Wednesday, February 27, 2008

"Sharp Teeth" by Toby Barlow


This is something very different, dear readers. Not only that - it's GOOD. I have to 'fess up here; I have a MySpace page (finally, after much prodding from a friend of mine!) and one of the "friends" I've made is none other than Clive Barker. Anyway, he posted a bulletin about this book, so I checked it out on Amazon. Sounded interesting, about lycanthropy and such, so why not?

This is anything but your ordinary book about lycanthropes. As I said, this is something entirely new. First off, the book is written in verse. Yes, you read that correctly - this is poetry. In more ways than one, really. Now, clear your mind of any prejudices against poetry; I had to do just that, as that form is not one of my faves. But this isn't ABAB rhyme scheme or anything so mundane. If you've ever read "Beowulf", you know what sort of verse I'm talking about. (And if you haven't read that classic, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy!)

Anthony is a guy looking for a job. One day he hears about an opening at the dog pound. And with that job, his entire world changes. He meets a girl and falls in love, having no idea that she's a lycanthrope, let alone part of a pack with an alpha intent on what appears to be world domination. There's Peabody, the cop who knows that something is different about some of the dogs he's been seeing; no dog just sits in front of a house for hours, staring at it. The packs are made up of interesting characters, too, and oddly enough, while being led by the alpha, they're actually held together by the one female pack member. If the female disappears or is killed, the pack sort of disintigrates.

The plot is tightly written, circling around and around into tighter loops, until everything finally comes together at the end. The lyncathropes are very different, not bent on eating people and not "werewolves" - they literally turn into dogs at will. I found myself marveling at the author's use of language as well as his character development; no one in this piece is expendable. In short, this is one of those books that I will be talking and thinking about for a long time to come. I'm anxious to see what Barlow puts out next, too.

No comments: