Cover Image: What Big Teeth

What Big Teeth

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Member Reviews

I really wanted to love What Big Teeth, but sadly it wasn’t for me. At the start I was really into it and was enjoying my time reading it, but then it started to get a little confusing and a little too weird for me. Some things were just not making sense to me. I feel like some things were not explained enough. I’m not really sure what I think about any of the characters. It ended up being hard to connect with them. I did really like the family aspect to the story though. I was really bummed out that I struggled a bit with wanting to finish the book, because at the beginning it was really interesting and I liked it. In the end it was only just an okay read for me. I would still recommend it though. I think others will really enjoy it, but it just wasn’t for me.
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I went into this hoping for a werewolf book and I'm pretty disappointed that that isn't what I got, so I lowered it a star. But surprisingly, the book I got instead was still pretty good and gripping! I read the entire thing in one day and I had a really hard time putting it down since I flew through it so quickly. I did feel a little detached from all the characters, but I still enjoyed following them. I'm definitely looking foward to whatever this author writes in the future!
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Thank you to netgalley and the publisher for a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

I loved aspects of this book, but parts of it were just too weird for me. I loved the inclusion of magic and the way it was interwoven. This book even had many a mention of tarot - which I thought was amazing! Also, who doesn't love  a werewolf book? 

I would recommend if you like werewolves, magic, and weird horror.
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I could not ignore this book's cover! I love how wonderfully it fits the story, I look at it now, after reading, and I just think it was matched so well. 

This was a creepy, dark, atmospheric read, and it was so different than what I was expecting! The magical elements were darker and more sinister making this a great gothic story. I loved the characters and their backstories. As the plot wove its way through the pages, I was blown away by what was really going on. It's one that you'll absolutely want to pick up if you enjoy horror-fantasy stories!

I was provided a gifted copy of this book for free. I am leaving my review voluntarily.
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Boy, that's a tagline for high expectations, isn't it? This just sounded too unusual to pass by. 

From the start, Eleanor seems to be the most normal of the bunch. After being sent away to boarding school for years and running away from said school, she's looking for love and acceptance. Now that she's home, she's trying to scrape out a place to belong, but like as it was at school, she's on the outskirts again. It's no surprise after not attaining a huge warm welcome from her immediate family and the unexpected death of her grandmother, she reaches out to the only other family she has. Eleanor is ignorant of the world and somewhat bossy in the name of responsibility. While I didn't actively dislike her, I found myself extremely apathetic towards her. Again, this is YA so she fits the naive typecasting that I expected going in. 

Her family, on the other hand, would fit well in with the Adams' family. Her mother is covered in barnacles and spends her time sitting in a washtub full of water. Her grandfather is a shifter who has trouble keeping it reeled in as are her sister and cousin. Her grandmother is a witch. Everyone is very odd, yet seems normal to each other. The characters are definitely one of the best parts of the story. The family dynamics are strange and unusual yet interesting. The gothic atmosphere is incredibly well done here. The run-down house in the woods with the kooky uninviting family; Everything is dark and dreary. 

What Big Teeth is a veritable overload of bizarre, weird, and eccentric people and happenings. Things just happen without explanation and are never touched on again. It's all very vague but initially, the mystery of it all kept me turning the pages, but the novelty of it soon wore off. Just when you think you are finally going to get some answers, there's a very weird romantic arc with Arthur, who we know nothing about other than multiple family members seem to be in love with him. It's a new level of creepy, but an uncomfortable one this time. In the end, it did come together, but I had to push through to get there.
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4.5/5 Stars

Please believe me when I say that this book is one you need to add to your tbr!!! I was so lucky to get an arc of this book, which has been out now for about a week and it will appeal to anyone who loves dark fantasy, gothic horror, and/or mysteries. Everything about this book was at once nothing like I had imagined and so unique that I couldn’t stop reading. The characters were all so original and fully developed, especially the main character. The plot was also constantly surprising, going in so many supernatural and magical turns that I would’ve expected almost anything could happen by the end. Besides the pure genius of this careful concocted thrillride, I have to mention the romance. It was unlike any romance subplot that I had ever read and most of the time I couldn’t decide whether I supported it or not. By the end, the whole thing felt very bittersweet. I must say that this story truly shocked me and I can’t recommend it enough. I feel like it expanded my mind and I’m so excited to see what other novels this author writes!
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I wanted to enjoy this book so much more than I did. I barely understood what was going on for the majority of the book and when I finally did the book lost my interest. This had an interesting premise but there was something about the pacing and the way the story was told that kept me from really enjoying it.
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Something dark and strange is lurking in the pages of What Big Teeth, the debut young adult horror from Rose Szabo. Eleanor is finally returning home after spending most of her youth at boarding school. But her homecoming isn’t quite what she expected. She is, after all, a Zarrin, and Zarrins are known in their sleepy New England town for being rather strange. Adjusting to life at home doesn’t come easy when most of her family are werewolves and the longtime family friend seems to have a strange hold over her sister, her cousin, and her father. Eleanor is also hiding something deep inside her, keeping her own monstrous secrets from her family... and even from herself. 

Reading What Big Teeth is like having shadows slowly creep out from the edge of the pages. It tugs on the edges of memory like a half-remembered nightmare. It is slow, atmospheric, and, while the story does come to an engrossing and enthralling climactic end, much remains unexplained or left to the imagination. The best horror movie monsters are the ones you don’t really ever see on the screen. That same trick is used here, but with an added effect. The werewolves in this story are rarely labeled so succinctly as that. Instead, the transformation is described as turning inside out, of reaching in and finding the wolf. Eleanor calls it “my family’s trick, the inversion of selves, the different skin.” Szabo has an interesting essay in which they describe the lack of describing: <a href="https://tornightfire.com/becoming-the-wolf-rose-szabo-on-monsters-queerness-and-euphemism/">Becoming the Wolf: Rose Szabo on Monsters, Queerness, and Euphemism</a>. The mutability of the self, the longing for love, how physically consuming loneliness can be, and finding belonging, is what gives What Big Teeth its heart.

In the Acknowledgements, Szabo thanks their parents for introducing Edward Gorey and The Addams Family and I can’t help but see light touches of each: the unexplained (and no sense of need to explain) strangeness of Gorey, the Addams family of monsters that is still, at the end of the day, a family. Though, don’t get me wrong, What Big Teeth is much darker, unnerving, and unsettling...but in a great way.
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Thoughts and Themes: My first note on this book was WEREWOLVES! I love these creatures and interestingly so they are one of the few things that actually terrify me. My most favorite things are things that terrify me and on this list are 3 things. Werewolves have not only terrified me my whole life but I have always been fascinated with them and the different stories that have been told about them through the years. What I really enjoyed about this story was that it wasn’t just about werewolves but also included other creatures.

I really enjoyed the way that this book mixed together elements of fantasy as well as horror. This book gives a vibe that was similar to The Haunting of Hill House which I really enjoyed but this book has a lot more fantastical elements which drew me in more. I liked learning about the family and what types of creatures they were. I liked learning about these creatures and how they came to be, or why they came to be. I think that the most fascinating creature in this story is Eleanor and I want more of this book just to see what she becomes.

I liked the mysterious aspect of this whole story, there was mystery about what Eleanor really was, the story behind Arthur, and what does Persephone know that the rest of her family doesn’t. I liked reading as these mysteries unfolded and liked how they had Persephone be the one to really tell her story. I don’t want to spoil the story so it’s hard to talk about this book as the best parts are in the spoilers.

There is one thing that I just wasn’t happy with and was a bit disappointed that it wasn’t entirely addressed. I don’t know if this was because of the time period this was supposed to feel like or because it added to the story but from Eleanor and the Grandma there is slight homophobia. We get a sense of why Eleanor is reacting this way and what she has been taught at her boarding school but it seems to be dismissed. The feelings that Rhys has seem to be dismissed as feelings each of the members of the family have and it is slightly explained later on.

Characters: There are so many characters in this story that I thought it would get confusing at first to remember them all. While Rhys, Miklos, and Luma are all werewolves, they all have distinct characteristics that tell them apart. My favorite out of those three is Rhys because his character reads like a child who doesn’t know any better. I like his playful personality and enjoy watching him pine after Arthur.

I enjoyed getting to know Eleanor throughout this whole book and see her relationships with the others develop. I thought it was great to watch her relationships with the others shift as she learned more about them. I thought it was good to see those relationships change not just as she learned about them but also dependent on who she was getting that information from.

Now the villain of the story, I really enjoyed this character because of what she is and how she snuck her way into the family. I can’t say much about the villain because it ruins the story for you all but she is sneaky and fascinating. You wind up disliking her because of what she does to the others but as a character she was great to read about.

Writing Style: This story is told in first person through the perspective of our main character, Eleanor. There is so much about the writing that I enjoy, this is probably the best part about this book. I liked how this story gives you glimpses of the past and the way that this is done is interesting as well. I like that we shift towards the end of this story and we are reading this through a different perspective. I thought it was great to see things in multiple viewpoints to really understand everyone’s actions.
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I can't say that I actually enjoyed this story, but it was entertaining. Kind of. I could actually see this story playing out as a movie, and I think I would have liked it much better if that was the case. It gave me a bit of a [book:Beautiful Creatures|6304335] vibe, but this story wasn't quite as fleshed-out as BC was, sadly. I felt like we were just thrown in to Eleanor's family's world, without any context, and I never quite caught up, and then it just ended. I didn't like that we weren't ever really given an explanation of Eleanor's "abilities". It definitely felt as if something was missing. 
I appreciate the idea of this story, and I was excited to read it, especially because of that cover!, but sadly this one didn't work for me.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the review copy.
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https://brooklynrail.org/2021/02/books/Rose-Szabos-What-Big-Teeth
(Published in the Brooklyn Rail Feb 2021)

The Gothic genre has always created a home for nonbinary misfits—shapeshifters who transcend limitations of the scripted body, ageless vampires down to suck whatever fleshly element comes their way, and a whole panoply of creatures who defy boundaries imposed on their being. As a young reader wanting to expand and explore the perimeters of my own shape, I sought refuge in this world of terror and so I felt a familiar stride alongside Eleanor Zarrin, the seemingly normal (or at least human-ish) teen protagonist in Rose Szabo’s young adult debut, What Big Teeth, as she seeks refuge in a household of not always benign monsters.

After she’s involved in a violent incident, Eleanor flees Saint Brigid’s boarding school and heads straight back to her ancestral home off the coast of Maine, where she hopes to reunite with the monstrous family she only vaguely remembers, and now fears.

If the Addams Family moved into Hill House one could begin to imagine the gothic fantasy from which Eleanor was bred. But it has been eight years since she’s seen or spoken to any of them. She doesn’t quite remember her half-human, half-sea-thing mother who spends most of the time in a wash bin, gently tending to her freshly wetted polyps; or her transmogrifying werewolf relatives who are often on the verge of ripping each other’s throats out; or even the witchy paternal grandmother who sent her away in the first place. While it may seem paradoxical to seek protection within a group that could harm you—even Eleanor admits, “to want something so badly and also be so afraid” is “a dangerous combination”—sometimes the desire for love and acceptance outweighs fear. Besides, it is often better to deal with the devil you know rather than the devil you don’t, especially when that devil may reside within you.

Still reeling from her relative’s abandonment, wondering why they never replied to any letters or brought her home for the holidays, Eleanor seeks answers for why she was turned away while still desperately trying to assimilate. She is met with a strangely anticipated welcome home as her paternal grandmother “saw” her return in the cards, yet no one is quite sure why she is there (she’s even a bit foggy on the matter). Eventually she becomes reaccustomed—remembering moments growing up in the gothic manse; finding warmth in Arthur, a mysterious, vampiric, scarecrow-like figure everyone seems to use as their plaything; and reconnecting with Luma, her wolven sister and former best friend. But as soon as she finds her footing, a sudden death transpires forcing her to take a lead role in the family’s affairs.

Tasked with the overwhelming burden of keeping the family together: making sure they don’t kill each other or become a target of the town while also maintaining their once prosperous extracts business, Eleanor calls upon her maternal French grandmother (Grandmere) for help. But as soon as the well-organized, lavender-scented woman arrives, her presence causes an immediate rift within the house. When chaos erupts, Eleanor is forced to face her own inner darkness in order to protect the monsters she loves.

A search for the self is at the forefront of this twisted coming-of-age story, as everyone insists on telling Eleanor who or what she truly is inside. Her journey is not only in discovering who she is, but also the transformation she must make in order to battle the destructive outside forces encroaching upon her family.

Like memory, much of the tale is cloaked in shadow with long passages containing dreams or dream-like sequences and murky flashbacks from various points of view. But it’s not all dark. The story is often injected with a brilliant, wonderland-like atmosphere as we see Eleanor singing the drakondia plants back to life as they "bob and sway" behind her. Some of the more beautiful scenes are of Eleanor diving clothesless off a cliff into fierce waters, swimming toward her true self.

At times, extraneous information can weigh down the pace of the story, but overall What Big Teeth is a fun and enticing read with many intriguing questions driving the plot forward—though some of the answers seem confused or never quite resolved. It can be argued whether lengthy descriptions hinder or help young readers—as a young person, I found value in reading well-built worlds—but Szabo’s descriptions do lean toward lengthy. There is so much love contained within their details (who could forget an aunt who divines by sinking her hands inside the guts of a vulture) that it is easy to overlook minor bumps for a writer who really knows the charming and imaginative world they created, one who provides the kind of lasting visuals readers of all ages crave.
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It's hard for me to know what to say about this book. It was truly unlike anything I have ever read before, fantasy and horror blending together in something truly beautiful and unique. 

It starts in something that feels like horror, maybe a psychological thriller, as Elenor returns to her family. She angry and full of guilt, and hoping to find comfort in the arms of her family. Her family, however, is more complicated than she remembers, more than she even could fathom. 

Then it becomes something like a twisted fairytale, with magic and mystery floating her and the story.

I don't write reviews with spoilers, because I try to write honestly without writing anything that will take away from the reader's experience. So writing a review about this is difficult because the surface level of this book is so slim because the underneath is full of so much black and oil depth. 

Read this if you like dark and magical stories. Read this if you like horror and unseen plot twists. Read this if you like seeing female protagonists come into their own. Just, read this.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an advance copy of this book!
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I had high hopes for this novel based on the description and I'm not sure if it's because of the type of reader I am or if it's genuinely is an issue but I had so many questions while reading that remained unanswered after the novel was over. The first half moved a bit too slow for me and I had to push through. It did do several good things and those good things were executed really well but I feel like they were outweighed by the questions and disconnect.
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Thank you Fierce Reads and Netgalley for the advanced e-galley of What Big Teeth by Rose Szabo. 

What Big Teeth is a dark fantasy YA book about Eleanor Zarrin, her magical monsterous family and a mysterious man named Arthur. It was chilling, imaginative and well written. I have to say honestly though that most of this book I spent in a WTF state. What am I reading? Am I missing something? The author kind of drops you right into it and I had so many questions. I think those questions really distracted me from the story and the details for most of the book. The last 30% I’d say really captivated me. It’s very well written and provided me with vivid imagery of The Zarrins and their creepy house. 

I’d give this 3.5 stars and recommend it to any one looking for a dark gothic fantasy. Nothing is as it seems and there will be some bizarre happenings on every page. I think I will reread in the near future. Now that I know what happens I will be able to better enjoy the writing, the details and the monsters.
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This was a debut hit that I could not put down! I loved the mystery and by the middle of the book I couldn't read fast enough to figure out what in the world was really going on.  This book draws you in and doesn't let you go until you have read the last page.  There are so many twists and turns in this one that it was an epic ride that I need more to!! This one does finish up and there isn't any kind of cliffhanger. However, it could have more story because its pretty open.  

I would love to see a prequel to this one as well as a follow up.  I loved Eleanor and her family and man I just didn't see anything of this book coming.  I loved how the author blended werewolves, witches, and magic all together to form this beautiful terrifying story. 

One other thing that I think was fabulous is that this book which is ya has no real or true romance in it!! 


Go Into This One Knowing: Light Horror, No Real Romance, CREEPY and WERID!!!
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CW: Homophobia, miscarriage, body horror

What Big Teeth was an atmospheric read that captured me until the very end! This Gothic Horror follows Eleanor Zarrin who after years of being in boarding school returns to her family home.

I don’t want to say too much about the synopsis, but just know you’re in for a thrilling ride. The book has the lush descriptions of the setting and gives you a constant feeling of uneasiness. The themes explored in this one are possession, loyalty, family history, and control.

The family dynamic is really interesting, it reminded me of the Addams Family but with an Edward Gorey twist, there’s something off putting but you don’t know what. It’s funny that those were my first comps when meeting the family and how the author mentioned them later in the acknowledgments.

This is one in which characters can’t be trusted, they all had their motivations for doing certain things. Since we follow Eleanor we learn along with her. The secrets of the house engulf her along with us the readers. Ultimately, we must trust that answers are within us and I thought that was a great theme to follow. Who can grant you answers and do you want them to?

What Big Teeth is a great debut! I recommend this to fans of horror and anyone looking to read more of the genre.
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Eleanor is afraid to come home . . . but after what she did at school, it's the only place she knows she can hide. Still, she's forgotten how much her mother's half-aquatic face repels her, her grandfather's wolfish tendencies scare her, and her grandmother's lack of warmth makes Eleanor feel out of place. Did any of her family members even miss Eleanor when she was banished to boarding school for all those years? But when Eleanor's grandmother dies under mysterious circumstances, leaving her with the charge to protect home and family, Eleanor must learn who to trust—and quickly—before there's no more home or family left to protect.

You know that feeling when you're under the water and your hearing is muffled and you can't quite make out what people are saying? That's how I felt for a good half of this book. Szabo's writing is atmospheric and sometimes quite beautiful. However, I just couldn't grasp what Eleanor was going on about and it started to get tiring. I did like Eleanor's character though. She was likable and interesting. But, unfortunately for Eleanor, the plot of her story took an abnormally long time to find its focus and clarify itself.

My other spat with the book is that it shifts tone pretty dramatically when the ball finally realizes it's time to roll. The first half of the book is gothic, bizarre, and charming all in one. And then the plot takes a swerve into some pretty dark places in the last fourth of the novel, leaving me with a little bit of whiplash.

In the end, the novel was just okay. The pacing was off, the plot was wonky, and the tone wasn't consistent. Rose Szabo's prose does shine though and their original characters are quite unique, so I'm confident that better Szabo novels are on the horizon.
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I had such high hopes for this book but walked away disappointed.... in fact I was so disappointed that I DNFd. I was confused from the very beginning as nothing was explained. I was thrust into a world were the MC was apparently bitten by a wolf, but I had to piece that together through context clues, and she had... "abilities". Not much else was flushed out after that. The story was full of choppy writing, vague hints at what was going on, weak story line, shallow characters, and not much else. I read almost one quarter of the story before I gave up. I kept hoping it would get better but it never did. The premise was spot on but the delivery and the characters needed so much work.
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Let me begin this review by saying that I am not quite sure how to review this book. It’s one of those books that’s so hard to explain and has a very particular and niche appeal, so let me put it this way – if you are a fan of atmospheric horror and gothic fiction, if you love dysfunctional families (think Haunting of Hill House, but actually the Hill family) and Addams Family, if you love eerie tales where strange things happen and no one bats an eye, you will love What Big Teeth.

What Big Teeth is centered around Eleanor who comes back to her eccentric and strange family from boarding school. She has always been estranged, thanks to her grandmother who sent her out and pretty much isolated her from the rest of the family members, but when she does something horrible at school, she attempts to find solace in the only family she’s known. Things get weirder – and wilder – when her grandmother dies, and Eleanor is left to pick up the pieces and make sense of the chaos that surrounds the family, deal with the distrust and hatred some of her family members show towards her, and come to terms with the fact that she might be the most dangerous monster of them all.

Rose Szabo’s writing is so brilliant and delightfully absurd. My favourite thing about gothic fiction is that the writing is so indulgent, things happen and don’t make sense, you get descriptions of strange corridors and are left baffled and confused at times. Szabo’s world and writing is so immersive, that I was completely hooked into the very strangeness of the story and its happenings. The plot takes a while to pick up, and for the first couple of chapters, you are still trying to wrap your brain around the family members and their contrasting actions. But in no point was I disassociated or bored. Now I do know that this won’t work for everyone, and I will warn you that some might find this slow. But there was such a control in the writing that the book never got too lost in its abstractions, which I was super grateful for.

The characters are so fascinating. Even by description they are so rich – the grandfather is a werewolf who likes to shift into a wolf for fun while eating raw meat at the dinner table. One half of Eleanor’s mom’s body is made of polyps and she permanently lives in a bathtub. There is a luna lovegood-esque sister, a himbo cousin, and a creepy aunt. There is a dangerously alluring family friend who everyone seems drawn towards – including Eleanor. I was so intrigued by these characters who were all such a delight to unravel and see more of.

I don’t want to say too much about the plot in fear of spoiling things, but as I mentioned earlier, this book is definitely a hit or a miss, but I would strongly recommend it to anyone who’s a fan of Tim Burton movies, atmospheric horror, and werewolves. What Big Teeth is a delightful indulgence of ambiguity, horror, and monsters, and I really hope you give it a shot!
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RATING: 2 Enchanted Roses

ONE-WORD REVIEW: GOTHIC

OPENING LINE: I opened my eyes, and I was on the train.

REVIEW: 

I was fortunate enough to be gifted an ARC of WHAT BIG TEETH on Netgalley -- thank you Farrar, Straus and Giroux! I was looking forward to the read -- I didn't read the premise because I didn't want to be spoiled but I loved the cover and the title so I was intrigued.

WHAT BIG TEETH is in one word: Confusing. Three words: Confusing. As. Hell. It’s creepy, atmospheric, and weird -- all things that I like. But you cannot have all of those aspects and then be confusing. There's a fine line between mysterious and confusing. And this book is outright confusing. Most of the time I felt as if I didn't know what the hell was going on and by the time I was only like 20%, I was ready to give up because it was just too weird and confusing. 

In the back of my mind, I was always asking myself: what the heck am I reading? We've got this teenage girl, Eleanor Zarrin, who ran away from boarding school back to the family who sent her away, to begin with. To a family who is casually werewolves. I couldn't connect with Eleanor. To be honest, she annoyed me for the most part. While I understood her frustrations and fears regarding her family, you'd think she'd have more of a backbone growing up with her family in her formative years -- especially given have badass she was made out to be at that young age.

A grandfather who may or may not have murdered his firstborn son and a grandmother thought her husband was a monster for it but stayed with him and loves him anyway. Or maybe the grandmother just thought the grandfather was a monster because she found out he was a werewolf? 

Speaking of the grandmother, who is not a werewolf but the fortune-telling matriarch, was hard to get a read on. She was actually the one who sent Eleanor away -- why I have no idea. She seemed mean and cold towards Eleanor and treated her as if she was a threat to the family. even though the family was frightening Eleanor, threatening her, and even nearly killing her on a few occasions. And who, not to mention, couldn't even shift to wolf form.

Also, I don't know what the hell is going on in this book mother has weird skin she apparently Sydney forgotten about witches weird because the skin condition is so Isabel and Unforgettable Hollywood you forget that she had that and then also the mom sits in a bathtub all day at the dinner table Lounge in front of the fireplace outside in the garden is always in bathtub or barrel of water. But we don't know why . . . 

Then we have her sister, the beautiful Luna, who she has her sister and her best friend she's written to hundreds of letters while she was in exile but the sister never responded. To make it worse, after seeing her sister for the first time in 8 years, Luna gives her a hug, claims she misses her but doesn't even let her finish speaking before promptly ignoring her.

Next, we have the cousin, Rhys. He is the favored child who was to inherit everything. At first, when Eleanor returned, he was affectionate and charming. But then he suddenly turned out to be an asshole, who kept trying to scare Eleanor (not in the cute, prank type of way), borderline threatened her bodily harm, and may or may not be raping Arthur . . .

Arthur is supposed to be the love interest... I think? Well, he's who's is a one dimension character, we know nothing about, and who rarely speaks. And everyone -- Eleanor, her father, her sister, and her cousin, Rhys -- seems to be obsessed with fighting for his affections, or rather who gets first dibs at taking advantage of him? As the info on his character is vague, I'm assuming he's vampire but the family is also able to force him to do things he doesn't want to do which makes him angry but he continues to come back under the guise that he's the family’s accountant. Weird.  

All in all, WHAT BIG TEETH was a weird, disorienting ride and not really my thing. I love the Addams family and this book has those vibes but it's too hard to follow. Rose Szabo's knack for atmosphere is noteworthy -- dark, gothic, weird was done fabulously. The worldbuilding was also up to par for the story. Unfortunately, the pacing was poorly executed but that's probably because there's no real plot going on and it was confusing.

Happy Reading!
Ashley
www.TheTatteredPage.com
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