Eleanor may be strange, but compared to the rest of her family, she’s the most boring girl on the planet.
What Big Teeth was written by non-binary author Rose Szabo form Richmond Virginia; they live with a wonderful assortment of people and animals, and teach writing at VCU. They have an MA in English from the University of Maine, and an MFA in creative writing from VCU.
Eleanor Zarrin has been away from home for many years, sent away by her Grandmother at a young age. She cannot remember much about her wild family, but what she does remember is that the Zarrins are more than just people...
She can barely recall her Grandfather’s long snout, her sister’s white fur, the reading of fortunes from the guts of birds, or the distant howling coming from the woods.
When young Eleanor returns home to the giant house on the rainy coast of Maine, a sudden death occurs soon after and has everyone panicked, confused and grieving; Eleanor has been asked to keep her unusual family in check, but she needs help to do so...
Soon, however, things begin to get dark and twisted, as a presence within the home threatens everyone inside it; can Eleanor embrace her odd and mysterious family in order to save them?
So, what did I think?
I had my eye on this novel for a while, and when it was sent to me I was excited to pick it up and begin reading; thankfully, I was not disappointed as this beautifully dark gothic story presented itself in such a unique way, that I was intrigued from page one.
Szabo has crafted a very unique story, pulling pieces from gothic, horror and folklore themes to bring together this story of family, fear, love and jealousy.
The prologue did wonders to set the story up; Eleanor barely remembers her family from before she was sent away, and the first few pages put me in her dreams, thoughts of things she did before she was sent to boarding school.
As soon as Eleanor returned home to her family, and even before that, there was a constant deep, eerie and uneasy atmosphere poking around the book; I loved how this feeling was present on every page, not once faltering.
I was constantly thinking something might go wrong, or that a character was not who they seemed. Every person had such a macabre vibe to them; Luma, Eleanor’s sister, was a brilliant part of this story, as I could never really tell what she was up to: was she on Eleanor’s side, or would she pounce at the first chance she got?
That eerie and gloomy feeling of mistrust was ever-present, which created such a tense and worrying atmosphere; Eleanor is afraid of her family, but she must hide it or risk getting mauled by her cousin’s talon-like hands. I always felt uneasy in the best of ways, and the fact that this atmosphere never faded was why I loved this book so much.
Having said this, the only fault I can find would be the use of punctuation and the language that was used. It sometimes felt that there were commas where they didn’t belong, and too many or too few words in a sentence, making it odd to read at times; this is, however, my only critisism.
The descriptive language used by Szabo, however, is outstanding; I could picture every face, every crack and imperfection in the hollow house, and every character’s transformation…
This novel really stands out as its narrative is held within one small town, yet manages to reach to different realms and areas unknown, making it so unique.
All in all, What Big Teeth was a phenomenal story of willpower, family, love and determination. This is the gothic horror; every page held important information and every single character, even paintings and teacups had their purpose: a delightfully dark read.
Written by Melissa, who you can follow on Twitter @melissajournal
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