cover image The Salt Grows Heavy

The Salt Grows Heavy

Cassandra Khaw. Nightfire, $21.99 (112p) ISBN 978-1-250-83091-3

In this twisting and pitch-black horror tale from Khaw (Nothing but Blackened Teeth), a voiceless mermaid plucked from the ocean ventures into a snowy forest alongside a melancholy plague doctor. These unlikely traveling companions soon encounter a village of mutilated children and uncover the architects of this bizarre encampment: three surgeons obsessed with immortality and the reconstitution of the body. As more of the village’s terrible secrets come to light, the mermaid and the plague doctor must rely on each other to survive. Khaw’s prose is rich and gorgeous (“In my dreams, I still swim that soundless black, still travel its eddies of salt and cold nothing”), and the surprising tenderness at the story’s heart is only magnified by the violence and gore that surround it. Both elements prove devastatingly effective in constructing a folklore-infused world that feels wholly unique for contemporary horror fiction. Expertly blending a gothic atmosphere with elements of splatterpunk, this brilliant novella is not to be missed. (May)