Review: Queen of Teeth by Hailey Piper

cover of Queen of TeethQueen of Teeth by Hailey Piper
Strangehouse Books (August 2021)
198 pages; $14.95 paperback; $9.99 e-book
Reviewed by Sadie “Mother Horror” Hartmann

You might be surprised to learn that Queen of Teeth is the debut novel from Hailey Piper. Her name is everywhere! How can this be her debut? Well, up until this book’s release, Piper has had a string of successful book releases in the novella page count range: The Possession of Natalie Glasgow, Benny Rose the Cannibal King, The Worm and His Kings, a short story collection, and a Short, Sharp, Shocks from Demain Publishing called An Invitation to Darkness. There is also a variety of short fiction published in dozens of anthologies and magazines. Through this whirlwind of storytelling, Piper has gathered unto herself a massive fanbase. Personally, I show up for anything with her name on it. I’m a sell-out for Piper’s unique brand.

Queen of Teeth is special. Her first novel and what a way to crush a debut!

Setting a new standard for body horror, this book begins with the main character, Yolanda “Yaya” Betancourt, making a startling discovery about her body in the bathroom of a woman she barely knows. She makes a quick exit, her mind buzzing with questions. Ultimately, Yaya settles on her body changes being a new side effect of a medical experiment she has been a part of since birth.

Later, as Yaya’s condition is developing, a powerful scientific entity known as AlphaBeta Pharmaceutical is hunting her down…and she is falling in love. 

One of the most important themes of this book is the protection of a woman’s agency; the ability to take control of her own life at all costs. The world tries to override agency all the time, especially when it comes to mental and physical health. Women are groomed from a very early age to be silent about the issues that are troubling us. It’s too awkward or uncomfortable to share sexual health concerns. We fear being labeled negatively by society if we can’t perform or live up to the world’s standards of normalcy. We’re supposed to take a step back and allow others to guide our futures instead of advocating for ourselves and claiming ownership.

This book speaks to all of this and more because Piper also infuses the narrative with an LBGTQ+ point of view. 

Horror fans who are willing to go on an exotic journey into strange and wonderful world-building unlike any other will enjoy this blend of romance and horror. Hailey Piper is at the top of her game, literally machete-chopping through new territory, blazing an exciting trail for others to follow. The future of horror looks so invigoratingly queer and progressive. I love being a part of the celebration. 

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