I'm a pretty easy sell when it comes to new reads, and pretty much anything horror is going to make my must have list. So when Kim Liggett's Blood and Salt started popping up with it's creepy cover and promise of being "Romeo and Juliet meets Children of the Corn..." it pretty instantly became one of the books I was most looking forward to for September.
Of course I've been bitten by works compared to Stephen King, but when the comparison is appropriate - as it turned out to be here - it's such a great reward!
Ash's life has been anything but normal. First there's the fact that Ash is haunted by a dead girl who looks just like her. Then there's her mother's bizarre upbringing. Ash and her brother, Rhys, have always heard the stories of Quivira, the cult like village where their mother grew up. But she escaped, already pregnant with Ash and Rhys, all thanks to their long dead ancestor Katia.
Or so she says. Neither Ash or Rhys is sure what to believe about their mother's stories, but when she goes missing - saying she's returned to Quivira to be Katia's vessel - they know they have to try and save her.
When they arrive in Quivira, which is indeed very real, they discover a town steeped in tradition and superstition. And it all seems a bit charming and quirky at first. But the longer Ash and Rhys are in Quivira, the more strange things become. Their mother has yet to make an appearance in spite of being the guest of honor in the town's upcoming Summer Solstice ceremony. Even worse, the dead girl is making more frequent appearances and Ash has started to get lost in memories of a past that isn't her own.
Ooh, Blood and Salt is still giving me chills! So Quivira is a town hidden amongst the corn, enchanted by Katia who is warring with Coronado. Yes, the explorer Coronado. And every year the town holds a ceremony where a Larkin girl (Ash and Rhys are Larkins) walks the corn with a boy from another Quivira family - as part of a tradition paying homage to Katia. As Ash and Rhys (and the reader) learn these things - some of which their mother has already shared with them - they find that there's much, much more to the story than longstanding tradition.
Cornfields are one thing. Thanks to King and "Children of the Corn" (the story or the many movies, you take your pick), I don't think any of us will ever look at a cornfield without just a little inkling something strange might be going on. Ever.
But then Liggett throws in alchemy, an increasingly determined spirit (who is described in great gory detail), a history that traces back to the sixteenth century, and a seriously creepy and insular community untouched by modern society. And it all works together fabulously!
Liggett is off to an amazing start, y'all. AMAZING! And Blood and Salt is only the beginning. There's already a sequel in the works for next year (and guess who'll be preordering that baby?!) plus she's got another two titles slated to come out from Tor (the first of which will also be 2016 and seems to be another rural/folk horror read - um "Friday Night Lights meets Rosemary's Baby" DEFINITELY HAVE TO HAVE!).
Warning: book hangover likely!