Book Review: The Tooth Fairy
Reviewed by Manik Chaturmutha
An enthralling horror novel of broken individuals and relationships
Content Warning: Trauma, torture
Davide Tarsitano’s debut novel, The Tooth Fairy, comes in a surprise package. What initially appears murky and obvious turns macabre. In this well-crafted dark mystery, the ending will take your breath away.
The story begins with a peek into the dysfunctional married life of Johnny Hawk, who discovers his wife’s infidelity. This betrayal impacts his personal and professional life and makes him rethink many of his previous decisions.
After his breakdown, he takes a different route and sets out to see his best friend in Los Angeles. On the journey, he befriends Jamie, and both of them bump into a charming dentist, Wendy Jag, from New Mexico. With the unforeseen encounter, Johnny’s fate becomes intertwined with Wendy’s, and the broken man is dragged into a mesh of mystery.
Johnny’s encounter with the bright lady unleashes a phase of terror that cripples the protagonist’s mind and soul. Wendy doesn’t enter as a ray of hope, instead becomes a reason for his despair. The woman’s life is shrouded in mystery, and her reality shakes Johnny to his core. All hell breaks loose when she leads him to a life-threatening experience.
The first feature in the novel that deserves appreciation is its narrative structure, where suspense is an unavoidable element. Several pieces are fused to form a magnetic storyline that sheds itself in layers. The author carves out life-like characters willing to reorganize their flawed lives.
The novel is written in the form of flashbacks and flash-forwards as a trauma narrative with epistolary elements. The author paves a natural way to make the two characters meet and initiates a significant exposition ahead.
The complexities of Wendy’s character unfold one by one in the form of diary entries—and often quite unexpectedly. The story is a commentary on trauma, betrayals, and unheard agonies that lead to severe consequences. The conflicts in Wendy’s subconscious mind are artfully conveyed.
Jamie and Johnny’s relationship is unique and strong. The distressed souls are drawn toward each other, and meanwhile, Wendy’s love for her teddy bear Ben is nearly human. The frailties, vulnerabilities, and weaknesses of the characters feel so real. Jamie’s unfulfilled desires and hopes to find a stable job hits hard. But, just as it happens in the real world, strangers become family, and the good turns bad.
Wendy’s sessions with her therapist are also realistically portrayed. The aggression looks pretty universal for any individual who has sailed through a traumatic childhood. Johnny’s desire to find a burial ground for his anxiety is wonderfully juxtaposed with Wendy’s hunt for love and acceptance.
The story offers life lessons and emphasizes the need for self-retrospection. We learn to sympathize with the characters and understand the varying degrees of their pain. We see a pure expression of pain, savagery, and carnal desire. The narrative is such that one feels like watching a movie on the celluloid. Every character keeps evolving with every chapter, and the storyline’s progress is devoid of cracks.
A riveting climax adds the finishing touch to a brilliantly paced narrative. The revelations are least expected, and the scenes of torture show something that’s rarely talked about in real life. An overall great read, The Tooth Fairy comes highly recommended to lovers of dark mystery and horror.
Genre: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense / Horror
Print Length: 278 pages
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