be hallucinating.’
Followed shortly by:
‘I’d never felt such a strong physical attraction to anyone.
Even if it was just for a fleeting moment, he seemed to make all my problems disappear. I wanted to bottle that feeling and carry it around in my pocket. The thought of kidnapping him crossed my mind.’
I really should have called it a day.
It only continued.
‘He coaxed the bottle away from me and took a deep swig. […]
I snatched it back and took another drink, not because I wanted more, but because his lips had just touched the bottle.’
‘Firelight was kind to just about everyone, but what it did to Dane’s face was… criminal.’
‘For a moment, I wondered if I’d imagined our kiss last night, but he glanced down at my lips like he owned them.’
While all this is going on, she’s practically forgotten all about her prior concerns for her mother, the memory flashes continue to complicate everything, and she continues to fall deeply in love within the span of about 3 days. The out of nowhere plot development for her brothers side of the story didn’t help anything either. Given the fact that this is the first in a series, I would have hoped for a bit more character development and definitely more relationship development, but the lack of both left this one a most befuddling read for me. The ending lacked real resolution, just ending with the intent to bring readers back for the next installment but unfortunately the first installment didn’t hook me enough to be invested in seeking out the sequel.