I didn’t necessarily expect to really really like an epic poem/novel in free verse about rival werewolf gangs/packs in Los Angeles, but I really really liked Sharp Teeth. It starts with a nod to a Homeric invocation of the muse, but modern, and slips in at least one nod to “rosy-fingered dawn” that I caught, but mostly the style is its own, and it works. The book starts with Anthony, a guy who’s looking for a job and finds one as a dogcatcher at the city pound. (You can read the beginning of the book on the NPR website.) Then we switch to Lark and his pack, Lark and a bunch of guys and a woman, and then Lark sends the woman (whose name we never learn: I read in a comment on a Goodreads review that Barlow meant this to feel mythic; I found it mildly annoying) to meet the new dogcatcher. She’s not sure why: she just knows Lark has plans.

Meanwhile, odd things are happening at the pound, and also meanwhile, Lark is trying to figure out what’s going on with two other packs in the area, and also meanwhile, two guys from Lark’s pack are sent off to Pasadena to play bridge (which is somehow also part of Lark’s plan). Things happen. Lark finds himself in a potentially dangerous situation; Lark decides on an interesting way to wait it out. (I like Lark a lot.) We see those two other packs, and so, eventually, do Lark and the woman (who, by the way, has started dating Anthony: a dogcatcher and a werewolf, yes). There’s also a police officer named Peabody who starts out looking into what’s going on at the pound, and ends up looking into rather a lot more, and part of what he’s looking into is tied up with the story of one of the other packs. There’s vengeance and betrayal and desperation and violence and loyalty and love and a little bit of humor, and it shouldn’t necessarily work, but somehow, it totally does.

4 Responses to “Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow
HarperCollins, 2008”

  1. Stefanie Says:

    I’ve never heard of this before but it sounds great! Hopefully my library has it!

  2. Heather Says:

    I’ll be curious to hear what you think about it if you do read it!

  3. Jenny @ Reading the End Says:

    What a deeply weird idea for a book — love to the author for pulling it off. Adding to my list!

  4. Heather Says:

    I don’t even have a particular fondness for werewolf books in general, so I was extra-impressed that I liked this one as much as I did!

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