Sharp Teeth

Toby Barlow
Sharp Teeth Cover

Sharp Teeth


Let's see... What would be a really terrible idea for a book?

I've got it! How about a novel about werewolves written in blank verse?

But wait, Toby Barlow has already done that with Sharp Teeth, and everything about it is amazing and excellent.

This novel satisfies on so many levels. For those who have always suspected Los Angeles of harboring rival packs of lycanthropes, here is your proof. For those who treasure the thought that true love knows no bounds, including species -- again, here is your proof. For those who like complex noirish thrillers about drug lords and shape shifters, let's face it, it is not going to get any better than this.

I confess, I wasn't giving Barlow's novel credit for how complex his tale would be until I realized I needed to back up and figure out just who was who, what pack they ran with, where the bad blood came from, and why those two lycanthropes were playing in a bridge tournament in Pasadena. (When they realize the two sweet old ladies beating them are cheating, one places a phone call to sweet old lady number one and says, "Keep it up and I will chew the flesh off your fingers." You gotta love these guys.)

But what's up with the blank verse? Truth be told, after a few pages I couldn't imagine the story written any other way. Barlow's verse is straighforward and flourish-free, but if you try printing out some pages as prose you will see it's not just Raymond Chandler with line breaks. One blurb compares Barlow to Ovid, and I did get the impression that I could be reading a free translation from an ancient writer that stayed true to the spirit of the original. And that original could be very funny, very brutal, and towards the end kind of sad.