Book Review: The Salt Grows Heavy

05.04.2023 | Tor Nightfire
Rating: 4/5 stars


You may think you know how the fairytale goes: a mermaid comes to shore and weds the prince. But what the fables forget is that mermaids have teeth. And now, her daughters have devoured the kingdom and burned it to ashes.

On the run, the mermaid is joined by a mysterious plague doctor with a darkness of their own. Deep in the eerie, snow-crusted forest, the pair stumble upon a village of ageless children who thirst for blood, and the three ‘saints’ who control them.

The mermaid and her doctor must embrace the cruelest parts of their true nature if they hope to survive.

You know what I’ve not read enough about in the horror genre? Mermaids! 

Cassandra Khaw has delivered a horror novella that is seeped in folklore, cults, and vengeance. I love that Khaw has taken the story we all know about a certain mermaid and flipped it into something you could imagine Guillermo del Toro putting on the screen. Khaw’s writing is so vivid and imaginative that the reader can’t help being consumed by this story. There were parts where I really wanted to look away, but I just couldn’t stop wanting to know what was going to happen next. I did find myself googling a few terms here and there that were words like bezoar, that I’m not familiar with. It didn’t take away from the story and if anything served to continue peaking my interest. 

I think it’s safe to say that Khaw is the only writer I know of who could somehow manage to sneak a love story into this novella. When the hints first started flying I thought no way and then like magic, they made it come to life in the most natural and fitting of ways, completely authentic to the rest of this story.

Bonus: This novella has possibly one of my favorite lines ever…
“It is always interesting to see how often women are described as ravenous when it is the men who, without exception, take without thought of compensation.”

A huge thank you to Tor Nightfire for my gifted copy!

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