cover image Such Sharp Teeth

Such Sharp Teeth

Rachel Harrison. Berkley, $27 (336p) ISBN 978-0-593-54582-9

Harrison (The Return) tries and fails to carry a metaphor about “the secrets our bodies keep” into a story that simultaneously wants to be body horror, a reckoning with the trauma of childhood sexual abuse, and a cute teen-crush-revisited romance. Rory Morris returns to her podunk hometown to help out her pregnant twin. The move, which she insists is temporary, puts her back in contact with her mother, who refuses to take responsibility for the abuse Rory experienced as a child at the hands of her mother’s boyfriend, and with Ian Pedretti, Rory’s high school crush whom her sister still thinks she should date. But Rory has more immediate problems when a bite from a mysterious creature turns her into a werewolf, complete with superstrength and violent, skin-sloughing transformations at the full moon. There are moments of cathartic rage as Rory puts an aggressively drunk partygoer in his place and visits a smash room with Ian, but she never really gets to work through her issues. The comedic tone of Rory’s social interactions rubs weirdly against the trauma plot, and the ultimate management of Rory’s werewolf-ism feels too pat, with Harrison failing to drive home an analogy between the transformation and Rory’s inner turmoil. It’s an emotionally confusing and unsatisfying mess. Agent: Lucy Carson, Friedrich Agency. (Oct.)