Josh Reviews: Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow

Posted October 9, 2013 by Joshua Burns in Josh, Reviews, Werewolves / 0 Comments

Josh Reviews: Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow
Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow
Published on: January 29th, 2008
Genres: Werewolves
Pages: 312
Format: Hardcover
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Amazon | Book Depo 

An ancient race of lycanthropes has survived to the present day, and its numbers are growing. Bent on dominance, rival factions are initiating the down-and-out of L.A. into their ranks. Caught in the middle are Anthony, a kindhearted, lovesick dogcatcher, and the object of his affection: a female werewolf who has abandoned her pack.

Sharp Teeth taps into some rather occult energies,
some bad freaking juju, to get your attention and clamp down.
What’s the bite (not the kicker, ‘lest we’re talking about weremule stories)?
Well, the whole thing’s written like an epic poem:
see Iliad/Odyssey/Aeneid for best ‘xamples aka
really old hallmarks of a really old genre.

So, firstly, it’s tapped into an ancient Greco-Roman tradition,
which other reviewers have liked to designate Ovid’s territory
and as much as I begrudged that designation, it became
totes clear at the end.   Secondly, and most importantly,
before I lose your attention, it’s got the werewolf thing going for it.
And, lastly, the American mythos of the West, complete with border
crossings and Spanish phrases.   Are these three ingredients
alchemically forged to the point where the passage
from one to another is as smooth as a hundred year old were’s skin-shift?

In the passage from the scream to the howl,
like a dusty road, there are some rough passages.
Perspective jumps
and while this
can be as fun
as when a rabbit escapes you mid-hunt,
it can also
for obvious reasons
be aggravating,
as in “where’s the food gone?”
At least, if it becomes less than clear,
it doesn’t stay that way for long and a structure does emerge,
a great web that when it comes together, really knits things up.
Some of these lines, especially dealing with a dogcatcher
and weregirl’s romance, nip at the ankles like only a good bit
of poetry can.   In other places, the jar
and tackle of a good line
break reminded me epic poems aren’t just written for easier
consumption but mostly because a turn of phrase
can receive highlighting without a single car passing in the night.
If I had to voice complaints it would be the off-kilter characterizations,
a deficit to be expected from anyone trying to ape Iliadic proportions.
Where are our Hectors?   Of course, in an age when morality is so ragamuffin,
it is to be somewhat expected as well that the blue-collar love affair
between two tools of the system should get the happy ending
and the plotters and schemers are left out in the cold.

Recommended: For its teething
Like this, like that: Dreadful Skin by Cherie Priest and The Dragons of Babel by Michael Swanwick

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Reviews UF/PR novels with an eye for weres of all kinds.

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