What would you do if you started to believe your child was a psychopath?
On the outside it looks like Suzette has it all. A stunning ultra-modern home, designed by her handsome Swedish husband. A beautiful, but silent, seven-year-old daughter who is fiercely intelligent. But under the shiny veneer, the cracks are all too clear.
For her daughter Hanna isn’t just clever, she’s dangerous. Her behaviour is carefully calculated. She adores her father, yet wants Suzette to disappear. And as Hanna’s tricks become increasingly sophisticated – from tampering with her mother’s daily medication, imitating a rabid dog, to setting Suzette on fire – it’s increasingly clear that there is something seriously wrong with their little girl.
Because what kind of child wants to kill their own mother?
'Stage expertly crafts this creepy, can't-put-it-down thriller into a fearless exploration of parenting and marriage that finds the cracks in unconditional love' Publishers Weekly
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Screenwriter-turned-author Zoje Stage's debut novel drills into a provocative idea: What if your own child really, really hated you? New mum Suzette has a twisted, troubled relationship with her mute daughter, Hanna. Suzette’s endless attempts to soften Hanna’s defiance only stoke the girl’s blazing desire to "make Mommy go away". Using ping-ponging perspectives to propel her carefully calibrated plot, Stage borrows from the myth of Myrrha and The Exorcist while playing on every parent’s most unspeakable fear.
Stage's deviously fun debut takes child-rearing anxiety to demented new heights. Frustrated and fragile stay-at-home mom Suzette and seven-year-old Hanna alternately narrate a cascade of crises stemming from Hanna's near-total refusal to speak, her mistrust of her mom and adoration of her dad, and the parents' frantic attempts to find a solution to Hanna's increasingly dangerous tantrums. From Hanna's perspective, Suzette is the only thing standing in the way of the complete devotion of her father, Alex, and she plots ways to "step up her game against Mommy." For Suzette, her love-starved relationship with a distant mother and chronic Crohn's haunt every attempt to bond with a little girl who barks like a "feral animal" and only speaks as a 17th-century girl named Marie-Anne Dufosset, who was burned at the stake for suspected witchcraft. For the besieged Suzette, there's also a troubling ambivalence about whether she wants to save or kill her disturbed child. Stage expertly crafts this creepy, can't-put-it-down thriller into a fearless exploration of parenting and marriage that finds the cracks in unconditional love. 100,000-copy announced first printing.
A slow bore that ultimately leads nowhere
Baby Teeth has an interesting premise. The cliché “creepy child” trope was what drew me into buying the book. Yet my expectations were crushed in the first 15 pages of the book. Spending most of its time running through a boring suburban day to day lifestyle, and exploring the meaningless past this book never truly picks up. Hanna’s antics are interesting at times but become unrealistic and stupid by the midpoint. The characters around Suzette are annoying and don’t serve the plot well at all and the ending leaves you with a bad taste. Don’t pick up this book, as it only has about 20 pages of interesting content while the rest is filled with following the slow daily life of a mum and her daughter.
Very very unpleasantly weird without relief.