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.
When I hear that a book is about a cult, I usually stay away because a) they freak me out and b) I haven’t had the best experience with books about cults. That being said, the only book that I read with a cult that didn’t work for me was Gated by Amy Christine Parker, but I had been hearing such good things about Blood and Salt by Kim Liggett that I knew I needed to pick it up. Come on, it features a Romeo and Juliet-type romance (which I’m a sucker for) with GORY FUN. Blood and Salt proved to be somewhat close to what I hoped for, but it fell flat in some aspects.
YES TO THE GOOSEBUMPS
I expected lots of goosebumps and chills from Blood and Salt and let me tell you – I got what I hoped for! From the first sentence I was already snuggling deeper under my covers because it was so creepy. Liggett consistently keeps up the creeps with frequent bloody scenes, mystery and cult craziness, of course! The story itself isn’t gory to the point of a slasher film, but it’s definitely creepier than most YA stories I’ve come across.
Also, who knew corn could be so evil? The story itself is set mostly in a cornfield, and bloody sh*t goes down because of the corn… Consider yourself warned.
ENDEARING SIDE CHARACTERS
I really loved the characters Liggett created to surround Ash.
+ Rhys is Ash’s twin brother. This fraternal pair couldn’t be more compatible. Rhys is perfect in that boyish yet chivalrous way, and doesn’t hesitate to keep his sister safe.
+ Beth befriends Ash and Rhys, and I couldn’t help but love her immediately! She’s cute, quirky, and also very caring. She’s kind of like that girl who will always have your back.
I DID GET A LITTLE LOST IN THE STORY
It’s weird, because I know that the story Liggett has composed is complex and fascinating; I certainly felt engrossed in the history of the cult, but at the same time, it was confusing and a bit convoluted in terms of the explanation. I noticed that Beth, the side character, does most of the info-dumping at the beginning of the story. Details got lost for me precisely because of the dump – it’s much like cramming for a test because the brain doesn’t retain the information. However, I was still intrigued and fully invested in the story.
My takeaway is to read the beginning slowly and write down notes if you have to!
MIXED FEELINGS ON THE ROMANCE
So here’s the thing about star-crossed romances: the couple is “meant to be”, and it sometimes excuses the fact that the couple falls in love instantly because the universe made them that way.
This is the situation in Blood and Salt. Ash doesn’t fall in love quickly with Dane exactly, but there was no genuine love between them, only the fact that they were “meant to be”. And that was that. The romance plays a pretty large role in the conflict of the story and ends on a really interesting note though, so I’m interested to see where it goes in the future.
I have to say that I did really enjoy Blood and Salt, despite the iffy romance and execution of the cult world. The creepiness was exactly what I was looking for and I loved the side characters. While a little confusing, the world in Blood and Salt is riveting and makes for a great page-turner.