What Big Teeth by Rose Szabo
Read before: No
Ownership: Review copy from the publisher and preordered
Content warnings: There’s a lot of types of violence, manipulation, gaslighting and abuse, alongside disturbing scenery, basically this is a horror book and it should be read with that in mind, it is not a cute story.
I have seen this compared a lot to the Addams family and as much as it is about a family of monsters and misfits and the value of family, that is as far as it goes in the similarities. For the most part, Eleanor is unsure of her place in the family, and she is not even sure if it was worth coming back or if they are welcoming her, afraid of her or just don’t care at all. This means that the book is mostly very dark humour set into horror and creepy mode.
Because Eleanor is trying to piece together why her family is reacting to her the way they are, and why they first sent her away, there is also a lot of internal retrospection and the book at times can seem quite intense in how Eleanor feels, but that is part of the charm of it since we’re very much into her head and trying desperately to discover the truth against time and against forces trying to get rid of the family from outside and inside.
What Big Teeth relies a lot on atmosphere, a narrator that is trying to piece her life together and many elements of what sometimes can make you love your family but at the same time make it toxic and therefore it deals with very intense topics even if you take away the fantastical and horror part of it. It is the strength and probably weakness of the book, as it means it won’t be for everyone due to the particular way it depicts things and how it portrays the not so good parts quite heavily.
It is not that there is no love in the family, it is more a case of many secrets crashing against each other, some due to selfishness and some done in what a family member may have thought was a way to save the family or to protect them, and it shows that love sometimes is hard to show and it gets tangled with a lot of things when you live with your family for most of the time and it is the only thing you know.