Such Big Teeth
by Gabby Hutchinson Crouch
If you go down to the woods today, be sure of a big surprise.
The Battle of Nearby Village is over, and deep in the Darkwood, Gretel and her friends journey into the hostile mountains of the north, seeking new allies in their fight against the huntsmen. There they find Gilde the Bear Witch, along with a Werewolf named Scarlett and a winged man named Hex. Meanwhile, Hansel and Daisy set off on a dangerous trip of their own to the Citadel, where they end up in the middle of a political battle for the future of the whole country.
Can Gretel and her friends persuade Gilde to join forces, or at least stop fighting them at every step? Can Hansel find a way to heal the land’s divisions and make the huntsmen change their ways before disaster strikes them all? And how did Trevor the spider get hold of a wig?
I received an eARC of Such Big Teeth from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Check out my review of Darkwood!
Darkwood was one of my favourite reads of last year, a funny MG fantasy novel with a lot of heart, so I’ve been anticipating the sequel since I finished reading it.
Such Big Teeth follows on around a fortnight after the events at the end of Darkwood. Gretel is still living with her found family of misfits in the Darkwood while her brother, Hansel, and friend, Daisy, head to the Citadel amidst an election for a new Head of the Huntsmen.
This series still has a wonderful sense of humour and I felt so comforted being back in the company of these characters—particularly Trevor the talking spider, who’s still adorable and definitely an excellent spy. I also loved how the new characters we meet bring in even more fairy tales, without being obvious who they are in much the same way that it wasn’t always obvious in the first book.
What I enjoyed most about Such Big Teeth was its shades of grey. This is a funny series, even daft, but Gabby Hutchinson Crouch never talks down to her readers. This novel highlights how politicians can hide what they really mean behind words that sound perfect, but also how there isn’t necessarily a black and white divide between good and bad. In this novel we meet witches who aren’t actually that nice – because the wicked witch idea must come from somewhere, right? – and huntsmen who don’t actually seem that evil.
I loved this idea, and the only reason I didn’t rate this novel as highly as I rated Darkwood is because Such Big Teeth does ultimately end with the idea that witches = good and huntsmen = bad, and I think it’s a shame the novel went back to that rather black and white divide after exploring the idea that those divisions aren’t as clear as we might think. The ending also felt a little anti-climactic to me, but I still enjoyed this novel a lot and I’ll definitely be continuing this series.
I have to admit that it was also a real pleasant surprise to encounter two LGBT+ romances in this novel, and that neither of them were ever used as a comedic device to be laughed at. Any fairy tale that gives me a queer Snow White is a fairy tale I’m going to love. Obviously, this being a MG novel, the romance isn’t explicit and it isn’t a huge part of the story, but it is there and none of the characters comment on it being unusual that two women and two men are into each other. It’s a brilliant way to normalise queer relationships for MG readers.
Such Big Teeth is fun, funny and wonderfully political. If you’re a fan of fantasy, fairy tales and MG, you need to give this series a try!