Cover Image: What Big Teeth

What Big Teeth

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While it had some vivid gothic imagery, frightening scenes and dramatic twists, What Big Teeth was a rather frustrating read. It starts with a terrifying forest chase and moves to the introduction to the main character, Eleanor, and her return to her family home after eight years away at boarding school. Upon arrival, we meet her family: her polyp-covered mother who must sit in a tub or shrivel; her sister with the sharp teeth and lacey things; her loud and angry cousin who is completely unable to shut a door without slamming it; her father who stays distant; her grandfather who wants to eat her; the grandmother that sent her away; and the family friend, Arthur, who no less than three family members are obsessed with. 

The family is initially happy to see her but completely ignore her after a quick “Welcome Back” party. There’s an incomprehensible love/hate relationship between them all and it’s disturbing. It is the weirdest combination of unlikeables with no explanation as to the who, what and/or why of their existence. Chapters upon chapters go by and the only reason I know her family is mostly made of werewolves is because I read it on the book jacket. We know Eleanor must be different, but are only given clues in dropper-size hints: Her blood is yellow, she has strange dreams, something happened at boarding school. It was a slooooow burn reveal that I found frustrating. Towards the middle I felt like I was finally connecting with the story and was enjoying it until…well, the ending is creepy, really creepy, but confusing.

It was a good read for the author's atmospheric setting and some truly terrifying scenes but I almost DNF'ed at 26%.

(Thanks to Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The opinions are completely my own.)
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Oookay. I’ll start off by saying this is a fairly positive 3-star review. I had some issues with it, which I’ll get to in a second, but overall it was a deeply imaginative and atmospheric book that someone is sure to absolutely love. Unfortunately, I am not that person.

So a few good things to start:

Like I said, this book is very atmospheric and has a beautiful, dark, gothic setting that is just lovely. The plot, too, grabs you from the very beginning. There are strange things going on and you want an explanation. The characters, too, were fairly intriguing. All of them pretty much seemed to have their own things going on, which is great in a horror, as it adds another layer to the mystery. Also, I thought the ending was pretty solid compared to what the rest of the book gave me.

Everything else in between, however, is where things get a little tough for me.

The plot reeled me in from the beginning. And then went nowhere. I have to say I was pretty disappointed when I got several chapters into this book and still only had a vague sense of everything going on. The story was hard to follow and definitely tapered off there for a while in the middle (even after Grandmere showed up).

Sometimes I can deal with atmospheric books with not too much plot, as long as there’s a deeper story going on with the main character. That wasn’t necessarily the case here. I didn’t not like Eleanor as the main character, but she was a little difficult to connect with.

The story as a whole was difficult to connect with. Too often bits and pieces of information were vaguely laid out, as is common in mystery/horror stories, but then I never really had that satisfying moment where everything clicks. I think some of the questions were never answered at all and that’s just frustrating.

Anyway, I won’t go on too long about this. Overall, it was an enjoyable read, but very confusing for me and at times a little dull. I really think, though, that there should be plenty of people out there that end up loving this book. So if you’re a fan of dark, atmospheric stories and things like Wilder Girls by Rory Power and the Addams Family movies, then this book is probably for you.
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What Big Teeth by Rose Szabo was on my radar after seeing this incredibly beautiful cover and I’m happy to say that you can judge a book by its cover in this case.

This story is bizarre, unique, and entrancing!

I’m a huge fan of horror, gothic, dark stuff so I wouldn’t say it scared me, but it certainly engrossed me.

The story is based around our MC, Eleanor, who was sent to Saint Brigid Boarding School by her Grandma Persephone (yes, to that name!) and she hasn’t heard from her family and vice versa for years. She has been bullied endlessly and one day she decides enough is enough and she ends up making a terrible mistake and runs away from the school. With nowhere else to go, she ends up back at home where she is less than greeted with a family that is creepier and less endearing than the Addams family.

I won’t even get into all the details because each one of them is complex, weird, awkward, dysfunctional, and could probably have their own book.

I’m not going to get into much more about the plot either as I don’t want to give anything away because part of the experience is the twists and turns and unexpected terrifying things lurking around each corner.

The book had my attention from the beginning, but I think I can honestly say, it just kept getting better!

I found Szabo’s writing to be enthralling and perfectly dark in all the right ways. I think this was a fantastic debut novel and I can’t wait to see what else they publish in the future.
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BOOK REPORT for What Big Teeth by Rose Szabo

Cover Story: Montell Jordan
BFF Charm: Caution
Swoonworthy Scale: 1
Talky Talk: Gothic
Bonus Factors: Paranormal Creatures, Kickass Gram
Relationship Status: Reply Hazy, Try Again Later

Cover Story: Montell Jordan
I love, love, love this cover. The colors, the illustration style, the spooky-as-heck wicked-looking teeth that overlay the cover model's mouth. It's super unique and intriguing while giving hints as to what this story's about.

The Deal:
Eleanor's been away from her family for eight years, but an incident at her boarding school has her running home to reintegrate. Easier said than done, however, because she's been gone long enough to have forgotten how to be a part of her family—which is made up of literal monsters.

BFF Charm: Caution
Eleanor seems like the most normal member of her family, but vague memories of her youth and things her family hint at had me getting ready to run at a moment's notice. I think I'd be too afraid of her to be her friend, but I do really appreciate her dedication to keeping her family in line. I'd definitely never accept an invite to spend a weekend at her house. At least, not after the first time I went … if I survived.

Swoonworthy Scale: 1
When she returns home, Eleanor soon finds herself with feelings toward a strange family friend. But there's (much) more to him than meets the eye, and her attraction isn't exactly honest. Eleanor needs to get out more and find someone who's not entrenched in her family's extremely strange business.

Talky Talk: Gothic
I don't exactly know how to describe What Big Teeth. It's a strange book that rides a fine line between fantasy and horror, with a lot of information that goes unsaid and questions left unanswered. But that's what makes it super intriguing. It's a bit dream-like, but not in the fuzzy, half-remembered sense; rather, Szabo's writing is clear and concise, but the story itself seems to be set slightly aside from reality. (And I'm not talking specifically about the paranormal aspects, which are the most obvious "this is fiction" indicators.) It feels like a fairy tale we've all forgotten existed or a bit of folklore that's only known to certain regions of the world and hasn't yet made its way into popular culture.

Bonus Factor: Paranormal Creatures
Eleanor's family is strange. Some of her relatives roam the woods on all fours, hunting whatever they might find out there, and others read tarot and brew potions—some to heal and some to harm. No one in this family is normal, and no one in this family exactly fits the "standard" molds for the type of paranormal creatures they are. Szabo's done a really great job of making these creatures their own.

Bonus Factor: Kickass Gram
OK, those of you who've read or will read What Big Teeth likely think I'm slightly crazy for giving Eleanor's Grandmother Persephone this nod. She's not a nice woman. She's made really terrible decisions in her life. She's unfriendly to Eleanor. But she has reasons—however flawed—for what she does: It's all to protect her family. (And, in the end, she's actually very helpful.) She's a no-nonsense, take no prisoners, hardened-by-life kind of battle-ax woman who's seriously impressive and someone you definitely wouldn't want to cross. This is why she gets this designation.

Relationship Status: Reply Hazy, Try Again Later
I really don't know how I feel about you, Book, and I don't think you'd fault me for being so uncertain. You're dangerous and compelling, but also frightening … I'm not sure I'd trust my heart—either literally or figuratively—in your hands. But I might be willing to throw caution to the wind ...
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An extremely uncomfortable unsettling and atmospheric debut novel. Szabo's writing style pulls you in from the gruesome prologue, creating a world that is...not quite right. The book is in Eleanor's perspective a seemingly normal girl with a monstrous family. The descriptions of Eleanor's family members are absolutely horrifying from her beastly grandfather to her grotesque sea creature mother. The book takes a turn quickly in the bizarre and surreal. What Big Teeth is an excellent debut and I look forward to reading more from the author.
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This was unlike any book I’ve ever read! It is incredibly creative and descriptive, and takes readers on a fantastical ride. Shapeshifters, mind control, and magic blend together to create a world of danger, fear, friendship, and love. This boundless creativity can make for a difficult read, though. My literal mind struggled to understand what was going on at times and to keep up with how descriptive the author is in each scene and with each character. Her descriptions were interesting without being “wordy”, however it was almost too much because I found myself trying to picture exactly what was being described and was falling short, which frustrated me a bit. But I can easily see my high school students devouring this book (pun intended), and it would make for a really cool movie or TV series adaptation.
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Eleanor Zarrin has come home from boarding school at last, back to the family home in Winterport. She’s longed to be back among her family for years, but never had any word from them after being sent away. She remembers bits and pieces of her life before, though, and some of her nightmares may have more grounding in reality than she ever would’ve dared to believe.

Upon her return, she finds that most of the people of Winterport are utterly terrified of her family, and by extension, her. For good reason, too. You see, the Zarrins are monsters. Eleanor’s father, grandfather, sister, and cousin are werewolves, hunting around the grounds of the family estate. Her mother spends her days in a washtub to soak the polyps that live on one side of her body. Grandma Persephone funds the family through her crafting of love potions and poisons, and reads tarot. Aunt Margaret doesn’t speak, but takes care of the house. Then there’s Arthur, the family’s assistant, who doesn’t seem to have aged a day since Eleanor left.

When tragedy strikes shortly after Eleanor’s return, the family is left in disarray, and Eleanor takes it upon herself to reach out to her mother’s mother in France for assistance. Little does Eleanor suspect that her Grandmere holds a dark secret of her own, that might just put an end to everything that the family has worked for. And then, of course, Eleanor herself is still a Zarrin…

What Big Teeth is a fantastic gothic fantasy that will wrap you up in its shadows and refuse to let you go. A debut novel from Rose Szabo, it’s available today. Go get yourself a copy.
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Thank you so much @fiercereads for sending me a free e-arc in exchange for an honest review!

This was so disturbing, and I kinda loved it. I've never read anything like this before. It was so freaky and had me questioning everything. I was so confused half the time, but in a good way.

This family was so messed up on many levels. I wanted to slap the main character a few times because of her dumb decisions at times.

I will say, which I know many will not be surprised, I LOVED the wolf part of this! Yall know my obsession with Werewolves/Wolf Shifters/Wolves. So the fact that her family was filled with them made me oh so happy.

𝗥𝗲𝗰𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗲𝗻𝗱 𝗶𝗳 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝗹𝗶𝗸𝗲: Disturbing, Family Drama, Wolves, Witches, Magic, Gruesome, Dark.
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This is not your average YA werewolf story. Rose Szabo has taken the superficial out of the supernatural with this gorgeous book and has replaced it with some dark, gritty and bloody that anyone can sink their teeth into.
This story has wonderful pacing, anf dark and dangerous atmosohere. I truly never guessed what was going on and who or what the real monsters were in this story of love and family. Following the protagonist as she rediscovers the truth of her family and herself, the mystery and suspense are palpable, and you never know who you can trust or what might just happen.
The writing, the creativity, and twists on old stories and the metaphors and language..this is one to add to your shelves.
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I received a free e-ARC of What Big Teeth thanks to Fierce Reads in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

The synopsis of this story sounded so good. I was so intrigued and couldn’t wait to read about this mysterious Eleanor and her monstrous family. 

Upon reading it, however, I was mostly confused. There were times in the story where I thought I knew where it was heading, but overall I was lost. I think it could have been really good if I had gotten a better grasp of what was going on, or what was supposed to have been going on. But I just didn’t get it. 

I know it must be me, because there are so many rave reviews. And that’s okay! I want everyone to love it!! Go pick up your copy—it’s out today!
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After an incident at her boarding school, Eleanor Zarrin flees back to her family home in the small town of Winterport, Maine.  Eleanor doesn't know quite what to expect upon her arrival after being sent away years earlier for being too dangerous.  Eleanor can't remember the exact reason that her grandmother Persephone wanted her gone. Upon her return Eleanor is the one frightened of her sister Luma, cousin Rhys and grandfather Miklos' untamed wolf forms, her mother's half coral body and her Aunt Margaret's silent acceptance.  As Eleanor tries to figure out her place within her strange family, her Grandmother Persephone dies, leaving her an ominous warning that she must now take care of the family.  To do this, Eleanor seeks out her other grandmother and unknowingly unleashes an even larger monster upon the family. 

What Big Teeth is a unique young adult fantasy horror that kept me on the edge of my seat as Eleanor unraveled the many strange elements of her family.  The writing is immediately engaging, leaving the reading with a constant sense of wanting to know more and needing to dig deeper into the secrets of the Zarrin family.  The Zarrin family is filled with many different types of monsters, yet they seem very familiar as they deal with family drama.  Every aspect of the Zarrin family pulled me in and left me in a suspenseful state from Persephone's death, to Miklos' and Rhys' wild habits and the oddities of their family friend, Arthur who seems ageless, can only drink Margaret's special coffee blend and may be controlled by Persephone.  The addition of Eleanor's other grandmother created yet another mystery and wreaked havoc on every member of the Zarrin family.  With her other grandmother, Eleanor learns that she may be the most dangerous monster of them all; and yet, she may be the only one who can save what is left of her family.  What Big Teeth is an unexpected gothic tale with many surprising twists and turns.

This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
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Eleanor Zarrin returns to her family's estate after fleeing from an incident at her boarding school. After being away from her family for 8 years, she struggles to find her place among her Addams Family-type relatives with werewolves, and octopus-type creature, and lots of monsters.

This is a YA gothic fantasy novel written in first-person from Eleanor's perspective. Eleanor is naïve as she puts her family in dangerous situations. Her Grandmother Persephone tells her not to let any strangers into the house and Eleanor turns around does what she was explicitly told not to do. Her older sister, Luma, is constantly flouncing and it's difficult to tell how old she truly is (Eleanor was sent to boarding school at about age 11, putting her at 19, which means Luma is maybe 20/21?). There's also a super cringy love pentagon with a mysterious family-friend named Arthur, which is still not all the way explained why the family is so enamored with him. The last 3-5 chapters of the book were the most interesting and action-packed and the cover is striking, but this was just an "ok" for me. Too much exposition given from a character who didn't know much...
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A family of werewolves, a tentacled human, an enigmatic family friend who refuses to say no to any request and a silent aunt. Eleanor returns to her family home after a boarding school disaster. But, she remembers little of her family, her home or her place in them. Everyone else seems to know Eleanor and her secrets, but they remain hidden from her. When her paternal grandmother and family matriarch dies suddenly, Eleanor is desperate to fulfill her dying wish to protect the others. This desperation urges her to invite her maternal grandmother to visit and help. Unbeknownst to Eleanor, this grandmother possesses the power of compulsion bending everyone to her will simply by speaking her wish. To save herself and the family she is learning to appreciate, Eleanor must discover her true self, her own power and claim her place in the world.

Readers will be seduced by the fabulous cover and expect a fantastic story about werewolves and will discover so much more. Rich in symbolism and layered meaning that reads like a fable layered with mystery. What Big Teeth is a book sure to generate good conversation with book clubs and lit circles alike. There’s so much happening under the surface of the story, within the characters and in all of their relationships. All the characters have varying degrees of good and evil. More or less monstrous in relation to each other and the situation. Sure to be popular with readers who enjoy dark, fantastical reads and unreliable narrators. Perfect for fans of Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane. and Melissa Bashardoust’s Girl, Serpent, Thorn.
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3.5 stars

"What big teeth you have, Grandma..." All the better to eat you with, my dear. This debut is filled with teeth, ominous undertones, and horror-set vibes. A very interesting debut, even if it didn't jive for me personally.

Concepts: ★★★★★
Writing style/how plot points were unveiled via the writing: ★★
Use of speculative elements: ★★★ 1/2
Pacing: ★★★
Overall Enjoyment: ★★★ 1/2

Eleanor Zarrin has been away at boarding school for many, many years. But it's time to come home—she has no choice. What greets her at home is her family...shapeshifters, eldritch horrors mixed with human features, the family friend who eats nothing and gleams in the moonlight, and her fortune-telling grandmother holding it all together.

But when Eleanor's grandmother dies violently over the tarot card deck while reading Eleanor's fortune, things start to turn sour in the Zarrin household.

With no where to turn to and feeling trapped by her family's suspicions and distanced aloofness, Eleanor finds a letter from her other grandmother locked in a chest. She decides to invite her to come to the Zarrin house. It would be nice to meet her other grandmother...

But no one in the Zarrin household—whether they have teeth, sea-skin, or blackened maws—is ready for the Other Grandmother. Least of all Eleanor.

"You take after your other grandmother, Eleanor," they said. They never meant it as a compliment.

My thoughts:
So for those who know my reading tastes, this seems like the perfect read. Right? That makes it extra painful to share that I really... didn't mesh with this story at all. It might the case of it's me, not the book. Definitely take all of the below with a grain of salt.

In particular, I found it extremely hard to get into the groove with the way the story was told. Basic plot facts were purposefully dangled and never explained, and yet we spent a lot of time on physical descriptions and internal thought processes, so the lack of plot depth became frustrating as opposed to interesting. It left me with a very uneven sense of what was even happening—and NOT in a good way like a typical mysterious horror set-up. If we'd been vague in all things, it would have made sense as a style choice, but with way too much time spent with Eleanor's thoughts on mundane teenage romance feelings and descriptions of the settings the lack of plot knowledge felt like a lack of building.

I also thought that the pacing seemed off, but that could be tied to my frustrations with the way the story unfolded. The first half felt like we were in a holding pattern, and while the vague, horror "What's happening??" atmosphere worked for the first 100 pages... I got bored waiting for the shoe to drop and the plot to begin. And when it did begin, then I was frustrated that we veered away from that and decided to focus on a romantic subplot that didn't seem to make sense in the story. Without spoilers I can't say much, but if you'd just snipped out the romance it would have been a lot stronger. It was a distraction, for me, and an added frustration when combined with the rest of this (vagueness, lack of plot action, etc).

But I did find the ending worked out well. It was worth the wait, and even though it became easy to predict the further you read, that lack of surprise did not take away from the satisfaction of the moment.

Overall, definitely check this one out if the cover appeals to you and you're a fan of horror and speculative fiction.

Thank you to the publisher via NetGalley for an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review.
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Thank you to Xpresso Book Tours for an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

3.5/5 stars

I've read a lot of books, but let me tell you--this is one of the most bizarre books I've read! And that's not a bad thing. I love books that are so out there that I've never read anything like it before! For someone who can't handle a horror novel, I love a creepy gothic read. This book fulfilled that perfectly! The atmosphere, the urban fantasy was perfect!

Eleanor Zarrin has been estranged from her wild family for years. When she flees boarding school after a horrifying incident, she goes to the only place she thinks is safe: the home she left behind. But when she gets there, she struggles to fit in with her monstrous relatives, who prowl the woods around the family estate and read fortunes in the guts of birds. Eleanor finds herself desperately trying to hold the family together — in order to save them all, Eleanor must learn to embrace her family of monsters and tame the darkness inside her. Exquisitely terrifying, beautiful, and strange, this fierce gothic fantasy will sink its teeth into you and never let go.

I'm not sorry, but I requested this book entirely on the stunning cover alone! I read the synopsis afterward, but that brilliant cover is an instant money grab! It conveys the tone and mood of the book in the best possible way. It would be worth getting a physical copy for the cover alone!

The best part of What Big Teeth by far is the gothic atmosphere. As I said, I don't do horror, but I love gothic books! The writing and the setting blend together perfectly to create a dark ambiance that carries through the book and makes it perfectly creepy.

What Big Teeth is the kind of book you go into for the creepiness alone. Although I liked the characters well enough, they weren't one of the best parts. The main romance felt very forced in my opinion, as well as insta-lovey. I loved the family dynamics, though! Not enough YA books have families. Sometimes we'll get a sister or brother or something, but I'm about sick of books on orphans.

Though I loved many elements of What Big Teeth, there were definitely gaps. For instance, when does the book take place? I would have loved to know. It seemed like modern-day, or at least close enough, but they were talking about record players and there seemed to be no internet. I get that they appeared to be in a very isolated place that might not have caught up to the rest of the world, but there were just little details here and there that kept me guessing. This isn't that much of a big deal, but it kept me confused the whole time. My final guess is that it took place sometime in the late 60s, but I would love to know for real!

I assumed from the title that this is a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, but it definitely isn't. While some of the family are werewolves, there is no Big Bad Wolf. This is neither a bad nor a good thing, but if you're looking for a retelling this isn't it.

I had a great time with this read! It was definitely a solid gothic novel and it'll probably be entering my rotation of spooky books to read in the fall!
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I can imagine that this book may have a polarized reception - readers will either enjoy or be frustrated in being left too in the dark for so long. The plot elements and world were definitely extremely interesting. This protagonist was not my favourite, but I can understand her characterization and flaws. At the beginning of the novel she feels like an outsider in her own home, and her frustrations are certainly founded.  This was certainly a different read - odd, but in a good and entertaining way! 

Thank you to Raincoast Reads and Netgalley for this e-arc in exchange for my honest review!
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"𝘚𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘸𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘪𝘯𝘴𝘪𝘥𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦'𝘴 𝘴𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘦𝘭𝘴𝘦,...𝘠𝘰𝘶 𝘫𝘶𝘴𝘵 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘤𝘩 𝘪𝘯𝘴𝘪𝘥𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘱𝘶𝘭𝘭 𝘪𝘵 𝘰𝘶𝘵."⁣
What Big Teeth is quite easily the oddest book I have ever read. It's part horror story but also a coming of age story about love and family. Rose Szabo writes in such an engrossing way, that I had a hard time putting this book down and it rarely left my thoughts when I was forced to stop reading due to work or sleep. The first third of the book confused and intrigued me.  By the middle, I had just accepted the bizarreness and became attached to the characters. The end finally gives you the answers you wanted at the beginning so I was anxious to see how it would all turn out. I feel certain that I'll never find another book like this, a feat that's hard to accomplish in a world full of books and libraries containing an endless number of stories. For many reasons, I enjoyed this book, but for that reason alone I recommend it to all. ⁣
𝘋𝘪𝘴𝘤𝘭𝘢𝘪𝘮𝘦𝘳:  𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘲𝘶𝘰𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘦𝘹𝘵 𝘪𝘴 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘢𝘯 𝘢𝘥𝘷𝘢𝘯𝘤𝘦𝘥 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘥𝘦𝘳 𝘤𝘰𝘱𝘺 𝘐 𝘳𝘦𝘤𝘦𝘪𝘷𝘦𝘥 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 MacmillanUSA 𝘢𝘯𝘥 NetGalley 𝘪𝘯 𝘦𝘹𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘯𝘨𝘦 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘮𝘺 𝘩𝘰𝘯𝘦𝘴𝘵 𝘳𝘦𝘷𝘪𝘦𝘸. ⁣
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This book might grab you immediately, or it may not. What is intriguing about it is that it works for only a certain style of reader. I was not too fond of it at first; the way it was written threw me off. After reading a bit here and there, I finally sat down to read it. I thought it was a great read once it starts, it can be too ambiguous at times, but it all works. I think the idea of the monsters being family or someone that was familiar was a fascinating plot or way to go with the story, and I did enjoy that. It can be quite gothic, but very enjoyable.
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Series Info/Source:  This is a stand alone book.  I got an eGalley from NetGalley to review.

Story (4/5): This was an odd, but well done, book.  Eleanor has spent the last seven years at a boarding school but flees home because of the school.  The problem is she doesn't really fit with her really odd family, who are very literally monsters.  As she struggles to fit in a disaster happens and, at a loss, she contacts her French grandmother to help.  However, her French grandmother is something else completely.

This is a dark story and a bit ambiguous at times. It does have some Lovecraftesque types of undertones as well (I feel like I am reading a lot of stories that draw influence from Lovecraft lately).  For much of the book you are trying to figure out a lot of the family's secrets.  I found it engaging and liked it but it crossed the line of being just a bit too out there for me at points.

Characters (4/5):  The characters are what pretty much make this story.  Initially you don’t really know what kinds of monsters Eleanor’s family are; it’s pretty apparent that there are some werewolves but the others are more mysterious.  Eleanor is intriguing because there is a lot of mystery behind why she was sent to boarding school and what made her leave.  All of these characters are complex, intriguing and mysterious.  I ended up enjoying them for the most part, although at times they were hard to relate to and by the end I still didn’t feel like I understood them well.

Setting (4/5):  I could never really get a feel for the time frame the story takes place in.  It seems to be in the 1950’s because they talk about The War a bit.  It also seems to be set in a small European town and more specifically set at the mansion Eleanor’s family built in this town.  The setting definitely influences the story because of the way Eleanor’s family has a somewhat symbiotic relationship with the town.

Writing Style (4/5):  This is all told from Eleanor’s POV and is well written and easy to read.  I found that the mysteries presented here kept me engaged and interested in the story.  The pacing does lag at times and the ambiguity of what is going on can be a bit tough to figure out.  You are pretty much dropped into this strange family and then left to wade through and figure everything out; it was well done but a bit confusing too.   The book takes some strange and dark turns towards the end that were a bit much for me, but I enjoyed the creativity behind it.

My Summary (4/5):  Overall this was an odd little book that I enjoyed but didn’t love.  I did really enjoy unraveling these strange mysteries alongside Eleanor but that story is a bit slow and ambiguous at times.  I loved the monsters introduced and enjoyed how things unraveled with finding out what Eleanor was but this was also a bit too “out there” for me.  This is definitely a dark story about monsters and has some very Lovecraft overtones to it.
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”I’ve been alone for so long that I can’t remember what it feels like to belong,”

What Big Teeth is YA gothic fantasy perfection. It has a dark and dreary vibe, but somehow is still incredibly colorful and exciting. It’s full of impactful metaphors for love, loneliness, self worth, and relationships. I love how Eleanor, the lead character, and the Zarrin family are sort of revealed to us slowly and layer by layer. We meet werewolves, but eventually learn a deeper story and dive into navigating a mystery about her family and her past.

Eleanor is the main character for sure, and we follow her journey from fleeing her boarding school to trying to relearn her own family. She’s terrified of them, but she has nowhere else to go. It’s been years since she’s seen them, and they are monsters! “She’s nothing like them,” or is she?

This book for sure nails that spooky kooky gothic vibe. A gothic old house, a cast of monsters, ghosts, wary townspeople, and other things. There’s nothing light about this book in my opinion. It’s dark and sort of sad, and has its own unique vibe even if it’s reminiscent of other fictional monster families. Eleanor is trying to fit in with and have meaning in her family, and while doing so she’s putting them in boxes in her head that aren’t right. Eleanor sort of discovers who she is and what is right and what is wrong. I kind of wanted to shake her for most of the book, and tell her to open her eyes, but in the end I understood her and her journey a bit better.

There’s some mystery and some thrills, but simply put this story is just an entertaining YA gothic fantasy following a sort of creepy teen girl, trying to understand and fit into her seemingly mismatched family. I think that there are plenty of messages and deeper meanings in this story that people will be able to pull out and feel a connection to. I know I highlighted so many lines that just felt like they had deeper meaning than the context they were said in.

I’d say if you enjoyed the Addams Family films, and wish they were a little more emo, then you’ll LOVE this book. I did. Can’t wait to read more from this author.
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