THE SPIRIT BARES ITS TEETH by ANDREW JOSEPH WHITE
A REVIEW by ALEXA DUNCAN
Andrew Joseph White is one of my favorite authors. Wanted to get this out of the way before I really start this review. And because White is one of my favorite authors, I wasn’t sure if I could be objective when writing this review. Did I love the book because I love the author? Or do I love the book because it’s good? I’m pleased to say that it’s likely both.
The Spirit Bares Its Teeth is a brutal Victorian Era gothic horror novel following Silas, the child of a well-off family who expect him to be the perfect child. The perfect daughter. Only Silas is trans and his family doesn’t understand or accept it. They’re also part of the Royal society of Speakers–mediums who see and speak to ghosts and manage hauntings throughout England. With his violet eyes–all Speakers have them–Silas is expected to marry and be the perfect housewife he never wants to be. After a disaster at a Speaker function, Silas is shipped off to Braxton’s School and Sanatorium for “unwell girls.”
\It is here that Silas learns that the school isn’t what it seems. It’s not a school, rather a prison, and girls are going missing. When their ghosts call out to Silas for help, he vows to do anything in his power to help them–no matter the cost.
I loved this book from the very first page. The writing is spectacular, as it always is with Andrew Joseph White. The prose is dark and gritty and the voice is very distinctive. Silas is his own character, not just a cardboard cutout meant to tell the story. Silas is also autistic and that shows throughout the story in the way he speaks, the way he interacts with other characters. It’s wonderful representation–White himself is autistic–and I loved every bit of it.
The sheer brutality of the novel is what I enjoyed the most–weird as that might be the say. I loved how White doesn’t shy away from some very tough topics–sexism, transphobia, ableism, medical malpractice, among others. The setting and pacing also serve the story very well. Never did I feel bored or that the story wasn’t moving as fast as it could have.
For those looking for a legitimately scary read with something important to say, pick up The Spirit Bares Its Teeth by Andrew Joseph White at the Argenta Library today!