Title: Blood and Salt by Kim Liggett
Blood and Salt Series Book One
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Supernatural, Horror, Romance
Length: 346 pages
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Penguin’s First to Read Program
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.
Blood and Salt is an engrossing and rather creepy young adult romance with supernatural elements. This debut novel by Kim Liggett centers on Ashlyn “Ash” Larkin, a centuries old family curse and a mysterious spiritual commune in the middle of a cornfield in Quivira, Kansas.
The history of Quivira is rather convoluted, goes back centuries and features a love triangle between Katia Larkin, Alonso Mendoza and Spanish explorer Coronado. Katia’s quest for immortality results in betrayal and death and the Larkin women are called upon to carry out their fate in Quivira as Katia’s “vessel”. Nina Larkin escaped from Quivira before giving birth to twins Ash and Rhys seventeen years earlier. The family now lives in New York, but just before the summer solstice, Nina returns to Quivira to fulfill her destiny as a vessel for her ancestor Katia. Desperate to find their mother, Ash and Rhys travel to the eerie cornfield to save their mother from what they consider to be a religious cult. However, unbeknownst to Rhys, Ash’s lifelong visions of a hanging girl have increased in frequency and she soon realizes these images are memories of events that occurred centuries earlier. Upon arrival in Quiriva, these horrifying images take an ominous turn and Ash quickly becomes increasingly concerned for their safety.
Modern day Quivira clings to the traditions of the past and Ash figures heavily into their quest for immortality. She and Rhys are aided by Beth, a “seer” whose visions once foretold the future before a severe head injury quieted her gift. Ash is immediately enthralled by Dane, a charismatic young man whom she is forbidden to love due to his mixed bloodlines. The rest of the villagers seem mostly harmless but Ash quickly senses evil when she meets their current leader, Spencer Mendoza.
Ash is swiftly drawn into the rituals of Quivira and despite Rhys’s pleas to leave, she is determined to rescue their mother. With her visions becoming more and more frequent, she realizes the hanging girl seems to be trying to tell her something. With Dane at her side to protect her, Ash eagerly allows the hallucinations free rein and she soon realizes the horrifying truth. But is it too late to stop the diabolical plan that Katia has unleashed?
Blood and Salt is a suspense-laden horror story that is full of unexpected twists and turns. The novel is fast-faced and quite riveting and Kim Liggett easily captures the reader’s attention with the inventive storyline. Thundering to a dramatic and completely unexpected conclusion, this first installment in the Blood and Salt series will leave readers impatiently awaiting the next book in this ingenious series.