Book Title: Baby Teeth
Author: Zoje Stage
REVIEWED BY: DENNIS
Genres: Thriller, Mystery
Pub Date: 07/17/18
Sweetness can be deceptive.
She’s the sweet-but-silent angel in the adoring eyes of her Daddy. He’s the only person who understands her, and all Hanna wants is to live happily ever after with him. But Mommy stands in her way, and she’ll try any trick she can think of to get rid of her. Ideally for good.
She loves her daughter, really, but after years of expulsions and strained home schooling, her precarious health and sanity are weakening day by day. As Hanna’s tricks become increasingly sophisticated, and Suzette’s husband remains blind to the failing family dynamics, Suzette starts to fear that there’s something seriously wrong, and that maybe home isn’t the best place for their baby girl after all.
Wow, how do I begin to review Baby Teeth?! I really don’t even know where to begin. The story centers around the Jensen (pronounced Yensen), a family of artists living in the Shadyside neighborhood of Pittsburgh. The hip Jensen family consists of architect Alex, former interior designer and now stay-at-home mother Suzette, and their 7 year old daughter Hanna. This nuclear family is not the American dream you may suspect when first meeting them. Hanna, although a lovingly sweet child, is mute and only shows her dynamic and loving personality with her father. Hanna is constantly battling with her mother while Alex is at work, leaving Hanna frustrated and vengeful towards her. While Alex is away, Hanna expresses a sincere hatred for her mother and will stop at nothing to prevent her from ruining the perfect life she sees with her father. Mommy is in the way and Hanna will stop at nothing to destroy her.
Well first things first ladies and gentlemen, Baby Teeth has successfully scared me away from pursuing parenthood for the time being. #ByeFelicia Like for real though, I’m scared of them now. Do I need to get garlic and silver crosses to protect myself now or what?! Seriously though, Baby Teeth is one dark, sinister, and deviously gripping story that not only focuses on family dynamics, but the ignorance being society’s perception of mental illness. More and more books are starting to showcase mental illness and that’s very important—especially in the family setting. This book will not be for everyone (I stalked the reviews section prior to reading this and everyone’s reviews are all over the place) so I would go into this story with a clear mind. Some people are loving this story, some people are hating this story, but everyone will be talking about this story. I’ve seen people compare Baby Teeth to The Omen, but one reason why I will try to not compare the two is that this story does not contain a supernatural plot. This story highlights the family dynamic in such a contemporary, realistic way, that by comparing this to the typical horror genre just doesn’t feel right. Baby Teeth is a story in it’s own lane and should be treated as such.
I really enjoyed Zoje Stage’s ability to show contrast between the points-of-view of Suzette and Hanna because they are vastly different, yet utterly relatable. Suzette’s POV definitely is one of a loving, yet strong-willed mother who wants the best for her family, yet also wants to protect herself. Stage’s ability to showcase a very intelligent, yet sickeningly wicked 7 year old’s perspective is expertly highlighted here. The story is realistic—yet, scary as F! A solid debut novel and an original story derived from a common theme in the thriller/horror genre, Baby Teeth delivers. I’m excited to see what’s next for Ms. Zoje Stage.
Thank you St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for my advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.