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Greater than a twisted fairy story, The Salt Grows Heavy takes inspiration from quite a lot of mermaid lore and legends, laying the mythos out on a surgical desk and taking it aside little by little. This brief, sharp novella flays its characters open—typically actually—to be able to carry out a surgical, queer satire of joyful endings. Cassandra Khaw’s writing is masterful, and her horror is ugly and gleeful, rendered in prose so grisly, you need to choose it out from between your tooth.

Spoilers of the Week | June third

An unnamed Plague Physician escorts a mermaid by the nation as she makes an attempt to return to the ocean. The mermaid had lengthy been a concubine of the native prince; her youngsters are much more feral, and have both already escaped to the ocean or wreaked havoc on their father’s kingdom. Because the Plague Physician and the mermaid journey, they run right into a village of murderous, servant-children led by three saints who boast of immortality.

Picture: Used with permission from Tor Nightfire, an imprint of Tor Publishing Group, a commerce division of Macmillan Publishers. Artwork by Morgan Sorensen (@see_machine), Design by Esther S. Kim.

Echoes of a dozen fairy tales reverberate by the e-book. Small asides from the mermaid, our first-person narrator, present a mirror for the story. These moments are exhausting truths delivered in between ugly playfulness. All through all the e-book, there are illustrations of the form of widespread, merciless indifferences that usually mark out older fairy tales. There’s nonetheless empathy, we nonetheless ache for the Plague Physician and the mermaid, however the e-book doesn’t fake that ache is a thriller, making a tapestry out of trauma.

Inside The Salt Grows Heavy is an exploration of the physique—who owns your physique, who sees it, what can it create? There’s a form of anger at our bodies, a frustration with the truth that the physique can heal from hurt, that point generally doesn’t matter with regards to therapeutic, and the best way that merely having a physique provides folks a uniting language with which to speak. The mermaid embodies a form of diaspora narrative, keen to destroy every little thing round her if she will maintain onto one thing that feels steady, if she will have hope.

There’s a distinct, unrelenting horror within the writing of this e-book. One of many nice traces, delivered by the mermaid after actually consuming components of males which were reduce up and discarded, is “There’s nothing incorrect with being a monster.” Exquisitely dictating disgust, The Salt Grown Heavy composes an opera of gore and viscera, combining need and repulsion to create a physique of labor.

This e-book is filled with horrors that really feel like a fever dream, written out as a form of stream of terrorized consciousness. However the ending is hopeful, a form of mushy twist that appears like a wink at addenda to fairy tales, telling you that possibly it’s not all unhealthy, possibly there’s house, possibly after 500 years of excellent deeds even monsters get souls. It’s a sort ending. It’s one we need to think about all of us deserve.

Lastly, a be aware: I’ve a behavior of annotating my books—in addition to the truth that I typically want to jot down in regards to the books after I learn them, I take pleasure in writing down ideas, reactions, and moments that stunned me whereas studying. I’ve hardly ever marked up a e-book as incessantly or with so many exclamation marks as I’ve whereas studying The Salt Grows Heavy. Khaw’s line writing is masterful, experimental, and evocative, with that means inferred in between scalpels to the meat of the story.

The Salt Grows Heavy is horror, sure, but it surely’s extra like a fable—a narrative instructed round campfires about monster hunters and monster fuckers, with your mates yelling from the treeline, making an attempt to scare you. It’s a e-book that’s feckless with its cruelty, however cautious with its intimacy. With a language that appears distinctive to its pages, The Salt Grows Heavy is the form of e-book that sticks to the roof of your mouth, and prowls the darker corners of your thoughts lengthy after you end it, like a wolf, like a shark, like a monster.

The Salt Grows Heavy by Cassandra Khaw is out there now wherever books are bought.

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