By Cynthia Ayala
Ash Larkin has been haunted by the past. A past that was never her own, a past from a time so long ago. Images of a dead girl have haunted her since she was a child. But when a ghost from the past comes for her and her mother goes missing, Ash and her twin brother must venture to Kansas to find the cult her mother once as part of in order to seal everyone’s fate and save her mother. But something darker, older, has different plans for her….
Published on September 22, 2015 by G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, Blood and Salt by Kim Liggett is a young adult horror and romance novel written in a very creative way to incorporate suspense and romance into one 352-page book without weighing the book down in a convoluted mess.
Liggett’s novel follows 17-year-old Ash who is plagued by visions of things she never knew about. Visions and ghosts haunt her and there is something mysterious about all of that. From the opening line, Liggett creates a sense of horror and mystery right from the beginning of the novel that works to suck in the reader. It’s frightening, it’s bright and the scene specifics mimic the cover with a red boldness that fills the readers minds. Every mention of blood is vibrant; it hits the reader with this intense emotion that makes the scene even more vibrant, more description and even more captivating than just reading. It has a pull on the reader and the haunting story line also adds to the hypnotic aspect of the story.
The construction of the scenes is the captivating part of the novel itself because Liggett has a powerful imagination and is able to paint this contemporary yet otherworldly world. It’s imaginative and vivid. It even outshines the characterization, which isn’t bad but isn’t all together amazing either. These characters act as frames. There is something there about each of them that adds to the story, but their own depth seems miniscule. They feel very two-dimensional which is a shame because, otherwise, they are written very well. These characters have a lot of chemistry with one another and some of them, especially some of the more minor characters. Most of the story is driven by a monotonous and repetitive inner monologue that just circles around these few central ideas. They don’t add much depth to the character and instead make her seem likes she’s not the strong character that she should be. What makes her strong are her actions that have the will the character doesn’t much have within herself. The main character, Ash, doesn’t start to get really interesting until the very end of the story when every truth and lie has been revealed and the there is nothing left for the reader.
This book is constantly being sold as a “Romeo and Juliet meets Children of the Corn” story, but while the imagery is all there, both of those elements, the romance and horror, do not seem to be present. It’s a good story, and is, for the most part, very well written, but the romance just isn’t loud enough and neither is the horror. If anything, this novel is more of a mystery novel than anything else and if one were to read it as that, they would enjoy it immensely because as Ash investigates and as the world around her becomes more and more confusing, the story holds together and is captivating. Forget the romance and the horror and just focus on the ever-present mystery of the novel because that is the winning aspect of the writing and the story. (★★★★☆| B-)