Cover Image: The Spirit Bares Its Teeth

The Spirit Bares Its Teeth

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This is a heavy one. The Spirit Bares Its Teeth is one part a story of queerness in the Victorian age and one part pure horror.

Andrew Joseph White has created an alternative history where there is a society with purple eyes that can access the veil between the living and dead. In this world, women who don't conform to societal norms are sent to asylums or reform schools to fix their "veil sickness."

I really enjoyed the discussion of trans visibility and medical experimentation. This was gruesome and vivid, a wild ride from start to finish.

Also: please read the authors note for more info on medical experimentation on minorities in the Victorian age. It could shed some more light on the realities White is referencing in their book.

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First of all, can we please take a moment to admire that 5 stars cover art and how perfectly it fits the YA historical horror fiction genre?

"Flesh and bone make more sense to me than the people they add up to."

The macabre does not stop at the cover however. Detailed accounts and imaginings of body horror are part and parcel of the writing through Silas, who is hyperfixated on and fascinated by anatomy and surgery, and later on... through creepy, disturbing and thoroughly confronting secrets uncovered in the "corrective" boarding school Silas is forced into.

This is not an easy read, and I have incuded a list of the major trigger warnings at the bottom hidden as spoilers in case you prefer to go in blind. However, considering the main selling point of this story, one that I absolutely adore, is a trans, neurodivergent (autistic with high functioning anxiety) protagonist, themes of transphobia, sexism and ableism are explored throughout the book. On top of all of that which is wrong with the society of London, 1883, women with violet eyes are treated as prized possessions, objects to be bought and traded. Creatures that can commune with spirits but aren't allowed to. No, no. Leave that work to the men. Violet-eyed women who dabbles in the delicate arts will only be driven to madness, thus subjected to abuse.

"I should not have to keep fixing the damage done to us". It is so easy to not hurt us... It's more work to hurt us, it's more work to be cruel and yet..."

And lord, the writing is gorgeous. Atmospheric and so emotional, every character and scene is rendered beautifully, to the point of being poetic. While the plot was a little strangely paced and the soft fantasy meant that the magic is a little wishy washy, the characters and development of the society, based on history, are so strong that I'm seriously in awe of Andrew Joseph White. He even includes a little note on the historical accuracy and representation of the main themes of this story that completely stole my heart.

Trigger Warnings: gore, like unanaesthetised c-section levels of gore, grooming, sexual assault, physical and emotional abuse

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I read and enjoyed Hell Followed With Us, so I was excited to see this next release by Andrew Joseph White. I loved the set up in Victorian society and the concept of people with purple eyes who are able to connect with spirits.

The main character was well done and sympathetic in so many ways. I appreciated that they are neurodivergent although it is never specifically labeled. I also appreciated their thoughts on their gender and body dysmorphia.

That said, I found this book perhaps a bit gratuitous in its graphic details. There is an on page sexual assault, torture described explicitly, murder, and more. For my personal taste, it was a bit excessive. Not that those things shouldn’t have happened, but I just didn’t always need it explained with such excruciating clarity.

All in all, I still enjoyed it and think that anyone who likes graphic horror and diverse representation will likely enjoy this book.

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Andrew Joseph White can never write a bad book, and this is the perfect example of why he is an amazing author. Oh my lord this was amazing in every single way. I love the cover, I love the story, I love the characters, I love the representation, I love everything in this book.

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wow. what a book. what an experience. can't believe something so raw and beautiful can be felt sometimes

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Thank you NetGalley for providing me with an e-arc of this book! :)

I absolutely loved this book! It was so different from anything I've read before. I definitely recommend this book for the Fall time; it has the perfect gothic horror atmosphere. However, I would recommend checking any TW's before picking up this book. The plot was so interesting with the addition of so many elements like veil sickness, the speaker society, Braxton's, and the disappearance of several girls.

While I found the book was slightly slow at the beginning, it quickly picked up the pace allowing me to easily binge it. I also enjoyed all of our characters. I felt so attached to our main character Silas; he was so passionate, complex, vulnerable, and brave. I was desperately worried for Silas as the book progressed. I also loved the addition of medical horror from Silas. I really appreciated how different all the characters at Braxton's were; they all had unique personalities, experiences, and traumas. Daphne’s character was also an absolute delight, and I loved her relationship with Silas. I was both thrilled and satisfied by the end of the book. I'm hoping we can get an additional short story of these characters in the future.

Overall, I'm surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. I loved the plot, characters, and unique writing. I'm definitely picking up Andrew Joseph White's other book in the near future!

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The Spirit Bares Its Teeth is a wonderfully written and deeply moving paranormal horror centering compelling main character and wonderful world building.

1. Dialogue was handled expertly
2. The Main Character is a trans individual and somewhere on the autism spectrum. Both facts matter to the plot without either being treated like a spectacle.
3. There is an element of mystery to the story as a whole.
4. Sexism is portrayed realistically

Readers who enjoyed the author's earlier offering of Hell follows with us will find themselves sucked into this new story and new fans will find this story an excellent entry point for paranormal horror.

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Losing my MIND over this visceral, heartbreaking horror novel featuring a trans autistic protagonist in 1800s England. I adored Hell Followed With Us, so I had high hopes for this, and it delivered. I love that White writes marginalized protagonists who bite back and are ready to fight ugly to get what they deserve. Besides Silas and Daphne, who I loved, Mary stood out to me as a supporting character and I'll be thinking about all of them for a long time.

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Trigger Warnings:
Blood
Body Gore
Transphobia
Homophobia
Conversion Therapy


Andrew Joseph White is a master at creating a immersive, yet terrifying world that is based in history that is not told enough.

Silas is an engaging main character, the world complex. highly recommend reading this but but you need to be very aware of the trigger warnings and the content.

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Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for the earc !

The spirit bares it's teeth is gothic horror medical mystery novel. It's brutal and hinges on the female hysteria related treatments in the late 1800s. I found myself unable to vibe with any of the characters. I might not be the right audience for the book. I hope you give it a try despite my review. Thank you for the copy !

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Beautiful, haunting , heavy read , handling a lot of vulnerable identities with incredible care and grace. This one took me a while to read, but Andrew Joseph White is once again cemented as one of my favorite authors

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I feel like it bears mentioning that I first read Andrew Joseph White's The Spirit Bares Its Teeth immediately following the completion of a queer horror fiction course I taught at university. So, I came to this book with all of the tropes, criticisms, and "perverse" forms of rebellion swirling in my head.

Truth be told, I think that made me love this book even more.

In my opinion, the key to successful, critical, and intriguing horror fiction is the author's ability to use traditional "scare tactics" to show the reader that what they've been told is grotesque and horrifying is not the root of what they should truly be afraid of. White does this masterfully.

Between the vivid moments of gore and the constant interweaving of the lands of the living and the dead, there are countless moments of traditionally "gross" and "creepy" things within this book. But those aren't what should scare us.

What should horrify us is the treatment of the main character, Silas, and the other "othered" characters he meets along his journey. The rampant and truly life-threatening transphobia, misogyny, ableism, and mistreatment of any and all characters who do not fit within the perfect box society has set forth—that is the horror underlying this novel and that makes the thought of ripping out your own eyes feel tame.

Andrew Joseph White gives us that horror—he gives us every layer of horror—in this novel in a way that manages to be somewhat gentle to the reader (a choice I imagine is tied to the YA audience this book has) without shying away from being truthful within the context of the world he's built.

Regardless of if the audience was the driving reason behind these choices, I do think any reader will appreciate the sense of community and the feelings of "home" that White does eventually allow Silas to find. Though narrative style of the novel can make the reader feel insulated and alone—as Silas himself often feels—the broader picture drives home that finding and building a community is one way to endure the horrors of the world.

Speaking of community, I do admit there was one point in the novel that did give me pause. I can't talk about it too much without giving away an element of the ending, but to be brief, I did feel like the other students that Silas meets at Braxton occasionally feel more like plot devices than characters with their own agency. Now, we could dig into the idea of agency, specifically as it relates to the position of students/patients but I think that would be a bit outside of the scope of this review. Instead, I'll just say that there was really only one instance/character that gave me pause in this regard but, that aside, I think White handled each character and the relationships built between them exceptionally well.

Though this is not an element of the novel's plot/story, I will say that I did appreciate the addition of the historical note at the end of the book. In this note, White points the reader towards other sources on real life historical events that impacted other marginalized communities in unspeakably horrific ways. This note is needed, and appreciated, as the horrors that he refers to are neither new nor so far past that their pain is not felt still today.

Overall, White's The Spirit Bares Its Teeth is a vivid and horrifying portrayal of real life horrors interwoven with a sort of spectral fantasy. But rest assured, even when the bleeding makes the wound too difficult to see, White and his characters will be there to apply pressure, staunch the flow, and make sure everything is sewn up tight—with a running stitch, of course.

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A brutal knife slash of a book that offers no false hope, no dreams of righteousness, just the knowledge that living one's truth is the best we can hope for. In Silas's world, violet eyed women exist to breed violet eyed men, who can be officially certified as mediums and work with the spirits permeating England and the world. Unfortunately for Silas, his parents think he is a girl, and his attempt to escape and build a life for himself gets him thrown into Braxton’s Finishing School and Sanitorium, where through violence and cruelty he is supposed to become a good, obedient Speaker wife, no longer trans or autistic. Major trigger warnings for sexual violence, conversion therapy, and general horrors, but The Spirit Bares Its Teeth is absorbing and brilliant, a reminder that trans people have always existed, even in the most repressive of times, and the only thing denial will do is harm. Silas's interest in medicine and analytical mind keep him sane in the most horrific situations, and his connections with the other inmates at Braxton's are detailed and thoughtful. It feels odd to recommend a book that hurts so much to read, but it is worth it.

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Andrew Joseph White does. Not. Miss. White is back with another smash hit full of Victorian queer angst, all the body horror a girl could want, and three dimensional trans characters. If White writes it, I will read it. I am already planning to reread for the spooky season.

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I. Am. Obsessed. This is my first book by Andrew Joseph White and it certainly won't be my last. This is not my typical genre in any way, but I had a hard time putting this one down - even when the scenes were hard to stomach at times. I eagerly await more of White's work and will absolutely be picking up Hell Followed With Us in the near future.

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This book was incredible and brutal and angry. It somehow felt like I was being ripped apart and put back together at the same time. I don't even know how to properly review this book and say anything other than a lot of screaming and incoherent babbling. Silas immediately captured my entire heart and the way he viewed and interacted with the world as an autistic person made me feel so seen. I am so full of love for him and for Daphne and so so angry at the world and the society who decided they needed to be fixed. I am so grateful and delighted the main characters (and the ghosts! yes there are ghosts!) were allowed to be ferocious and vengeful and angry.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that where this book truly shines is how incredibly it entwines misogyny, transphobia, and ableism. All of these things are something Silas contends with and it is impossible to separate them from each other, and I just really appreciated the way the author conveyed that and balanced them out. At no point did it feel like the characters were comparing their traumas and experiences with these things and acting like one of them had it worse than the others. The horror of the way they were all treated was very different but no less valid for their identities and who they were.

The medical horror and body horror in TSBIT is also so supremely well-written. I am not a squeamish person and there were still points where I had to just stop and process what I'd just read. Beyond just the medical horror though, the treatment of these women and Silas, and the way they're viewed in society and by the men in power, made me absolutely sick. It was just so real and uncomfortable and infuriating. This is by no means an easy or lighthearted read but my god, it is absolutely worth it.

I haven't had the chance to read Andrew White's other novel but I absolutely will be making it a priority to read soon. Queer trans kids deserve to be seen and heard and they deserve their rage.

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Thank you so much to Holiday House for allowing me read and review this book before its release! The Spirit Bares Its Teeth was one wild turn after another with lots of gruesome and gory details. I particularly enjoyed all the medical jargon and history employed throughout the story.
Silas, the protagonist, has special abilities that allow him to open the Veil between the living and the dead, but unfortunately, the abilities do not come without cost. He attempts to flee an arranged marriage which lands him in a psychiatric facility. Now, he must learn who can be trusted, how to escape, and what secrets lie among the corridors of his new "home."
Read this book if you love gory horror, stories of trans people overcoming obstacles, and found family! I could seriously not recommend this book enough!

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The Spirit Bares Its Teeth is a horror story that strikes at the heart of Victorian, England. Violet eyed women are sold like cattle to the wealthy Speakers so they in turn can be bred for violet eyed babies. Sons that can grow into mediums and daughters that can repeat the cycle. Silas, is an anomaly in this system. Born a biological girl, he has always felt in his heart that he is a man. After a series of rash decisions lands him in an school that claims to fix "veil sickness" and turn him into an obedient Speaker's wife, Silas has to to keep his head down while sniffing out the secrets of the school and the girls that vanish from it.

This book is horrifying and haunting in all the right ways. This book is fast-paced, with an atmosphere that is chilling. The mood is often somber, with random bright spots interspersed. The characters are well written, with my favorites being Silas, Daphne, and Isabella. I especially enjoyed the queer representation. The horrors hit home because minus the violet eyes, it has happened and could happen again. It mirrors what really happened in Victorian times and beyond. While a hard read to stomach at times, this book hit all the right notes.

Thank you to NetGalley and PeachTree Teen for this ARC. I am leaving this review voluntarily and all views expressed are my own.

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The Spirit Bares It Teeth beautifully captures the pain and fear of having to hide and mask who you are, and also the joy of being yourself and finding people like you. It's an angry and gory story but with a thread of hopefulness weaved throughout.

Silas and his world - an alternative Victorian London - are vividly drawn on the page, meaning as a reader you are swept into both the brutal awfulness of the situation he is in and the people around him, and also the little moments of connections and joy he finds.

Most of the story takes part in a mental institution/ school for "unwell girls", and through this setting, White rips apart the hypocrisy and brutality of Victorian patriarchy and its use of "female hysteria" as a means of control.

The use of the rabbit as the voice in Silas' head works brilliantly as a narrative device. It shows the fears and anxieties he's internalised from being brought up to hide and be ashamed of his differences (his autism and transness) and how he learns to overcome them.

This book had me riveted from start to finish, whether it was horrifying me with *that* caesarean scene, drawing me into its mystery, making me hate its many despicable characters, or bringing me joy for Silas and his little moments of connection.

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This is a horror story like no other I've ever read before. On top of the gore there is also the societal horror aspect that just draws you in. Violet eyed women are used as cattle to breed violet eyed babies. Any woman that goes against anything the speaker society does is deemed as "veilsick" and gets them send to Braxton to be rehabilitated. Meet Silas: a trans boy with autism who has been struggling through speaker society. His parents have been trying to get him to be the perfect obedient child, and inform him that he will be married off soon. When his plan to get away from the speaker society and impending marriage goes wrong, he gets sent to Braxton and all it's horrors.

The story is incredibly fast paced, I could not put it down. Every single character was fleshed out and served a purpose in the story, even when they were never actually seen by the main character. The book is brutal and doesn't shy away from anything, so please check up on the content warnings before deciding to read this.

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