Tale of Tooth by Allie Rogers Legend Press April 19th 2018
Four-year-old Danny lives with his mother, Natalie, in a small Sussex town. Life is a struggle and when they are threatened with a benefits sanction, salvation appears in the form of a Job Centre employee called Karen. But Karen’s impact is to reach far beyond this one generous gesture, as she and Natalie embark on an intense relationship.
Told in the voice of an intelligent, passionate and unusual child, Tale of a Tooth is an immersive and compelling look at the impact of domestic abuse on a vulnerable family unit.
Life’s pretty good for four year old Danny, he’s got his Mum or Meemaw, otherwise known as Natalie and his beloved dinosaur Spiney, but life is about to get a bit tougher when Karen enters their life’s and everything he loves is in danger of being taken away.
From the outset I knew there was something different about Danny. He was not your average little boy, his obsession with dinosaurs, his high intelligence and obvious emotional issues placed him somewhere on a spectrum. What was extremely interesting and unique was Rogers use of Danny’s voice to tell the story. The dialogue is that of a four your old, sentences never complete, words jumbled up, no obvious conversation between the characters. It is a style which at first I found slightly off putting, but soon found myself engrossed in the tortured world of this wonderful character. Danny’s voice was distinctive and emotive and immersed me in Danny’s innermost thoughts and emotions. I could feel his fear at Karen’s violent outbursts, and his pent up frustration with Natalie at not getting rid of her. All I wanted to do was grab hold of this little boy, hug him and tell him it was all going to be ok when I knew that perhaps it was not going to be ok.
The relationship between Danny and Natalie was just so wonderful to read. Natalie is everything to Danny, the one constant in his life, the only person that understands his little idiosyncrasies, and how precious his dinosaurs are.
Karen is the interloper threatening to destroy that close relationship between Natalie and her son. She offers Natalie some time away from the drudgery of life as a single parent on benefits with very little money to feed herself and her child, but at what cost? I didn’t blame her in the slightest for taking some time to enjoy herself, but when she become subjected to abuse, both physical and mental I just wanted her to free herself from Karen. We all know that once in a cycle of abuse it is so difficult to break free and Natalie was no different. Rogers was brilliant at conveying her utter despair, her sense of guilt not only toward Karen but most importantly towards Danny. She was a character with a huge capacity for forgiveness but also doing what she felt was right, even if that wasn’t the right thing for Danny.
Rogers was extremely clever at building the tension, at times lulling me into believing that all would be well before another twist took the story further into the depths of Danny’s increasing anguish and turmoil. I found the latter parts of the novel upsetting to read at times, so traumatic were the effects of events on Danny. At no time did I feel that Rogers was writing of abuse just to merely shock, they were always in context, measured and sensitive.
It is to Roger’s huge credit that she has written such a distinct and unique novel and the great skill needed to write in the voice of a four year old and sustain it throughout impressed me enormously.
Having read and loved her debut Little Gold I was not disappointed with Tale of The Tooth, it is an impressive second novel.
I would like to thank Imogen Harris and Legend Press for a copy of Tale of the Tooth to read and review and for the invite to participate in the blogtour.
About the author
Allie Rogers was born and raised in Brighton and enjoys story in all forms, the magic of a
surprising sentence and books that defy categorisation. She is a librarian at the University of Brighton.
Follow Allie on Twitter @alliewhowrites
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