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Sharp Teeth [Paperback]

Toby Barlow
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
Price: 7.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

7 Aug 2008

An ancient race of lycanthropes survives in modern L.A. and its numbers are growing as packs convert the city's downtrodden into their fold. Stuck in the middle are a local dogcatcher and the woman he loves, whose secret past haunts her as she fights a bloody one-woman battle to save their relationship.

Sharp Teeth is a novel-in-verse that blends epic themes with dark humour, dogs playing cards, crystal meth labs, and acts of heartache and betrayal in Southern California.

Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (7 Aug 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099512467
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099512462
  • Product Dimensions: 2.2 x 13 x 19.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 420,687 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Alongside the sharp plotting, the poetry is exhilarating to read...The book's emotional register is similarly expansive, moving from the drily witty to the horrific and, often unexpectedly, the very moving. But beneath growls an unbroken note of menace...A love story so taut that you could floss with it" (The Times)

"'s about identity, community, love, death, and all the things we want our books to be about" (Nick Hornby)

"Forget any reservations you might have about werewolf stories or verse novels. This is great, engaging, wonderful stuff. Sondheim should make it his next musical" (Michael Moorcock)

"The blending of urban heat and gothic savagery is blackly funny - and it works beautifully. The idea of lycanthropy has never been so hypnotically lyrical. And the romantic relationship between the human dog handler Anthony and secret shape shifter Sasha is drawn with real tenderness. There is biting comedy, too" (Daily Telegraph)

"Daringly original... A wonderously strange story. His evocation of urban werefolf underworld is both inventive and probable" (New Statesman)


'An imaginative tour de force'

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Unique Werewolf Tale 18 Oct 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
An ancient race of lycanthropes survives in modern L.A., and its numbers are growing as the pack converts the city's downtrodden into their fold. Stuck in the middle are a local dog-catcher and the woman he loves, whose secret past haunts her as she fights a bloody one woman battle to save their relationship.

If you had told me earlier this year that I would read an entire novel that was written in free verse I would have laughed in your face. If you told me I was going to enjoy it, there is a good chance I would have fallen from my chair. I should try to explain. I don't have much of a relationship with poetry; in fact, I don't read any at all. In the past I have tried, I've been sent poetry collections to review and epically failed to form any sort of attachment with the text. With this thought in mind, you can imagine my surprise when I started reading Sharp Teeth and I not only liked it, but was utterly engrossed.

Toby Barlow really seems to have captured the primal nature of the pack with his writing. It also seems such a logical fit to compare the gangs of Los Angeles and their culture with the pack mentality of wolves; both groups seem to behave in such a similar manner. The different werewolf packs prey upon lonely individuals who live on the periphery of the city's society.

There are two characters that made Sharp Teeth for me. Firstly there is Anthony, the dog catcher. His story is the emotional heart of the novel. He is utterly destroyed by the events that take place in his narrative and his journey was totally compelling. Anthony is just a simple man who thinks he has found the missing piece of his life only for it to be ripped away from him. I was unprepared for how affecting the highs and lows he lives through would be.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful read 30 July 2009
By Hud955i
This is an extraordinary book. I sat down with it and devoured it in one sitting and then came up for air, feeling as though I had been savaged.

It is written in verse, but it's a very free verse which doesn't intrude upon the reader, and after a few minutes it is easy to forget that the lines don't run to the edge of the page. The language is familiar and direct, and causes no complications. Having said that, the writing has all the power and concentration of good narrative poetry. Though the story is hard-bitten, it is the verse that really packs the punch. And what a punch!

This is a werewolf novel. Whatever instinct it was that made Toby Barlow think of writing a werewolf novel in verse, it was a good one: the book works spectacularly well. It works because verse can do something that prose can't. It can concentrate feeling and cut straight to the essentials. In 'Sharp Teeth' it goes for the jugular and doesn't let go. There's no messing around here, no unnecessary detail, no asides or elaborate descriptions, no self-indulgence, just a bitter narrative as straight and as powerful as they come

'Sharp Teeth' doesn't trade on the magical or mysterious. It's a werewolf novel told in a realistic style. Its characters and settings are modern and recognisable. Its passions, although they run high and wild, stay within the bounds of ordinary human experience.

Yet, like any good werewolf novel, it's full of a savage sensuality: it's vicious and it's violent. It reeks of blood, eroticism and desire. It looks at the passions that bind people together and drive them apart. It looks at the tension between the individual and the pack. And driving all this is a powerful undercurrent of unfulfilled need and animal frustration.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
With all the Twilight-fodder out there, one might forget that there are contemporary (Young) Adult books about werewolves and other assorted fantastic content, that are actually worth reading for more than the guilty pleasure of a `fantastic love story' that lovelorn maidens seem to be interested in these days. One of these books is Toby Barlow's debut Sharp Teeth. The book deals with packs of lycanthropes (werewolves) who are not only battling each other, but who're also planning to take over Los Angeles, with each pack having a different strategy to reach that goal. The originality of Barlow's novel is that it's written in free verse. Now, for someone who's not interested in poetry or heroic epics, this might sound like a hard read, potentially boring even. However, the language Barlow uses is so strong and captivating, that at every step of the way it feels as if you're reading a noir thriller. "Poetry is a way of taking life by the throat". This Robert Frost quote is the motto of the book, and that's what this book does in more ways than one.

Barlow weaves different subplots together like the best auteur (the movie references are never far away in this book, by the way, and you can easily see how it could be another Sin City - Barlow himself refers to it as "a graphic novel without the pictures") . The story starts with Anthony Silvo, a self-professed dogcatcher who falls in love with a mysterious woman. She leads a second life as a lycanthrope, working for Lark, the leader of a pack of dogs. Her growing feelings for Anthony makes her regret choices she made in the past. Lark suspects that competing packs of lycanthropes are after his power and he prepares for battle (leading an undercover dog's life (as Buddy) with Bonnie, who fondly scratches his ears every evening...).
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Slick
This was recommended by someone in our local book club. It's not something I would have chosen myself but I'm glad I got the chance to read it. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Mumofone1980
5.0 out of 5 stars A riveting gamble through gang culture
LA gang rivalry expressed as a prose poem about packs of werewolves: descent, assimilation, betrayal and revenge. I've read it twice, and I'll read it again. Tremendous
Published 3 months ago by Victoria
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly original, it sounds like it won't work but it does!
I read about this book in a guardian article on "summer reads" and I laughed about the premise when I first saw it. Then I read some reviews and became intrigued. Read more
Published 24 months ago by Late night reader
4.0 out of 5 stars Unique and engaging!
I think if someone told me that a novel had been written in an epic poem format, and that it involved a pack of werewolves - I don't think I would have picked this up! Read more
Published on 7 Jun 2012 by Louise Roberts
4.0 out of 5 stars Doggedly gritty...
This was an impulse purchase for a long coach journey, and one I didn't regret. I've had some bad experiences with impulse book purchases based solely off the cover and concept,... Read more
Published on 14 Nov 2010 by J.Bates
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic debut
Sharp Teeth is a novel in verse, my first. I've read the Odyssey by Homer, and some really long stuff by Keats, but never anything like this. Read more
Published on 6 Sep 2008 by Christopher Halo
5.0 out of 5 stars Growls with brilliance (not the best title...)
Sharp Teeth is a novel in verse, my first. I've read the Odyssey by Homer, and some really long stuff by Keats, but never anything like this. Read more
Published on 6 Sep 2008 by Christopher Halo
4.0 out of 5 stars It's Dog eat dog - really!
Imagine the turf wars of 'The Sopranos' but with packs of werewolves instead of the feuding families; then take the story and tell it in free form verse, and you'll get to the... Read more
Published on 16 Aug 2008 by Annabel Gaskell
4.0 out of 5 stars Addictive.
From the bio-in-the-back we know that Barlow runs his own advertising firm and it really shows. If I had to sum this book up in one word I would say "slick! Read more
Published on 23 Mar 2008 by Guest Reviewer
3.0 out of 5 stars Not my cup of tea
OK a modern book of verse that follows in the footsteps of the ancient sagas, however for me, it really didn't do much, yep it was novel, yep it appeared well written but I really... Read more
Published on 18 Sep 2007 by Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog
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