I received this book for free from Publisher 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
Published by Penguin on September 22nd 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Horror & Ghost Stories, Love & Romance
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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.
From the Hardcover edition.
You know those kids who read books like Goosebumps and then graduated to Stephen King and always were watching either So Weird or The X Files? I was totally one of those kids. Thus, Blood And Salt by debut author Kim Liggett really appealed to me. This book has been pitched as Romeo And Juliet meets Children Of The Corn and I would have to say that as far as pitches go, that is fairly accurate. There’s lots of corn (evil corn, FYI) and a doomed romance that can’t happen due to one’s background heritage. Overall, Blood And Salt is an okay book, but not one that I see myself ever actually re-reading or thinking about now that I’ve closed the cover on it.
Blood And Salt is about this girl named Ashlyn who starts the book living in a New York City apartment with her mother and twin brother, Rhys. Her mother is a bit of a hippie, which is important to the storyline. We open and Ash sees a dead girl on her kitchen table. From there, her mom puts some ward marks on her. Ash endures to humor her mother. From there, Ash and Rhys go to school and come back to see that their mother has left, gone to this Utopia that she was raised in called Quiviria, which is in the middle of some corn stalks in Kansas. And so, Ash and Rhys decide to grab some gold from their mother’s stash and follow her. This is where Ash finally meets a boy she likes, Dane, but also discovers that her mother is a vessel for a deity named Katia who has promised that she will make the residents of Quiviria immortal if they help bring her lover Alsonso back. MEANWHILE, there’s also an immortal named Coronado who betrayed Katia. Let’s just say there is a whole lot of world building going on in Liggett’s debut.
Ashlyn is, like I said, the main character. I am not sure how I feel about her. I mean, yes she’s interesting. However, she falls hook line and sinker for the whole Quiviria thing really easily. And she’s also so terrible at communicating with her brother. Furthermore, she does come across as a bit selfish. Yet, I chalked it all up to her weird upbringing. I did like the scenes where she acts as a conduit and flashes back to Katia and then Katia’s daughter, Marie. Those parts were actually really interesting and engaging and where the book is at it’s strongest.
So, the romance between Ashlyn and Dane is a bit intense – even despite Dane just not having it with Ashlyn because she’s not a Mixed like he is. But then again, Dane does some mad sketchy things and I am just not entirely sure how I feel about these characters. There is like maybe a smidge of kissing, but that’s kind of it. I am not overly impressed with the romance.
I think where this book, Blood And Salt, mostly loses me is in the world building that is specific to the use of American Indians. I am an occasional reader of American Indians In Children’s Lit, which is a blog run by Professor Debbie Reese and about representations of American Indians in Children’s Lit. So, I have picked up a few things from reading her site. One of those things is to feel uncomfortable when there is a stereotypical representation of Native Americans and also to think critically when I come across these depictions. So, in this book, Blood And Salt, there is a Native American tribe led by a woman named Aiyana. Aiyana has magical powers that allow for people to become immortal. She gets into a falling out with Katia, but anyways, the majority of her tribe is killed trying to protect the white residents of Quivira, like back in the past. It is just so uncomfortable to read now that I am a little bit more educated about how these sorts of depictions affect people. I think this stereotype is the magical Native American stereotype who exists solely to save the white person or to teach the white person something, and that’s just not okay. But, maybe I am reading it wrong.
The other thing that I did not love about Blood And Salt is that it is a kind of slow, meandering book. I thought I would whip through it, but I did not. I had a tough time really getting into it. Also? The ending is so open that I feel there’s going to be a sequel and it just bothers me when the book leaves no plot thread tied up. It is all loose ends.
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