Poetry Madness

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Saturday, December 22nd, 2007
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The Tooth Fairy

by Graham Joyce

Fairies Wear Boots

A review by David Hannon

Beginning with a startling scene in which a five-year-old boy has two of his toes bitten off by a fish, Graham Joyce's critically acclaimed story makes you keenly aware that this is not going to be your average, sweet fairy tale. The Tooth Fairy is about the strange but still somehow "normal" childhood of one Sam Southall, who's a pretty ordinary kid until he experiences something completely extraordinary.

"Can you see me? Can you? That's bad. Real bad." This is how seven-year-old Sam Southall, lying terrified in bed, first meets the Tooth Fairy, an overtly sexual, sometimes sweet, sometimes sadistic, androgynous being that will create havoc in Sam's life throughout his adolescence. Not the Tooth Fairy you pictured as a child, this one actually wakes you up at night, swears like a sailor, and threatens to tear your eyes out.

The plot follows Sam and his pals as they go through the rigors of growing up. The taunting, crushes, friendships, and troubles that most kids experience are a big part of the story. But, different from your average coming-of-age tale, what makes the novel so anomalous is Joyce's dark and edgy style and his choice of the Tooth Fairy as a nemesis/friend/intimate companion for Sam.

So, is Sam a troubled child seeing something that's not there, or is the Tooth Fairy real? Joyce plays with both ideas quite successfully; in the end, you still might be left wondering. Winner of the 1997 British Fantasy Award for Best Novel, The Tooth Fairy is a mesmerizing story that will leave you with a new image of a childhood legend.

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