"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."
Those are the last words of Ash Larkin's mother, before she abandons her daughter and returns to the spiritual commune from which she once longed to escape. They're also the words that made "Blood and Salt," the debut novel of author Kim Liggett, an instant addition to our list of must-reads for the year 2015.
Pitched as "Romeo and Juliet meets Children of the Corn" (um, seriously? how could you not want to read this?), "Blood and Salt" is a romantic horror story that digs bone-deep into the dark, desperate history of one Kansas town. And with MTV News having the honor today of exclusively revealing its gorgeous, creepy cover, we caught up with its author to find out what's in store when the book hits shelves in September.
"I find in all great horror there's an element of seduction, and in all great romance there's a whiff of death," Liggett told us via email -- and so it's no surprise that the love affair in "Blood and Salt" has sharp teeth and dark secrets. As for the book's balance between romance and horror, the author says, "I'd say it's 50/50-- in this story, one can't exist without the other."
And as for the cover, expect it to supply more questions than answers, because that's the whole idea.
Of the white-frocked girl who adorns the book, Liggett said, "I love that it's impossible to tell what era she's from, whether she's alive or dead, hanging from a tether or standing on her own two feet. And that's how I want the reader to feel when reading Blood and Salt-- off balance. You'll know something's wrong, something's off, but you'll be guessing until the very end.
"Expect to be seduced. Surprised. Uncomfortable. Horrified. And ultimately, swept off your feet."
Fair enough: With a cover like this, we're already completely creeped out -- and seriously swooning.
From the jacket:
“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.
Ready to add "Blood and Salt" to your library? The book hits shelves September 22, 2015.