Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage, 3 Stars

I remember seeing The Omen in theater. Well, the remake anyways. It was probably about 11 years ago on the night before Halloween. Before I had kids of my own. And I remember thinking, OMG, how could a person put up with that? But that was before of course I realized the natural bond a mother and father have with their child. The love that encompasses everything.

Of course in the movie, the child is adopted. Which doesn’t necessarily make it that different from a biological child, the attachment is still the same. But I think in Baby Teeth, Hannah being the full biological child of Alex and Suzette makes it more menacing, because whatever she is, it came from them. They can’t blame anyone else or point fingers. It’s their gene pool.

Another difference is that Damien in The Omen is “evil” and while I also think that exists in Hanna, to me, she was less “evil” and more mentally ill. Maybe that can be interpreted as the same thing at times, based on actions. BUT, I fully believe and hope that mental illness is treatable.

Deep thoughts.

From the Publisher:

Sweetness can be deceptive.

Meet Hanna.

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.

Meet Suzette.

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.

My Review:

The book opens on Alex, Suzette and Hanna. On the outside, they appear to be a model family. They are good-looking, he’s an architect who gutted and renovated their stylish home himself, mother and daughter are fashionable. Kind of a stereotypical “golden” suburban family.

But there is so much lurking underneath the surface.

This was hard for me to get into. I think maybe it’s because I didn’t really identify with any of the characters. That normally isn’t a problem for me. But in this book, there are very few ancillary characters. Without giving away too much, I’ll bottom line it.

Hannah hates her mom, loves her dad–and is willing to do what it takes to get rid of her mom. Suzette is fragile, suffers from a crippling autoimmune disease and will do anything to keep her husband, who she adores, happy. Alex (the husband) is completely in denial that there is anything wrong with his perfect family.

While I did feel bad for Suzette and her predicament, I also felt that she was partially to blame for her circumstances. She’s not great about taking initiative, merely seems to sit back and hope it will get better. I also didn’t understand how Alex could be so in denial. I mean, maybe at first. But by the time the book starts, there have been huge problems for YEARS. Come on!

I thought the writing was good. To me, this was more horror than psychological suspense. But again, it was extremely creepy, but also sad to me as I saw Hanna as a deeply disturbed child with an illness. And I think the story highlights a family’s struggle with trying to appear perfect to the outside world when they are living a nightmare behind closed doors.

I would recommend this to people who are fans of horror, and enjoy the occasional “bad seed” type of tale. It’s definitely creepy!

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and Netgalley for a free e-galley in exchange for my honest review.

Baby Teeth releases July 17, 2018. Pre-order your copy!

Indiebound

 

 

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