MYSTERY

Baby Teeth

St. Martin's. Jul. 2018. 320p. ISBN 9781250170750. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781250170774. THRILLER
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OrangeReviewStarIn this deliciously creepy thriller, seven-year-old Hanna silently connives to kill her mother so she can have dear daddy all to herself. Stay-at-home mom Suzette longed for a little girl she could connect with and dote on. Instead, almost from birth, Hanna is emotionally detached and silent. After ruling out cognitive disabilities, autism, and a hearing disability, Suzette and Alex come to accept Hanna's silence as a quirk she'll one day outgrow. But while Hanna is all smiles and hugs when Alex comes home, during the daytime, it's a battle of wills between mother and daughter. Alex fails to see or acknowledge Hanna's vindictive, destructive, and increasingly violent behavior. Experiencing a mix of guilt, anger, and anxiety about her parenting, Suzette also struggles with the daily pain and unpredictability of Crohn's disease, which is described with visceral authenticity. The author keeps the suspense taut by alternating chapters between Hanna and Suzette, offering a terrifying glimpse into the inner thoughts of a budding sociopath.
VERDICT This twisty first novel has been aptly compared to The Omen and Lionel Shiver's We Need To Talk About Kevin, which is especially apparent in Stage's exploration of the dark side of modern motherhood. A first purchase where suspenseful and offbeat psychological thrillers circulate well.

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