Friday, January 29, 2021

Feature Friday ARC Review : What Big Teeth by Rose Szabo


*Feature Friday ARC Review is a meme hosted by The Tattered Page to review YA books not yet released.

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Release Date: February 2, 2021
Pages: 400
Source: Netgalley ARC

Rose Szabo's thrilling debut is a dark fantasy novel about a teen girl who returns home to her strange, wild family after years of estrangement, perfect for fans of Wilder Girls.

Eleanor Zarrin has been estranged from her wild family for years. When she flees boarding school after a horrifying incident, she goes to the only place she thinks is safe: the home she left behind. But when she gets there, she struggles to fit in with her monstrous relatives, who prowl the woods around the family estate and read fortunes in the guts of birds.

Eleanor finds herself desperately trying to hold the family together―in order to save them all, Eleanor must learn to embrace her family of monsters and tame the darkness inside her.

Exquisitely terrifying, beautiful, and strange, this fierce gothic fantasy will sink its teeth into you and never let go. 
BUY LINKS:  The Lit. Bar  |  Amazon




I opened my eyes, and I was on the train.


I was fortunate enough to be gifted an ARC of WHAT BIG TEETH on Netgalley -- thank you Farrar, Straus and Giroux! I was looking forward to the read -- I didn't read the premise because I didn't want to be spoiled but I loved the cover and the title so I was intrigued.

WHAT BIG TEETH is in one word: Confusing. Three words: Confusing. As. Hell. It’s creepy, atmospheric, and weird -- all things that I like. But you cannot have all of those aspects and then be confusing. There's a fine line between mysterious and confusing. And this book is outright confusing. Most of the time I felt as if I didn't know what the hell was going on and by the time I was only like 20%, I was ready to give up because it was just too weird and confusing. 

In the back of my mind, I was always asking myself: what the heck am I reading? We've got this teenage girl, Eleanor Zarrin, who ran away from boarding school back to the family who sent her away, to begin with. To a family who is casually werewolves. I couldn't connect with Eleanor. To be honest, she annoyed me for the most part. While I understood her frustrations and fears regarding her family, you'd think she'd have more of a backbone growing up with her family in her formative years -- especially given have badass she was made out to be at that young age.

A grandfather who may or may not have murdered his firstborn son and a grandmother thought her husband was a monster for it but stayed with him and loves him anyway. Or maybe the grandmother just thought the grandfather was a monster because she found out he was a werewolf? 

Speaking of the grandmother, who is not a werewolf but the fortune-telling matriarch, was hard to get a read on. She was actually the one who sent Eleanor away -- why I have no idea. She seemed mean and cold towards Eleanor and treated her as if she was a threat to the family. even though the family was frightening Eleanor, threatening her, and even nearly killing her on a few occasions. And who, not to mention, couldn't even shift to wolf form.

Also, I don't know what the hell is going on in this book mother has weird skin she apparently Sydney forgotten about witches weird because the skin condition is so Isabel and Unforgettable Hollywood you forget that she had that and then also the mom sits in a bathtub all day at the dinner table Lounge in front of the fireplace outside in the garden is always in bathtub or barrel of water. But we don't know why . . . 

Then we have her sister, the beautiful Luna, who she has her sister and her best friend she's written to hundreds of letters while she was in exile but the sister never responded. To make it worse, after seeing her sister for the first time in 8 years, Luna gives her a hug, claims she misses her but doesn't even let her finish speaking before promptly ignoring her.

Next, we have the cousin, Rhys. He is the favored child who was to inherit everything. At first, when Eleanor returned, he was affectionate and charming. But then he suddenly turned out to be an asshole, who kept trying to scare Eleanor (not in the cute, prank type of way), borderline threatened her bodily harm, and may or may not be raping Arthur . . .

Arthur is supposed to be the love interest... I think? Well, he's who's is a one dimension character, we know nothing about, and who rarely speaks. And everyone -- Eleanor, her father, her sister, and her cousin, Rhys -- seems to be obsessed with fighting for his affections, or rather who gets first dibs at taking advantage of him? As the info on his character is vague, I'm assuming he's vampire but the family is also able to force him to do things he doesn't want to do which makes him angry but he continues to come back under the guise that he's the family’s accountant. Weird.  

All in all, WHAT BIG TEETH was a weird, disorienting ride and not really my thing. I love the Addams family and this book has those vibes but it's too hard to follow. Rose Szabo's knack for atmosphere is noteworthy -- dark, gothic, weird was done fabulously. The worldbuilding was also up to par for the story. Unfortunately, the pacing was poorly executed but that's probably because there's no real plot going on and it was confusing.


Rose Szabo is a nonbinary writer from Richmond, VA, where they live with an assortment of people and animals and teach writing at VCU. They have an MA in English from the University of Maine and an MFA in creative writing from VCU. Their work has been published in See the Elephant and Quaint magazines. What Big Teeth is their first novel.

Visit her online at

Happy Reading!


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