This novel is the heartwarming story of a mother-daughter bond unlike any other…
Just kidding. I originally requested this book because of the blurb in the PW announcement which compared it to THE BAD SEED:
While I’m a bit of wimp when it comes to horror and thriller as a genre, “bad children” stories have always been a bit of an interest. The original BAD SEED showed a young girl who terrorized classmates, killing one with a pair of tap shoes, all the while cuddling up to Daddy during bedtime stories. Only the mother suspected her bad behavior, which eventually drove her mad. BABY TEETH lives up to the comparison, but luckily takes its own path at this kind of story.
Stage’s debut follows Suzette, mother to seven year old Hanna, as she struggles with the increasingly more disturbing behavior. Hanna shows one face to her mother and one to her father, and her choice to not speak makes education and home life very difficult– meaning that Suzette is homeschooling Hanna as the novel opens and experiencing some troubling moments as her daughter not only begins to talk to her, but also talks about being possessed by a 17th century French witch.
I won’t spoil anything here, but Stage builds the suspense well in this book, stacking complications on top of each other like Jenga blocks. I stayed up late more than one evening trying to get through a difficult section. You can almost feel the unsteady sanity of the household start to topple. One really interesting aspect of this book is the physical health of Suzette, whose history with Crohn’s is a major component of her character (as well as making up some of background with her own mother.)
The alternating perspectives of Hanna and Suzette can be jarring, but they are necessary. I found myself actually cringing while reading some of Hanna’s sections, but Stage doesn’t let the reader look away and keeps the voices separate enough to suspend disbelief.
If you’re looking for a creepy read, make sure you add it to your to-read stack.
Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage, St. Martin’s Press out July 17, 2018