A special thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
This debut by Zoje Stage will not be for the faint of heart. Baby Teeth is a deeply disturbing psychological thriller told in alternating point of view between Hanna, a silent and disturbed seven-year-old, and Suzanne, her barely coping mother.
Hanna is conniving and precocious and is beyond her years mentally. She is able to play her parents off one another for her own gain as well as at the torment of her mother. When she is around her daddy, who she wants to marry, she is a sweet and silent angel that is eager to please. In the care of her mother, she is evil and violent, and plays on her mother's fear of her.
Suzette loves her daughter, but is exhausted both mentally and physically, and like her marriage, is breaking down. Hanna is home schooled so Suzette rarely gets time away from her. The little girl is becoming more conniving with each passing day—she has turned their family dynamic upside down by making Suzette look crazy and neurotic. Suzette fears that there is something seriously wrong with her daughter and that Hanna is too much of a threat to her at home.
Stage takes the reader down the rabbit hole that is is Hanna's mind. It is a dark and twisty ride, and as mentioned will not appeal to all readers. If a creepy kid story is your bag, you will love it. If stories about demented children are not your thing, I suggest you pass. I have to be honest, this is not something I would have normally picked up, but was intrigued by the cover and synopsis. After reading, I'm on the fence. The story is well-written and captivating, but there was a lot of suspension of disbelief—for a seven-year-old, Hanna is far too advanced and this was distracting from the actual story.
DNF @ 39%.
I wanted to like this book. Really. It’s getting so much hype and sounded like it could be creepy. It isn’t. I found myself bored and annoyed. None of these characters are likable. The mom is a wilted flower, a crying dishrag; the dad is an oblivious fool; the daughter — she who is supposedly so evil — just does strange things that aren’t particularly scary. Just strange kid things, like talking in a strange voice sometimes. Spooky!
This book is a lot of Hanna, the daughter, doing something bad and Suzette, the Mom, saying “Wait until your father hears about this!” but half the time she never tells her husband, and the other half of the time hubby takes the daughter’s side. It feels repetitive and lame. This isn’t the suspenseful thriller it is made out to be.
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC.
Thanks to Alex from Pen & Sword for providing me with a review paperback copy of this book that I freely chose to review.
If you have been following my reviews for some time, you will be aware that I have read a number of the historical books published by Pen & Sword. I tend to be more interested in social history and how historical changes affected the lives of those who don’t always figure in the big History treatises. Being a lover of plays and a kin theatregoer, I was very curious about this book. Yes, theatre gossip was intriguing, but getting a sense of what life on the Victorian stage must have been like was my main interest. Although sometimes we discover that life has changed dramatically in a reasonably short period of times, some things do not seem to change much. And human curiosity and the love of gossip are among those things. If Victorians had no access to social media, there were plenty of newspapers and periodicals to keep them entertained, and actors were as much a subject of interest then as they are now.
The author does not follow a narrative or chooses a few big cases in this book, but rather illustrates the sheer amount of theatrical news that occupied the Victorian press of the time, not only in London but also in the provinces. As communications improved, newspapers even started featuring stories about actors in America (either natives or British authors touring there) and although sometimes the features lacked in detail (in some cases a suicide or a death would not feature the name of those involved) they were always after items that would attract the public’s attention. Darby divides the book into three parts: Part 1 deals with the business side of things (including such matters as licenses, libel, bankruptcy, breach of contract…), Part 2 looks at criminal lives (from blackmail and assault to prostitution and murder), and Part 3 delves into the personal lives of the actors (what we would probably consider gossip proper, although not all of it is gossip. The chapter on death and disaster deals with serious matter and also makes us look at security measures and disasters in theatres, bigamy seems to have been much more common than it is today, and personally I was fascinated by the chapter on breaches of promise, as I had not realise that there were laws that offered more protection to women in those circumstances than I would have expected). Each chapter shares both, examples of standard cases of what would usually find its way into the newspapers (brief pieces with hardly any detail) and it dedicates more space to others that were better known, but no single case gets all the limelight. In many ways, this book is like a sampler, where people interested in the subject can learn more and be pointed in the right direction to research further.
The author’s style of writing is direct, and mostly allows the sources to do the talking. She provides sufficient background (on legal matters, the nature of performances, technical issues…) for readers to appreciate the items she discusses, and also some reflections on her own take on the materials. She notes how some periodicals, like The Era, were in a double-bind of sorts, as they tried hard to defend the profession of acting on the stage (that had a pretty bad reputation, especially in the case of women), insisting that actors were honourable and true professionals, whilst at the same time featured “sensational” news to attract readers. Although these days respectability is not a concept many people are worried about, it is true that the press has a hard time trying to reconcile the ideal of protectors of the truth, whilst fighting to keep the attention of the public by any means necessary. Is it possible to keep the moral high ground whilst publishing gossip and innuendo?
Although this is not, perhaps, a book for the general reading public, as I read I kept thinking about how useful this book would be to writers of historical fiction interested in the period (and not only for those considering using a theatrical background in their story but also for those thinking about the press of the time and even society at large) and to historians. Darby provides end notes full of details, both of the sources of her research and also of further information available. Although she mostly uses newspapers, she digs on the archives to confirm details such as names (as many actors and actresses used stage names and some of those were fairly popular) and discovers that Mark Twain wasn’t the only one whose death had been grossly exaggerated (deaths, marriages… were often misreported). The paperback also contains pictures that allow us to put faces to some of the names and help transport us to the era.
In sum, this is a book that will greatly assist writers, historians, and people passionate about the Victorian era and the history of the stage in the UK. It is a good starting point for those who want a general view of the topic and/or are looking for inspiration for their next story or research project. And if you just want to confirm that people’s love for gossip about the stars has not changed over the years, this is your book.
Emilie is finishing her shift at a fast food restaurant. Emilie is giving her two week notice as she is returning to her true passion the stage to act at the Oregon Shakespeare festival. Emilie had been a promising actress but had given up her career to follow her then girlfriend to Europe . But they didn't end up working out. Emilie had more scars than happy memories from her ex girlfriend. Now Emilie is getting a second chance at acting and she is very excited. Arden was a gardener/ groundskeeper/artist who works in the nearby- to where the festival is being held- Lithia Park. Arden has a history of dating actresses but only ends up being heartbroken. Emilie has already signed a contract for the Shakespeare festival. EWnilie is determined to concentrate in her acting no romance. Arden had followed her grandfather around Lithia Park and watched the work he did. But her grandfather had passed away now. Then Arden went to school and got a degree in Arden was used to people leaving her. Arden’s parents had left her with her grandparents to pursue their own careers when Arden was about four. Arden stumbles across Emilie for the time when Emilie is in the park practicing one of her roles. Emilie and Arden are immediately attracted to each other but Emilie says they can only be friends.
I liked this book for the most part just not into reading about lesbians and their romantic relationships. I did feel this was well written. I also like how the setting was portrayed. This book lacked passion but considering about a lesbian couple that was okay with me, I also liked the double POVS. I did like the romance was slow burning. But I did think there was too much repetition about Arden’s and Emilie’s issues.
I liked this book for the most part. I liked there wasn’t a lot of sex involved. I don’t judge women together I just don’t want to read about it. I did like how Arden and Emilie supported each other. I loved the ins and outs of this story and I recommend it.