When I picked up this book, I thought I was getting a spooky island-based horror mystery – and I did, just so we’re clear! But what I didn’t expect to get was corporate conspiracy, social/political commentary relevant to the real world right now, and a cast of morally gray women that I’d absolutely fall in love with. Saltblood pays off in the best ways: it gave me so much more than I bargained for!
I picked up this thick book one night on a whim, deciding to read the first chapter to get a feel for the author’s writing. For those who don’t know, T.C. Parker is the pen name of Natalie Edwards, who also writes crime fiction under her real name. This was my first time reading anything by her, under either name, and I wanted to know what I was getting myself into! I had no real expectations, other than – if I’m being honest here – a little bit intimidated by how chunky the book is. Seriously, it’s a hefty pal!! I love reading, but often find that I don’t have a lot of time to devote to it, so I’ve focused more on shorter fiction. Can I just say how grateful I am that I didn’t give into the intimidation?? Because that “quick chapter” I wanted to read turned into half a book, and at around 2 AM my boyfriend finally told me we needed to go to sleep and that I had to put the book down ’cause our alarm was set for 5:30! 😂
Saltblood is a bit difficult to pin down genre-wise because it blends so many together so perfectly. We have a lot of mystery, and a lot of different things terrifying enough to solidly qualify as horror – both human, and not. The island that the main characters find themselves on is very old, and I loved the history and folkloric aspect to the story – learning about the island’s normal inhabitants as well as their traditions and collective fears / beliefs was great. All the characters feel so fleshed out here, which is saying something since there are quite a few of them. I never had trouble keeping people straight, and found all the motivations and actions to be believable and consistent. There were a few memory flashes to the past that I particularly enjoyed, since it gave the characters more depth off the island, and we weren’t only left reading about things happening in real-time.
The idea of prisoners sent to an island for things that they may not have even known they were doing is horrifying, and the social commentary aspect that I mentioned earlier was really unique and well done. I was completely invested in finding out how the people got there, what they did to cause it, and just the entire corporate intrigue part in general – I don’t personally read a lot of crime fiction (hoping to change that this year!), so I don’t know if this is something that pops up a lot, but it’s such a unique thing to have in a horror story with creatures and bloodshed – I loved it!
Overall, this was so good, and I can’t recommend it enough. I finished it in 2 sittings (curse the need to sleep, or I’d have finished it in one!), and am going to eagerly gobble up the other 3 books I have waiting for me by T.C. / Natalie – she’s definitely someone I’m very excited to read more from!!
Thank you to the author for sending a copy of this over for review consideration!
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