Book Review: “Blood and Salt” by Kim Liggett

Ash and her twin brother Rhys have never thought too much about the fact that their mother escaped from a cult in Kansas just a few months before they were born. Sure, she makes her living creating extraordinary perfumes, burns sage around the house to cleanse it, and gives Ash invisible tattoos that are meant to protect her – but Ash is mostly focused on the dead girl she’s been seeing hanging from the ceiling all her life. It’s only once their mother disappears, letting them know she’s returned to Quivira, Kansas to be a vessel for the immortal Katia, that the two realize that their mother’s past isn’t so much in the past after all.

The pair set out across the country to find the mysterious settlement, which some believe to be a utopia. When they arrive at the location where their GPS says Quivira is, all they find is a dense field of corn and lots of abandoned cars. Still, they soon find themselves wandering into a community that seems like something out of the past. Ash is soon whisked away to take part in an ancient wreathing ceremony, which the residents of Quivira say her ancestors have been taking part in for generations, and she and her brother are told that their mother has been taken to New Mexico for safekeeping until the night a few days from now when she’ll be made into a vessel for Katia’s soul. The longer they spend in Quivira, the easier it is to see that things aren’t right. For one thing, Ash keeps having visions of the past – glimpses of Katia, her lover Alonso, her enemy Coronado, and her daughter Marie. For another, the corn won’t let them leave Quivira.

Blood and Salt is part fantasy, part mystery, and part horror story, all of which combine to move the story along at lightning-fast pace. If you’re looking for a page-turner, you’ve found one here. The world Liggett has created is dense and gruesome, but the longer you read, the deeper you’ll fall under its spell, just like Ash. While reading, I found that I especially liked the way that Ash and Rhys work together. Though Ash is unquestionably the heroine of our story, I appreciate her having someone she can always count on at her back (Maybe because I was a little frightened by everything that was happening? I’m not ruling it out!).

In addition to Ash’s visions, which help her begin to piece together the truth behind Quivira, the main conflict of the novel is her attraction to Dane, a boy who may be connected to the darkness in the community, but Ash feels herself drawn to him nonetheless. Personally, I was lukewarm on Dane and the pair’s torrid romance, but after finishing the book, I understand why his presence was important, and even why it all might have seemed rushed to me – so if too-fast romances bother you, too, bear through it! It does ultimately have a purpose.

If you want a book that’s compelling and just a little creepy, Blood and Salt is the one for you.

A copy of this book was provided by the the publisher for review.