Today: The Tooth Fairy, by Graham Joyce
This is the sort of book I want to tell everyone to go out and buy but don't because while it is awesome it is not life changing and also contains some questionable content, and so I fear anyone who took my advice and didn't like it would judge me after. But none of you are going to judge me, right? Right.
Anyway! If I had to describe this book in five words, those words would be "dark coming-of-age fantasy" because- well, because that's what it is. It's the story of a boy (Sam) who, when he was young, accidentally saw the tooth fairy and in doing so cursed himself with its presence for the rest of his life (and cursed the tooth fairy with his presence in its life as well). Sam hates the tooth fairy and the tooth fairy hates him back, but the tooth fairy's hate is a jealous, possessive sort of hate that makes it want to control as much of Sam's life as possible. As he grows up, the tooth fairy has a hand in nearly everything that happens to Sam, good and bad - the good as rewards for complying with its wishes, the bad as punishments for going against them. Sam's struggle is to learn both what sort of person he wants to be and how to co-exist with a creature that cannot leave him alone.
Is it giving too much away to say that, at the end of the novel, it is unclear whether the tooth fairy was ever real? I hope not, because that is the most impressive aspect of the story-telling. Despite Sam's own belief in the reality of the tooth fairy, there is always some doubt if it isn't, in fact, a pseudo-physical manifestation of Sam's bad conscience - a larger, angrier version of the devil on his shoulder. I had to read it again the second I realized there was an alternative way to interpret everything that had happened, and to me that's the sign of a good book - one that you are overcome with a desire to re-read before you've even put it down the first time 'round. ♥