The Spirit Bares Its Teeth is a horrific, brilliantly crafted terror. I am not typically a horror person, yet this novel had me hooked, on the edge of my seat, with perpetual goosebumps, until the very end. With this narrative on medical mistreatment of women, trans, and autistic individuals, Andrew Joseph White continues to be the king of queer horror.
I had to take a month to sit on how I felt about this one. I finished it in one day, It truly kept me up at night. A haunting tale on being trans, neurodivergent and female hysteria. The body horror in this book had me in a chokehold. It was so well written and detailed that like i gagged a few times. I did read and listen along with the audiobook and honestly I LOVED the audiobook, the narrator was phenomenal. I will be thinking about this story for years and years.
This book is amazing!!!!
Silas Bell, a trans man in the 1880s London, navigates a life where societal expectations force him to conceal his true identity. Labeled as a coveted wife due to his violet eyes marking his rare ability to connect with the spirit world. Silas's plans to escape to a life where he can live on his own as the man he is, are foiled. He is diagnosed with "Veil Sickness" and sent to the dreaded Braxton's Sanitorium. The horrors he encounters there far surpass his darkest imaginings. With a mystery to unravel and his very essence at stake, Silas embarks on a harrowing journey with a mystery to solve while trying to survive.
This book is not for everyone. It is gory and disturbing. This is an author I always suggest checking triggers for! This book has but is not limited to
- Sexual assault
- Gore; medical gore; explicit mentions of performing a cesarean section and removing the uterus
ANDREW HAS DONE IT AGAIN. THIS MAN CANNOT BE STOPPED.
This book was everything, it had a beautiful way of dealing with trans characters who can't be out. It kept me gripped until the very end, constantly thinking about it whenever I wasn't reading it. I loved this book so much, perfect to finish it right before HalloweenANDREW HAS DONE IT AGAIN. THIS MAN CANNOT BE STOPPED.
This book was everything, it had a beautiful way of dealing with trans characters who can't be out. It kept me gripped until the very end, constantly thinking about it whenever I wasn't reading it. I loved this book so much.
Uhg this was IMMACULATE. My favorite bit was the personification of intrusive thoughts - that’s brilliant. This was also one of the best representations of autism i’ve read in a book. I just…I loved this book and I’m so happy it exists.
rep: lesbian side character, autistic trans boy MC, trans girl Love Interest
tw: sexual assault, institutionalization, murder, torture, grooming, self-given abortion
Andrew Joseph White does it again!
Hell Followed With Us was one of my top books of 2022, and I had high hopes for The Spirit Bares It’s Teeth, which is why I requested the ARC of this book. I was not disappointed.
AJW had a way of writing that makes me feel like, viscerally and violently ill, and deeply unsettled, and yet I can’t look away or put his books down. The writing is addictive; quick and panicky and frantic one second, luxurious and descriptive in the next, evoking a rich depth of emotion and connection to characters.
The amount of violence and gore in this novel is extreme, to say the least, but AJW knows how to use it. It never feels shocking for the sake of it, but truly drives home the point over and over. You’re meant to be uncomfortable— you SHOULD be uncomfortable about what's happening to the students at Braxton’s, and you don’t get to look away from the true, sheer horror of it.
I think queer & trans horror has something special to offer as a genre; for folks who have been subjected to all kinds of horrors, supernatural or not, there is something truly powerful in the reclamation of fear and danger. Of being the “monster” everyone thinks you are, and also being the hero of the story, because the real monster are the institutions and people that seek to break you.
As a non-autistic reader I also appreciate the work of an #OwnVoices autistic author putting the focus on Sila’s autism in this story, and the way he navigated the interplay of being autistic and being transgender, without having the terminology for either experience.
If you have the stomach for it, I highly highly recommend this book.
Andrew Joseph White is an excellent source of gory coming-of-age stories, with interesting characters and fantastical plots. Didn't love this one as much as the first, but definitely worth adding to collections for queer teens.
I loved this book a lot! I am starting to realize that I love how AJW writes trans rage and body horror. It is so compelling and never feels over the top. He beautifully weaves trans stories into horror that works so well with a lot of trans experiences in the real world. I want to now read everything he puts out!
I appreciated the gothic hororr in this mixed with medical horror, and the social horror of how women are treated. I also appreciated the neurodiverse representation in this.
This book was nothing that I expected it to be and it was amazing. I expected the book to be gross, but have like the surgical aspects of gross was very captivating, and our main character of Silas was beautiful and I just love him. I really enjoy how this author creates these worlds, and where people can present their feelings. The way that this author presents the dysphoria is quite captivating. I really enjoyed the Gothic feel of this book. I highly recommend that people read this book and continue to read things by this author, because they are just extremely captivating and bring light to trans identification.
AJ White does it again...I read HFWU all the way back and gave a glowing review I don't know if I can top, except now I do have to top it because TSBIT is a force of nature. Not only is it an excellent blend between horror and queerness, it is the blueprint of the horrific exploration of queer trauma. Despite being YA, it was grisly and graphic, albeit in a way I greatly appreciated. You pick up a horror book for the awful bits, and you get it all with TSBIT - dark, twisted emotions, the demented reality of homophobia in the era setting for TSBIT, and the physical, deliciously medically accurate gore. One might question if this should be for young adults, but I personally believe AJ White describes gore as an art. It is excessive to serve a greater point, and rarely is it meaningless, senseless gore. It is careful, precise and often symbolic, a masterpiece of literary meaning tied to horrific reality.
I couldn't recommend this book more. HFWU is for fantasy, dystopian fans, but TSBIT is for pure horror fans, and the loud, riotous triumph HFWU gives a reader is swapped for something more precise, exact, but still quietly triumphant in TSBIT. As much as i enjoyed HFWU, I had to admit there were parts where both plot and setting were messy, but AJ White's craft is sharpened in TSBIT, leading to an efficient plot and a damn near perfect story. Blessed to have read this.
God I don't know if I have enough words to describe how I feel about this book, but I'm going to try. This book is beautiful and heartbreaking and bloody in its depiction of Silas's story. Thanks to the content warnings, I knew what I was getting into! Despite its graphic description, it felt like that inclusion was integral to understand how Silas views and understands the world. In fact, the way in which AJW portrays Silas aids the ways in which I understand the meat and bones of it all.
I started this book with the intention of taking my time reading it. What actually happened was that I was so engrossed in it that I read it anytime I had a spare moment, and then finished it the same day. That’s how much I loved it.
I love these characters. I love the language. I love the feeling this book leaves you with. Horror at what happened but also comfort and quite a bit of hope for Silas.
Thank you Netgalley for the ARC! I’m going to buy a copy for myself.
I loved Hell Followed With Us and this lived up to my expectations. I love a gothic ghost story, and Andrew Joseph White did a beautiful job of working within that genre. My main complaint about YA is the tendency towards instant love and this book was unfortunately not immune. Silas and Daphne were very sweet but I like a bit more time to progress. Overall a gratifying read and I look forward to the next!
Andrew Joseph White has done it again. The Spirit Bares its Teeth is as visceral as it is heartbreaking and I couldn’t have loved it more. This is, easily, one of the most difficult books I’ve read this year (maybe ever?), but it’s fantastic. This further solidifies AJW as a must-read author for me.
White’s writing is…astounding. The emotion and pure terror that he weaves into every moment is masterful. This book depicts the most depraved aspects of humanity and just how sinister people can be…and yet, it also shows the slivers of life that can peak through. It’s excellently crafted and vivid.
Medical horror is exceptionally powerful for me and this was no different. Heed the trigger warnings because there’s a lot of them. There’s extensive medical gore and experimentation, that fits the era, eye and body horror, on-page abortion, and much more. I think this is an important book, but it’s not for everyone.
I adored this and I cannot wait for more from AJW. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an advanced copy.
White is a master at horror and Spirit was everything and then some. A perfect blend of macabre with plot but this time in a historical setting really sucked me in as I'm a big fan of all of the above. The pacing was perfect as the story moved along without a dull moment and I was completely hooked page after page. An excellent read overall that brings new breathe in to the YA Horror genre!
This book was incredible. Going into this knowing it was a horror and there was gore, I was nervous-- BUT this book was written so well. Yes, there was medical horror and graphic descriptions but nothing felt gratuitous or unnecessary. I loved our main character's POV, and I thought the world was really interesting.
I loved all of the characters, but especially Silas and Daphne. They all felt really fleshed out, and I especially loved reading the POV of Silas and his journey throughout this book.
The pacing was great, it felt really suspenseful and I constant underlying feeling of dread while reading this book. At times, I thought I knew where the story was going and then it would surprise me.
I'd definitely read more by Andrew Joseph White, and based on this book I trust the way he writes horror (if that makes sense).
Thank you to Netgalley and Peachtree Teen for this ARC!
CW: (taken from the author's site) graphic violence, sexual assault (implied, attempted, and on-page), medical gore (including an on page cesarean section), transphobia (explicit misgendering, dead-naming, transphobic violence/conversion therapy), anti-autistic ableism, medical/psychiatric abuse (including dubious diagnosis and treatment), gaslighting, abuse, minor discussions of miscarriage
I absolutely devoured Andrew Joseph White’s debut Hell Followed With Us, so I went into this with sky high expectations and he knocked it out of the park. Based off these two books, I can confidently say I will read everything he writes.
The Spirit Bares Its Teeth is a historical horror fantasy full of autistic trans rage. Silas tries to escape an arranged marriage and is diagnosed with Veil sickness and sent to a sanatorium to be “cured” only to have the ghosts of missing students start haunting him.
I adored Silas. He is autistic and anxious and the people around him see those as faults and use it as examples of how he isn’t trying hard enough or he isn’t good enough, and when he finds any sort of acceptance he latches on to it while also worrying about it’s authenticity. I don’t want to say much more about the story because it is truly best experienced, but I loved everything about this book.
Another amazing book by Andrew Joseph White. I'll just never get over White's ability to write the most gruesome lines and take the grossest words and turn them into the most hauntingly beautiful sentences. I actually liked this even more than Hell Followed With Us, which I initially LOVED. I thought the story was even better here and things like pacing and setting up the scene that I felt were sometimes confusing in HFWU, had shown significant growth in this one. I gave that book a 4.5 and am giving this one 5 big stars. Andrew Joseph White is officially an auto-buy author for me!
After not being a fan of Hell Followed With Us, I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I loved this one! The Spirit Bares Its Teeth is full of horrors--medical gore, convening with the dead, and most of all, the violences of patriarchy. My main problem with Hell Followed With Us is I felt that it dragged a lot, and I loved how plot-forward this one was while maintaining great character work. The mystery here was so propelling, I didn't want to stop reading! It completely knocked me out of my reading slump and had me thinking about the book between reading sessions, wondering what would happen next.
Though I won't spoil anything that goes down here, I'll say that there are a lot of great characters and relationships that made this book keep an air of hopefulness, and our main character, Silas, continues to have hope and fight for his future despite his circumstances. In terms of the setting, I also really loved the historical setting coupled with the magic system. I think White's craft has certainly improved when it's come to constructing magical worlds and I loved the way this one mirrored our own history while adding a twist.
Most of all, I loved Silas and the many discussions taking place in this novel--the intricacies of patriarchy and gender, the relationship between transness and neurodivergency, the discussions around the autism spectrum and masking, and the privilege and trauma around doing so...there was so much seamlessly packed into the novel, especially for a historical horror novel. I loved it so much and will be recommending it to everyone because I want others to discuss it with!
In a lot of ways, The Spirit Bares Its Teeth felt much stronger than White's debut (which is in itself a showstopper) - for me, it filled a lot of the gaps I felt were missing from Hell Followed With Us. The historical setting and its gothic trappings really heightened White's writing style and the subject matter - the rage here is palpable.
My heart was in my throat for a lot of this book, particularly the last quarter - I read through dinner and gave myself indigestion, but it was completely worth it. The Spirit Bares Its Teeth is such a dark book, and yet remains quietly (and at times, joyfully) hopeful - I got a real sense of vindication from the conclusion.
I eagerly anticipate whatever White writes next, but I also know it won't always be an easy read!
4.5 rounded up to 5