Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers on September 22nd 2015
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.
I first heard about Blood and Salt by Kim Liggett as I was preparing to attend BEA (BookExpo America). I was really excited when I found out the author was going to be there signing ARCs of Blood and Salt and she immediately went on my list of MUST meet authors. Meeting Kim was a pleasure, she is funny, friendly, and my kind of weird. I love a good scary story, and this one is definitely up there on the creepy meter. I ended up dreaming with cornfields, which will never look the same to me now that I finished reading this deliciously eerie story.
Blood and Salt has a little of everything in it. There is romance, unrequited love, magic, immortality, betrayal, horror, a “cult-like” society, ghosts, cornfields, murder, suspense and sacrifice. The story burrows into your skin, lingering and giving you the willies for days after you read it. To me, that’s awesome…but then again I’m a bit odd.
The Larkin family tree extends back many generations to one of the original founders of the Quivira society: Katia. The Quivira residents believe in immortality, and apparently Katia is still with them as one of these immortals. It is believed that when Katia finds two vessels (one for herself- a girl from the Larkin bloodline) and one for her lost love Alonso (a boy from the Mendoza bloodline) they will be able to once again reunite in the flesh and all the faithful of Quivira will also be granted immortality. Each year, for generations and generations a vessel from each of the two family lines are chosen to represent Katia and Alonso and they are sent to “walk the corn” together. The only problem is that they never return. The residents of Quivira believe that the reason for them not returning is because they weren’t the right vessels. They also believe that the un-chosen vessels are then released to the world outside of Quivira, but is that really what happens?
Ashlyn/Ash Larkin and her twin brother Rhys were raised by their eccentric mother who once belonged to the cult-like commune of Quivira. Ashlyn is plagued by a vision of a dead girl, with a deep scar cut into her hand, hanging from the ceiling. (This is actually how the book starts…no trigger warning…just jumps right in with the blood and death). She has seen the vision for as long as she remembers and lately, the girl has started to look more and more like Ash and she has no idea why this is. Her mother insists on tattooing her with invisible ink with symbols of protection to help keep the visions at bay. Ash has always been more accepting of her mom’s dabblings with alchemy and magic but Rhys has never liked it. Rhys has always been the cautious one while Ash is more willing to explore. They come home one day to find that their mother is missing, and apparently heading back to Quivira. Ash and Rhys immediately set out to find and bring their mother back home, but what they don’t realize is that the cornfields of Quivira has other plans for them.
While in Quivira and waiting to figure out where their mother is, Ash and Rhys befriend a girl named Beth, and Ash feels a strong pull towards a boy named Dane. Dane is of “Mixed” blood which means he has both Mendoza blood, and the evil Coronado family blood in him. Ash is drawn to him instantly, and she can’t help but want to be with him. The residents of Quivira make it clear that any type of relationship between them is impossible because Ash’s bloodline will never be mixed with anyone that has Coronado blood (for Coronado was the enemy and destroyer of the Larkin bloodline). Even still, Ash desperately wants to be with Dane. Dane also clearly has feelings for Ash, but he also has secrets he’s holding onto. Usually, I am not a fan of instalove, but this didn’t feel like puppy love or lust, it was more a feeling of destiny, and it’s not like they were immediately making out or anything like that.
I don’t want to say any more about the story because I really don’t want to give anything away. It kept me on the edge of my seat and I loved every chilling minute of it. It is the kind of book you should read at night, in bed and under your covers. Definitely the type of book perfect for reading in October, when there is a chill in the air, and plenty of darkness and corn to go around. Better yet, I dare you to read Blood and Salt, and go for a walk in a cornfield, at night.