Published by Nefarious Bat Press on 5 July 2020
Genres: Horror, Mythical Creatures, folk horror
Source: Purchased Book
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A remote island. A group of prisoners. And an evil as old as time.
Robin didn’t mean to break the law. Didn’t know at first what law she’d broken. And now she’s on her way to Salt Rock — a new-model prison for a new kind of criminal, way out in the remote Northern Isles of Scotland.
On Salt Rock, she'll meet other prisoners like her — men and women from all over the world, spirited away from the lives they knew for crimes they didn’t know they were committing.
She'll uncover the complex web of conspiracy that connects them all, confronting some of the darkness of her own past in the process.
And she'll come face to face, finally, with an evil as old as the land itself.
It’s hell in those waters.
Saltblood is Parker’s intricate love story between folklore and horror motifs. Disquieting and wholly engrossing.
Saltblood by T.C. Parker is another astounding blow to the imagination. Everything comes to life in a wonderous but brutal production of a dystopian and mythological dreamscape. After reading Maiden last year I knew I had to dive into Parker’s affinity for sea horror – she captures the malevolence and the fear of the unknown with a practiced flourish. I’m excited to see what she comes up with next in the genre. She has herself a long-time fan!
The synopsis immediately reeled me in. A dystopian future where outrage is monitored and given a numerical value and that can land you in a prison in the far remoteness of the Scottish Islands. Having lived in the highlands myself for many years I envisioned a little island of the likes of Dunnet Head, the water seems to go on forever, the weather casting an ominous shadow at what could potentially be lying in wait. It led me to ponder how things could be misconstrued with the potential to land you in hot water (or freezing cold water, I’ll let you decide.)
On a boat crossing the sea to a Scottish island – that’s where it all begins for two strangers, Robin and Jack. The descriptions of the weather, the current dragging them along, and the thought of them held in captivity unknown to them before is palpable. No matter what came next, I just knew that Parker’s vivid narrative style would ensure I’d be hooked for the duration of the story. The facility located on Salt Island is located under a mesh enclosure, only one gate allows exit and entry and that’s only once a day. Mobile phone signals are blocked, so if something happens, they’re all doomed. The arrival feels like an echo of things to come.
We meet characters all with interesting backstories, Robin is very keen to keep hers to herself for as long as possible. But others are happy to divulge. So many of their stories are recognisable in the things you read on Twitter and news sites, does that mean they should be locked away…to reflect? Parker doles out the information on a drip feed, it’s slow and teasing and leaves you trying to read between the lines. What’s so special about this island? And what’s with the born and bred islanders and why are they warned about mingling with them?
Saltblood really feels like falling down a cavernous hole. Its darkness threatens to swallow you whole, and descending into hell with no escape plan feels wholly too accurate. Do you have any allies to help you escape the void? My curiosity about the islanders very quickly turned into fear for Robin and her fellow inmates. The problem is that there is something far deadlier out in the water than the islanders and I felt sick for them all.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I’m a writer and researcher based in the fox-ravaged wilds of Leicestershire.
I’ve been a copywriter, a lecturer and, very briefly, an academic; now I run a semiotics and cultural insight agency by day and dream up horror and crime fiction at night, when the kids are asleep.
Laurie | Bark
I adored this book.
It was so good! I need more books like this!
Seems interesting I’d love to read it.
It really is!