Cover Image: What Big Teeth

What Big Teeth

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Member Reviews

This is a dark and twisty Gothic-type novel. I enjoyed it, but wish there was a sequel or even a prequel that explained the grandmother a bit more. It was almost like 2 stories or plotlines in one that didn't quite mesh. Overall, I enjoyed it.
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This is a gothic fantastical novel about a family of monsters/magic. The atmosphere was really compelling and well done and many parts were very disturbing. However, I found myself bored. I didn’t connect with the characters and I found myself not compelled by the plot. I think if you like dark and grotesque stories you’ll like this but for me it was just okay.
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What Big Teeth is a welcome entry into the YA horror genre. There's something for everyone who loves horror, mystery, a big spooky house, and characters who have big secrets to hide.

Eleanor, a teen who has been ostracized from her family since she was very young, comes home after she does something bad at her boarding school. Only once she arrives home does she realize how she doesn't quite fit in. Every family member is special in their own way, from turning into werewolves, like her grandfather, sister, and cousin, to her mother, who seems to be some kind of half sea creature who rarely leaves her bathtub. Eleanor can't quite figure out how she fits in-and who (or what) she is. Her grandmother, the family matriarch, won't tell her why she sent her away all of those years ago, and once her grandmother dies, Eleanor is left in charge of this family she barely knows. As Eleanor begins to discover her role in her family, and her own special powers, she must decide what she is going to do to save--or destroy--her family. It did remind me a lot of the Addam's family, but much darker and these characters lacked their quirky lighthearted charm. The characters in the Zarrin family felt heavy, and the reader helps carry the weight of their baggage. Every character had some trauma, and brought their experiences into the larger family unit.

As I was reading, I had a lot of questions. I had to know more about the Zarrins and about Eleanor. Rose Szabo did a great job with the reveals throughout the book, and kept me engaged with their beautiful writing the entire time. I loved reading it. It felt like a horror/mystery book and it was wonderful. I had never really realized the power of comedic relief before I read this book, and because this book didn't have any, I think any kind of comedic situations would have helped. I live for dark books, but this one was almost too dark, just because there weren't any lighter moments in it. I loved the writing, I loved the characters because all of them were flawed, and I thought the setting was amazing. I think I just needed something a little lighter in it too.

Content: There isn't any language (that I can recall, and I was looking for it) or romantic situations. Some characters are in a relationship but we never see it on page. There is some graphic violence in it, and the whole thing does feel really dark.
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I decided around 29% that this book just wasn’t for me and I did not finish. It was a hard read to get into. The prologue piqued my interest but then the entire book changed and I was confused as hell for the bit of what I read. Nothing caught my attention.
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Trigger warnings: blood, gore, animal death, homophobia, family abuse, family abandonment

The cover absolutely caught my eye and the summary really intrigued me. I was looking forward to picking this up!

What I Liked
-Szabo does a great job with the atmosphere. I was always so anxious and nervous about what was going to happen next and what the characters would do or say. 
-The villain really spooked me! The way they were connected to Eleanor and what they were able to do is the stuff of nightmares, and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

What I Didn't Like
-I was so creeped out by Eleanor's (teenager) crush on Arthur (adult "man"). It's explained but it's still very creepy and not romantic (since it's, you know, straight up pedophilia). It's explained by the end but still is treated like a tragic romance in the book which made me uncomfortable.
-Speaking of uncomfortable, there were some things with the family that were also super odd. I was initially interested in the dynamics but that just morphed into continuous eyebrow raising. The secrets were not interesting and not tied together or hinted at well.
-The dialogue was often unnatural and awkward.
-The greatest disappointed was the queer representation. All of the queer characters are either damaged or dead by the end of this book. Frankly, the summary straight up lied about Eleanor being queer—it’s so brief and never brought up except for one moment. I was very displeased and it definitely affected the rest of my enjoyment of the book.

Conclusion
Meh, there were elements to this book that I would have really liked but it wasn't executed as well as I'd hoped.
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What was this?

I was so excited to read this since it seemed like the Addams Family or the Munsters. However, I have no idea what I just read.

I think one of my biggest issues is that there doesn't seem to be any real explanation for what's going on. I was hoping for more answers as we got further into the book, but everyone was acting weird and not very nice to each other "because they're monsters." I need more than that.

Speaking of everyone not being nice... These people have basically no redeeming qualities. I liked them well enough at the beginning, but then they started acting worse, or we got to know a bit of backstory and I was fully taken aback. (Let's not even mention the age gap between multiple characters who are attracted to each other.)

I really wanted to like this one, which is why I didn't DNF. However, I really should have.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for providing the E-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Eleanor runs from her boarding school back into the arms of her (literally) monstrous family. It’s a dark tale with shades of the The Addams Family, albeit much colder, with an abundance of family tension and mystery. What Big Teeth has atmosphere and mood in spades, though the story wasn’t cohesive enough to keep up the momentum. There were too many unanswered questions and odd digressions. While the plot didn’t quite live up to my expectations, I don’t think this will spoil the experience for everyone. I would recommend this to those looking for a gothic setting and don’t mind vagueness and mystery.
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Good writing, weird story. 
Eleanor has been away at boarding school for years until she attacks a student that’s been bullying her. She returns home, unsure if she’s wanted or welcome. Her family lives apart from the village and they’re shunned because they’re all part-creatures that kill people. Grandma Persephone soon passes away but tells Eleanor to take care of the family before she stops breathing. Eleanor soon becomes completely overwhelmed so she contacts her mother’s mother by writing a letter to her. Grandmere writes back promising help and quickly arrives. At first, everything seems to be going well and manners and respect show up for the first time in the house. Soon it becomes apparent that Grandmere is more than just a nice, elderly lady with good manners and etiquette. Grandpa Miklos is afraid of her and tries to kill her because he knows she’s a creature that almost killed him when he was young. Eleanor sees what’s happening and does her best to make things better for her family. Perfect for fans of Wilder Girls and Rules for Vanishing, 4 stars!
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I can't even finish this title.  I LOVED the cover art, but there was nothing in the first 20 percent of the book that I connected to.  Unfortunately the mysteries that were being set up were not enough for me to continue with the book.
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Aside from some assumptions based on the cover, I wasn't sure what to expect coming into this - so I was definitely surprised (because I had formed the wrong assumption about the main character  based on the cover).

This book has:
- an inventive magical system
- weird family dynamics
- a totally weird but unique fairy tale vibe
- dark atmosphere, creepy house - the author does an incredible job of setting mood

I'm struggling, honestly, to review the book because it was kind of a mass of contradictions. It's a slow burn of a story and in the beginning, I wasn't really sure what was going on or who these characters were, but Szabo dangles just enough to keep me turning pages. It sort of slowed down just about the point where things were finally being explained (around the 2/3 mark) but then it zooms to the ending. 

There's a LOT of ambiguity in this book, be it the magic, some of the characters (I'm not sure what Mom is, but she's sitting in a tub of water all the time), and some things come up but are never fully explained.

I also didn't necessarily like most of the characters but I wanted to see where Eleanor would go in the story, and that kept me reading too.

Really, I think Szabo exercised some sort of fairy tale magic on me, because this has a lot of elements that should infuriate or frustrate but instead all add to the "otherness" of the story. This is perfect for fans of Rory Power and  Gothic fiction
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I don’t know what I was expecting, but this was unexpected!  I found it to be very dark, creepy, chilling, and fun to read!  The story line was unique, which I love!  I thought it was better than it would’ve been if it had been what I expected, so that may be why I enjoyed so much!  I highly recommend!
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This was an enjoyable read that kept me interested. The characters of Arthur, Grandmere and especially Eleanor were well written and made me want to know more about them. Creepy vibes throughout!  The middle dragged a bit but it finished strong with lots of twists and turns. I'm not sure I would call this "YA" though.
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Not remembering much of her life before she was sent away 8 years ago Eleanor struggles to fit in and feel at home with her wild and dangerous family. The family dynamics were compelling with Eleanors family being just as wary of her as she was of them. She does come to care for them a great deal and wishes to take care of them but she doesn't always make the best decisions.  I liked the weird romantic tension between Eleanor and a family friend. I didnt really root for them to be together but their interactions were oddly engaging. I also enjoyed Eleanors complicated relationship with her grandmother. It was clear they cared for one another but the lengths the grandmother was willing to go to have Eleanor at her side was a disaster waiting to happen.

After being an outcast among her family it was nice seeing Eleanor gain confidence and take charge. I didn't find it very believable that Eleanor couldnt remember much of her family but it did make for a mysterious atmosphere. We get to follow Eleanor as she discovers her family secrets and why she was sent away. The decision she had to make between the people she cared for created some wonderful suspense. The new person taking over their home added a gripping sense of danger especially with how unpredictable they were. I loved how their sweet and caring exterior hid a darker and more sinister character willing to manipulate anyone to get what they wanted.

It didn't get as dark as I might have expected but it did have its creepy moments. I enjoyed the paranormal elements like her family's shapeshifting abilities and her grandmothers magic. There was an exciting tarot card reading and some mention of potion making. We get some backstory on how Eleanors grandfather became a shapeshifter and why half of her mothers skin was covered in polyps. Some details were left vague enough for the imagination to create its own gruesome imagery. I did have a difficult time figuring out what time period this was set in but it wasn't a big deal since it added to the whole strange vibe which was one of my favorite parts of the story.
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Holy cow. What a story. I thought I knew what to expect but I was wrong. So wrong. The story of Eleanor and the Zarrins is wild. Yes they have werewolves in the family. Yes there’s a creepy Victorian style house. Of course there’s death! But wow. Just wow. I was kept on the edge of my seat the whole time. Twists and turns galore. I don’t want to give a summary because I just think everyone should go into this mostly blind. You won’t be disappointed. The character development and storytelling is perfection for this gothic novel:
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5 stars. This is a weird book that I think many people will not like, but this level of weird fairy tale and monsters was just what I love. It was perfect, but is this really YA? Review to come.

Due to working as a high school teacher, I am often behind on reviews, but here are my initial thoughts.
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Oh it's so sad when the cover is a million times better than the book.

Listen, it started off fairly interesting with potential and I was completely here for the monster family, however mid way through it was ruined for me. There wasn’t much of a plot?? Most of the book was family drama until Grandmere sauntered into the scene. My negative feelings only grew when Grandmere was introduced to the story. The way Eleanor acted/felt about her Grandmere was to the T how victims behave in abusive situations: feeling scared and on edge when doing perfectly reasonable things because it might pose the risk of making someone (usually their abuser) angry, making excuses for harmful behavior when they can't escape it/their abuser, to name a few. I absolutely hated Grandmere. I hated how disrespectfully she treated the rest of Eleanor's family and I hate how controlling and manipulative she was.

This book had potential and did well with setting up a dark atmosphere with the descriptions of the house and family in the beginning but otherwise failed in execution.
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I was disappointed by this book. It had a strong beginning but the middle dragged for me. I couldn't connect with the characters and was expecting something else out of the book. It was a bit disappointing. I hope to read another book by this author in the future and think that first time readers or people getting back into reading would really enjoy this. It just was not for me.
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This just didn't work for me, in the end. I tried to read it a few times, but I could never fully get into it. The writing felt kind of detached and I couldn't get myself to care about the story or the characters at all. The cover is gorgeous and I'm sure it has its readers out there, but I'm just not it.
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I got an ARC of this book.

DNF at 34%

I didn't care about any of the characters. None of the mystery seemed to matter. There was no character development or really any plot to speak of. It was often hard to follow where the story wanted me to go. 

Who and/or what is the mother? She is always described as being in a barrel. It is just one of those details that didn't add up for me. 

I wanted to love this story. The cover is magical, but it also didn't seem to actually line up with what the book was doing. It is nothing like the books the blurb compares it to. The other books have plot and by 30% actually had my attention. This one really didn't. It was a mess from the start and I don't know why.
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I loved the last third of this book. I did not love the first two thirds of the book. I think there was a big pacing problem at the beginning. I felt like I had all of the info I needed to get what was happening, but since it just kept going I started to doubt what I knew. Once this shifted and more information was revealed it was a much more engrossing read. 

Things that worked well for me: Atmosphere - SO CREEPY, Shirley Jackson vibes - especially in the last few chapters. Big We Have Always Lives in the Castle vibes, creative narration styles at the end.  

Things that didn't work for me: Pacing, I didn't love any of the characters - Rhys and Miklos were probably my favorites - but I did not like Eleanor. The vague time period (post WWII?)? 

One other big thing to note is that this is not a werewolf book. The title gives off Little Red Riding Hood vibes, and werewolves/wolves are a part of the story, but there is a whole magic system and creatures outside of that as well.
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