Epeolatry Book Review: Question Not My Salt by Amanda M. Blake
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Title: Question Not My Salt
Author: Amanda M. Blake
Genre: Horror, Serial Killer Horror
Publisher: Torrid Waters, Crystal Lake Entertainment Publishing
Release Date: 16th February, 2024
Synopsis: Come for Thanksgiving Dinner. Stay for the Feast.
Sierra’s first American Thanksgiving promises to be unforgettable when her college roommate, Zoe, invites her to the Samuels family feast. But as the ten-hour banquet unfolds, it becomes clear this is no ordinary holiday gathering.
With everyone bound by a chilling rule—eat and drink exactly as served, and enjoy it, or face dire consequences—the traditional celebration quickly takes a dark and macabre turn. Will Sierra survive the Samuels’ sinister hospitality or become part of a feast far more horrifying than she could have ever imagined?
Question Not My Salt is a gripping tale blending the terror of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre with the culinary horror of Hannibal and The Menu.
I hesitated to read this upcoming book because I watched a film from two years ago with a similar plot. I’m talking about the psychological horror The Menu (2022) which I enjoyed watching in the cinema, amused and in awe by Ralph Fiennes’s performance so much that I recommended it to family and friends. If you haven’t seen this film, you should rectify this before even going near Question Not My Salt by Amanda M. Blake, and if you didn’t enjoy The Menu (2022), then this book might be a wonderful horrific alternative.
Question Not My Salt is from the perspective of Sierra. Her college roommate invites Sierra to her family’s Thanksgiving dinner. It’s Sierra’s first American Thanksgiving, so everything seems new and amazing to her, especially the Samuels family feast which lasts ten hours. Sierra is welcomed warmly, but once the banquet begins, it becomes apparent that this is no ordinary feast. The Samuels have rules. You must eat everything on your plate. There will be no changes to the food. No complaints, no technology, and no one can leave until it’s over.
Blake included a page full of trigger warnings, and I strongly advise you to read them. I did and I still felt unprepared. The blurb for Question Not My Salt mentions that it blends ‘the terror of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre with the culinary horror of Hannibal and The Menu’. But that is just the tip of the iceberg, I assure you. Read the trigger warnings. Don’t say you weren’t warned.
With so many family members and guests at this feast, it’s only a matter of time before someone breaks one of the Samuels’ rules, and it’s Sierra. Her roommate and best friend, Zoe, hadn’t explained the rules to her, and Sierra is placed in an awful position where she is ridiculed and practically bullied. This was a huge red flag to me. My hackles raised. Zoe was to look after her, so why didn’t she explain the rules?
From then on, events escalate. The feast becomes disturbing as people break the rules and are therefore punished. I won’t divulge the punishments—you can discover for yourself. The main character who enforces the rules is Mother. She is their leader, their chef, and the Samuels follow her every command. She is also the one who fulfils the punishments. Annoyingly, her logic is hard to argue against, which I guess is Blake’s intention, so it’s easy to see how one could be brainwashed into this scenario. Mother is a crystal clear villain who is easy to despise rather than Zoe who is more complex. I disliked Mother, but by the end, I hated Zoe even more for betraying her best friend and crossing intolerable lines.
As for Sierra, her personality is endearing with her quirks and her willingness to be kind and be accepted by the Samuels. When the feast begins, Sierra obeys, but as rules are broken one by one and more people get hurt, she begins to plan how far she will go to escape. She shows strength, cleverness, and fierceness while being true to herself.
Question Not My Salt haunted my stomach for ages. I was nauseated with no desire to discuss food. Don’t read Question Not My Salt before, during, or after a meal or you’ll regret it. Blake went beyond a thrilling comical horror narrative that The Menu (2022) achieved. Blake dove into extreme horror with one ghastly idea, and she swims into more gruesome, twisted, and perverse disturbances with this feast. So, if you weren’t happy with The Menu (2022), and in particular its ending, then chew on Question Not My Salt with a hungry appetite.
Available from Amazon.
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Corinne Pollard is a new disabled horror writer from West Yorkshire, UK with published works in Sirens Call eZine and Trembling with Fear. With a degree in English Lit and Creative Writing, Corinne has always enjoyed the world of dark fantasy. Aside from writing, Corinne enjoys metal music, visits to graveyards and shopping for books to read.