What Big Teeth
Author: Rose Szabo
Rated R for the dark rage infused with riddles.
My grandfather’s face was the one I remembered most vividly from childhood.
But I didn’t feel the way I used to when I looked at him.
I was afraid.
Being a Zarrin isn’t easy, not for Eleanor. For years, years she’s been estranged to them, but after an incident at her boarding school, she comes home. Fitting in with her family feels impossible. Her relatives go off and prowl in the woods, howling at the moon, and acting on their deepest desires, though they are deadly.
Eleanor never felt as if she fit in with them and that feeling continues to grow. Still, she’s trying to hold her family together after a terrible loss that threatens to rip them apart. She determined to find her place amongst them again. Embracing her family and accepting them for the monstrosities they are proving difficult, especially since she has a darkness in herself to tame.
From its haunting cover to the story itself, I was mesmerized. Still, as I read, I felt myself getting desperate and then agitated as no answers came to light about what was going on in the Zarrin house and why. This was more of a giant, vague riddle than anything else. I kept growing more and more frustrated and was losing interest in the book. I can appreciate the chapter being incredibly long. I always appreciate long chapters. Much like I fall in love with short chapters that always leave you desperate for more.
The way the Zarrin family embraced their monstrous ways and each other was fecking beautiful. It’s incredibly encouraging for readers to embrace themselves and for others to embrace them. That had to be one of my favorite takeaways. And the way that the family was able to rally behind one another, lifting each other up, was remarkable. I couldn’t stray away from the show of a person’s duality through the Zarrin’s either. From Grandpa Miklos and Luma shifting back and forth with their wolf forms to Eleanor with her siren-like abilities. Even Arthur, a pinnacle of desire within the Zarrin family gives way to duality. It’s incredibly impressive.
The plot of the book only got a little lost on me. Just a tad. I understood the loss and trying to keep the family together but from there it ran all over the place. It reminded me of the way paint bleeds if unguarded. The writing is outstanding and chillingly dreamy, but that wasn’t enough for me. I wasn’t sure what direction it was going in. Though none of the characters seemed to connect, the story still had quite a bit going for it. I just struggled to keep interested.
The gothic imagery is very Tim Burton. It was so powerful that I felt like I was there, in the house and on the cliffsides. Though rather bleak, it was beautiful.
This was good but it wasn’t great. Not every book needs to have a happy ending, but this one from top to bottom felt blah and bland, like the color grey. There were sparks here and there, but not enough to keep intently invested.
“People are so amused by cruelty. I’ve never been able to understand it.” (Arthur, p. 54)
“I don’t tell him that that’s how it always begins: in selfishness, in ambition, in lust or depression. That love starts out as something you want to bite into and ends as something that swallows you up.” (p. 340)
“It is madness to love someone: there is no greater feeling of estrangement than the ways in which they are different from you,” (p. 353)
“My love is a haunted house, a ghost possessing his own body, a fire that burns itself alive. A light almost too bright to look at, but I forced myself to look as long as I could.” (p. 384)
More to come soon…
Song Today? Haunting by Halsey.
Thoughts? Let’s chat in the comments below!