What Big Teeth

By Rose Szabo

What Big Teeth, a novel by Rose Szabo
Book details

I do enjoy a good gothic novel. A tale about a once impressive house that has fallen into ruin, its location remote, its inhabitants an enigma. The tales are often full of thrills, romance and even a little horror. But what do you do about a gothic house full of horrific creatures? A story that tells the tale of the monsters and not the damsel that arrived at the house and finds themselves in distress. What Big Teeth by Rose Szabo is about the Zarrin family who are as dysfunctional as any other. The book’s mystery is not that they are werewolves, but why they are in this remote Maine town and what other secrets they are hiding. 

Eleanor is on the run from her boarding school and has returned to her family estate. She has been gone for so long that she has forgotten a lot of the family dynamic and when this includes the habits of werewolves, that can be an issue. Her Grandpa can barely contain his hunger, her sister has sharp teeth that are always on show, her cousin is spoilt and violent, but the most dangerous member of the family is Grandma Persephone, the matriarch of the home and keeper of secrets. Eleanor will find herself at the very heart of events that will see the family survive or destroyed. 

There are no set rules that dictate a genre novel must stay in one lane and Szabo is an author who believes this as Teeth is a book that is part gothic tale, but also a family saga, horror, and mystery. It does a lot more than just follow a family who live in a remote house on the hill. The very fact that the family are werewolves is a twist. The reader discovers this almost instantly and it is not the big reveal that other gothic novels may have sat on until the end. Instead, there is a lot more going on that makes the book a true mystery. 

Early on you realise that not all the family members are the same. The mixed blood means that the type of werewolf they are can differ. Some are traditional shapeshifters, while other remain stuck in one form. Eleanor appears to have no powers at all, but it soon becomes apparent that she was sent away for a reason. Somehow Eleanor has forgotten a lot of her past and we discover the truth as she does. Szabo does a fantastic job of playing out the mystery and small parts are revealed throughout. 

The key to the book’s twists is that is not just about werewolves. There are other powers at play. Grandma Persephone never seemed to be a werewolf, yet she was able to head the family. We also meet Grandmere, a woman with even more formidable assets. The dysfunction within the family comes from their powers playing off one another and a sense of mistrust among some. What will prove stronger, the family bond or a lust for power? 

There are many interesting ideas hidden within Teeth, but to reveal them would be to ruin the various twists and turns. Just to say that this is no ordinary gothic tale. You are as likely to have a screaming woman running into the building, as running away. The multifaceted female characters make this an interesting book about power plays and family dynamics, as much as it about the blood-soaked maws of a werewolf.  

Written on 9th September 2021 by .

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