Mini Review Monday #46

I’m sharing another instalment of my Mini Review Mondays, the most recent of which was last week. In case you haven’t seen any of my previous posts, I do ‘mini’ reviews of books that I’ve previously read and am now ready to share my full thoughts about.

First up, I’d like to talk about What Big Teeth by Rose Szabo. Thank you so much to Titan for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Eleanor has not seen or spoken with her family in years, not since they sent her away to Saint Brigid’s boarding school. She knows them only as vague memories: her grandfather’s tremendous fanged snout, the barrel full of water her mother always soaked in, and strange hunting trips in a dark wood with her sister and cousins. When Eleanor finally returns to their ancestral home on the rainy coast of Maine, she finds them already gathered in wait, seemingly ready to welcome her back with open arms. But a strange and sudden death rocks the family, and in order to keep the family that abandoned her from falling apart, Eleanor calls upon her mysterious other grandmother from across the sea. Grandmere brings order to the chaotic household, but that order soon turns to tyranny. If any of them are to survive, Eleanor must embrace her strange family and confront the monstrousness lurking deep within her Grandmere – and herself.

Publication Date: 6th July

TW: death, murder, child death, body horror, bullying, gore, emotional abuse

Goodreads | Waterstones

My Thoughts:

What Big Teeth is the type of book that defies expectations and categorisations. It is the whisper in the dark, the chill in your bones and the feeling of something lurking over your shoulder. 

This is a book that is woven together by its thick atmosphere and labyrinthine tale built upon layers and layers of secrets and complex family relationships. It’s so deeply Gothic and richly drawn that I just wanted to sink my teeth into it and devour every last drop. Szabo’s writing has this bold, grandiose style with more than a touch of the bizarre to it. It just feels decadent in the word choice and layering of metaphors. What Big Teeth is a twisted blend of historical magical realism and horror that leaves an imprint on your mind and a chill in the air around you. 

The plot is compulsive reading, as you want to peel back each layer of this family and its entanglement with darker forces. It’s dark and twisted and gory in all the best ways. Szabo delicately walks that line between fantasy and reality perfectly, messing with your head. This is a family of wolves and teeth, monsters in far more ways than one. You end up with this odd concoction of fairy-tales, myths and horror that I just cannot get out of my head. It’s both so fiercely and vulnerably human as it is monstrous and dark. 

Eleanor is a fascinating and ambiguous protagonist to follow along. As an outsider amongst a family of outcasts, she feels alienated and distraught. This makes her headspace a difficult one to inhabit, as she has fortresses up. Her narrative is also not entirely reliable, with certain events manipulated and presented to the reader in various ways throughout the novel. This leaves much of the story open to interpretation and there are several thematic ideas presented that I found myself falling down the rabbit hole of. 

This is a twisted story of family, revenge and magic that makes for an irresistible concoction for any reader. Szabo has created a fairy-tale fit for a modern audience, with all the original darkness and gore of the myths of old.

Next up, I’d like to talk about The Dead and the Dark by Courtney Gould. Thank you so much to Natalie Figueroa at St Martin’s Press for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Something is wrong in Snakebite, Oregon. Teenagers are disappearing, some turning up dead, the weather isn’t normal, and all fingers seem to point to TV’s most popular ghost hunters who have just returned to town. Logan Ortiz-Woodley, daughter of TV’s ParaSpectors, has never been to Snakebite before, but the moment she and her dads arrive, she starts to get the feeling that there’s more secrets buried here than they originally let on.

Ashley Barton’s boyfriend was the first teen to go missing, and she’s felt his presence ever since. But now that the Ortiz-Woodleys are in town, his ghost is following her and the only person Ashley can trust is the mysterious Logan. When Ashley and Logan team up to figure out who—or what—is haunting Snakebite, their investigation reveals truths about the town, their families, and themselves that neither of them are ready for. As the danger intensifies, they realize that their growing feelings for each other could be a light in the darkness.

Publication Date: 3rd August

TW: homophobia (verbal, non-physical), child death, murder, claustrophobia (buried alive), drowning, slurs


My Thoughts:

The Dead and the Dark is the type of book that resembles smoke in that it is hard to pin down definitely and lingers with you long after you shut the covers. Gould has a distinctive and extremely compelling voice, filled with promise and a tinge of malevolence that I am eager to hear more of. 

This has such a strong opening, as we hear from the Dark itself. It is this dark, unsettling and unbridled entity, built of passion and reckless abandon. For me, it showed that craven desire for violence that lingered just below the surface of its host. It was almost like this malevolent force just allowed the darkest desires of this person, allowing them to excuse their own actions and justify them. From then on, the narrative of the Dark was this twisted and fascinating interlude to Logan and Ashley’s story. It is this manifestation of grief, trauma and the deeply buried past. Gould’s inclusion of its perspective was such an interesting move and really helped fully immerse me in the story. Beyond the Dark, the opening perfectly sets the scene with murder and death straight away. The tension is so thick and the suspense creeps in like a fog, slowly engulfing you in this twisty, horror-tinged thriller. 

From there, we are introduced to Logan and Ashley, both of whom I fell in love with straight away. These are two complex and brilliant teenagers, shouldering their own secrets and fractured family relationships. They’re trying to navigate themselves but within the confines of Snakebite. This is your classic small town, claustrophobic and built on a legacy of secrets. It’s a shadowy place, cloaked by lies and hatred. All this culminates in an extremely hostile atmosphere, with the collective people of Snakebite forming this mob mentality against our protagonists. This helps rampant up the tension, which perfectly compliments the mystery. Gould has crafted a really good mystery, packed full of shocking twists and turns. I genuinely couldn’t pull myself away from the pages. 

The Dead and the Dark is an enthralling sapphic horror and thriller that delves into a nuanced and fascinating exploration of trauma, hatred and the emotions we bury just under the surface.

Finally, I’d like to delve into The Perfect Place to Die by Bryce Moore. Thank you to Sourcebooks Fire for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Zuretta never thought she’d encounter a monster—one of the world’s most notorious serial killers. She had resigned herself to a quiet life in Utah. But when her younger sister, Ruby, travels to Chicago during the World’s Fair, and disappears, Zuretta leaves home to find her.

But 1890s Chicago is more dangerous and chaotic than she imagined. She doesn’t know where to start until she learns of her sister’s last place of employment…a mysterious hotel known as The Castle.

Zuretta takes a job there hoping to learn more. And before long she realizes the hotel isn’t what it seems. Women disappear at an alarming rate, she hears crying from the walls, and terrifying whispers follow her at night. In the end, she finds herself up against one of the most infamous mass murderers in American history—and his custom-built death trap.

Publication Date: 3rd August

TW: emotional abuse, murder, physical abuse, gaslighting, abusive parents, death

Goodreads | Waterstones

My Thoughts:

The Perfect Place to Die shows a familiar case through a new lens and in doing so, creates a blood-soaked tale of family and the pursuit of justice. Moore’s writing is incredibly gripping and Zuretta makes for the type of heroine you root for until the very end. 

This book opens with one hell of a bang. There’s instantly the promise of menace and mass murder. This sets the scene for a bloody tale of death and destruction. The opening notes from the killer’s confession that start the majority of the chapters of the book are genuinely unnerving and creepy. It’s made even worse by the author’s note explaining that these are exact quotations from the real life case. You get sucked into the mindset of this monster, casting a chilling atmosphere over the text. 

As someone fairly familiar with certain infamous serial killer cases in Chicago, the killer was clear from the start. I actually loved the level of historical detail used in Moore’s story, with research being clearly evident in the level of detail and inclusion of precise elements of the case. From the synopsis, I wasn’t expecting this to be presented like any other mystery, but I really liked the way Moore pulled it off. This is a fast-paced plot that you could easily binge in one sitting. The twists and turns are amazing and have such a emotional intensity to them. With the thick atmosphere of suspense and terror, you have the recipe for a tantalizing and compelling story. 

Zuretta is a great protagonist. Her relentless search for the truth shows her integrity and deep-seated loyalty to her sister, which underpins her every action. She is searching in a world that does not believe her and furthermore just does not care about these missing girls. Moore shows how she is constantly belittled and cast aside because of her gender and her background. The detectives she admires so much only let her down, leaving her to take matters into her own hands. I also really enjoyed the inclusion of a supernatural element to her narration, with this grisly premonitions and dreams haunting her. 

The Perfect Place to Die combines chilling real life horror with the personal tragedy of one girl fighting for justice in a world that refuses to acknowledge her.

4 thoughts on “Mini Review Monday #46

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