Review: Teeth by Kelli Owen

Teeth by Kelli Owen
CreateSpace (June 2018)

248 pages; $12.99 paperback; $4.99 e-book
Reviewed by Sadie “Mother Horror” Hartmann

Sometimes I feel like a treasure hunter when I pick up a new book. I hold it in my hands and I think, “Will this book be a bright, shiny gem?” I get excited about the prospect of discovering something new and precious.

I think Teeth by Kelli Owen is such a treasure; a true gem in vampire fiction. This book doesn’t follow any expectations one would have when reading a story about creatures who hunt live prey and suck their blood to survive. Owen has basically dismantled conventional and accepted vampire mythos in order to build it back up to her specifications. A risky move! Horror fans love their vampires, myself included! But it’s this reader’s opinion that Kelli’s world of lamians is one I want to read more of, and I think you will, too.

Picture a world much like our present day, where humans coexist with lamians (vampires). They look like us and it’s impossible to distinguish us from them—unless you get a good look at their teeth; but even then, some humans are so enamored with lamians they wear dental accessories to look like one.

Of course all this coexisting isn’t without its complications, and during the course of the book we are given several examples of how things can go terribly, terribly wrong. Discrimination, stereotyping, prejudices, and conflicts are part of the daily struggle for humans and lamians.

One of my favorite characters is the protagonist, Dillon, a teenager who lives with his mother Andrea. Andrea think lamians are sinful creatures. She feeds her paranoia with Fox News-style propaganda and religious rhetoric. Dillon is scared of her and seeks support from the Lamplight Foundation—a resource for established lamians and those who are just coming to terms with their new “condition.”

One of the other intersecting stories is that of Detective Connor Murphy, who seems to have a knack for investigating crimes involving the lamian community. His current case is a potential serial killer. The victims show signs of possible lamian attack, but he’s skeptical.

Horror fans will enjoy all the chapters with our antagonist, Henry, a creepy school janitor with a dangerous obsession. Owen wrote Henry with precision and intimacy. She gets the reader inside the mind of a deranged psychopath with unflinching detail, and the experience is both shocking and fascinating. With multiple POVs and compelling intersecting stories, Teeth is a page-turning rush. I thoroughly enjoyed it, I recommend it, and I hope there will be more from Kelli Owen’s lamian universe.

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