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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 22 December 2013
Graham Joyce's Tooth Fairy is a coming of age book in the same way as Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane is, or John Connolly's The Book of Lost Things. The genre is somewhere between horror and fantasy, but Joyce is using the power of fairy tale, myth and the shadow world to explore, with humour and with savagery the world of imagination, darkness and intensity which I suspect most of us were well aware of in childhood, and particularly in adolescence. However we are inclined to ring-fence, put away and talk ourselves out of remembering that world as we don sober suits, responsibilities and become owned by the world, rather than by our febrile imaginations.

Set in the Midlands, in the early 60s, the book follows the fortunes of a small group of friends Sam, Terry and Clive, later joined by the classier, horse-riding Alice, and by Linda, slightly older, much more sophisticated, striding into the uplands of sexuality way before the 3 boys she originally bosses and nannies.

Sam, aged 5, loses a milk tooth, and meets a Tooth Fairy. The Tooth Fairy is like nothing from Peter Pan. He/she/it is a sexual shapeshifter; feral, filthy, violent, alluring, murderous, vengeful, wounded, lost, tender, anarchic and comically, lethally, viciously destructive. The Tooth Fairy represents the dark, hidden, I-have-no-idea-what-is-going-to-happen-next-randomness of life. Only Sam (a perfectly normal and ordinary lower middle class boy, going through school, going through adolescence, meeting bullies, kind teachers and alcoholic psychiatrists) sees the Fairy, though occasionally others sense its presence.

So..........think a comic, inventive writer who can precisely get inside the heads of a group of young boys, but that writer also does not shy away from perfectly dark and horrific places in reality (suicide, violence, murder, drug abuse, sexual abuse). And that writer can come up with a cracking good narrative, and have the sharp, witty observation about a particular period in time and place similarly, for example, as Jonathan Coe does.

Joyce is a mash-up fantasy, horror, comedic social commentator of a writer, who creates real, utterly believable characters, and just twists their world, whilst maintaining the truthfulness of personality and psychology and the daytime reality we are familiar with.

This is a book for adults, not for children, even though the central characters are children, and young adults
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on 17 May 2010
You know the Tooth fairy right, cute little pixie type with wacky hat. Loveable creature much admired by young children as it sneaks about taking discarded teeth and swapping them for vast sums of money. Turns out they are not quite that nice after all.

Sam accidentally sees the Tooth Fairy one night and things take a downward turn from then on. You see, this tooth fairy, is an evil manipulative spirit and the fact that he/she is seen binds it to Sam, neither is particularly happy with this situation.

This book is not really about fairies though, good or bad. It's about growing up; it's about dealing with all life's problems through a difficult adolescence. It is, in fact, a coming of age story.

Set in the late sixties the book also plays out in tandem with the sexual and cultural revolutions taking place in that period. Sam and his friends are faced with increasingly complicated and often tragic family histories. Trying to make sense of this whilst being confronted with an often malevolent spirit makes Sam's life particularly difficult and for the reader, particularly interesting.

Graham Joyce's use of a normally happy childhood symbol in an altogether more malevolent form is genius. It allows him to exaggerate and emphasise the difficulties Sam experiences growing up. That difficult period of puberty as new feelings and experiences begin to come to prominence is given added mystique.

Needless to say sex plays a prominent role throughout the book as Sam's urges awaken against the background of a general rise in promiscuity in the late 60's. The offsetting of Sam's innocence with the Tooth Fairies experience provides a rich vein of confusion in Sam's mind which Joyce exploits to the full.

So the tooth fairy becomes a metaphor for life's difficulties. The characters are engaging, the plot compelling and original and the balance between humour and pathos is beautifully realised. Anyone expecting a fantasy or fairy story should steer clear but anyone who enjoys a gritty psychological drama with plenty of horrific overtones will really enjoy this book.
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on 26 December 2013
Expected a lot more in terms of creepiness.Lots of teenage angst,and a well written book,but I was left a bit disappointed. It's very much,when you write a book like this,you make the rules.
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I'd actually picked up this novel and put it back on the bookshop shelves on several occasions before I finally decided to buy it last week. Why I put it back, I can't be sure - possibly I was put off by the blurb on the back, which makes it sound like a trashy horror novel (the book is in the ever-diminishing Horror section in Waterstone's). I like horror; I dislike trashy horror. I'm glad, however, that I eventually caved in, because The Tooth Fairy was a thoroughly enjoyable and often touching read, part horror novel, part coming-of-age novel, part psychological thriller.

Sam Southall, aged seven at the start of the novel and living in the Midlands, loses a tooth. Debating the existence of the Tooth Fairy with his best friends, Terry and Clive, he agrees to the precocious Clive's plan: to find out once and for all whether the Tooth Fairy exists, he should put his tooth under the pillow without telling his parents. That night, Sam receives a visit from the reeking, androgynous, vicious Tooth Fairy - a Tooth Fairy who is dangerously furious that Sam can see it, and who comes to exert a dangerous influence over not just Sam, but his friends. Sometimes, the Tooth Fairy is threatening, even violent; frequently vindictive; sometimes, seductive; occasionally jealous and needy. Sometimes, it even professes to be helpful - but the Tooth Fairy's particular brand of 'help' is the most terrifying of all.

Is the Tooth Fairy real, or simply a manifestation of Sam's own negative emotions - his guilt, his shyness, the sexual frustrations of his adolescence and his sense of inadequacy? Sam's psychiatrist, muttering about paranoia and smelling of Johnnie Walker, thinks the Tooth Fairy will disappear when Sam meets 'a girl'. But if that's the case, how can Sam explain the accidents and misfortune that occasionally befall people who betray him?

Personally, I wouldn't have shelved The Tooth Fairy in the Horror section: it's so much more than that. The evocation of a suburban childhood in England in the 60s is full of well-chosen details, and the story of Sam, Terry and Clive, as well as the seemingly sophisticated Alice (whose 'relationship' with her 'boyfriend' suggests that she is actually the most vulnerable of them all), is perfectly realised.

My only issue with the story was perhaps the end - a bit too easy, perhaps, a bit of a cop-out? Otherwise, though, a chilling, intelligent, ambiguous read.
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on 25 August 2014
Could not understand this book
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on 29 March 2017
I couldn't put this book down! A genuinely creepy coming of age tale of young Sam who encounters the "tooth fairy" aged seven, anyone who is a fan of Gaiman, King et al will love this. The characters were incredibly believable, the setting relatable to anyone who grew up in small town England and the analogies excellent.

I'm already looking forward to re-reading this in the years to come, and have recommended it far and wide!

Buy it!
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Grotesque, beautiful, repulsive, compelling, hilarious, tragic, magical and very very erotic! Rarely have I read a book that provokes so many conflicting emotions. The angst of growing pains and awakening sexuality is very skilfully crafted and will, no doubt, strike a chord of recognition with many readers. The enigmatic character of the Tooth Fairy will haunt you long after the final page.

A minor masterpiece.
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on 16 September 2003
I'm reading the Tooth Fairy for the second time now, having looked it out for a friend. Once I'd found it I couldn't put it down (both times!) and my friend is going to have to wait!!! It's an absolutely FABULOUS book. The action starts right on the first page and the whole book is fast moving, exciting, imaginative and very gripping. I'd encourage anyone to read it - it's certainly one of the best books I've ever read and parts of it have stayed with me for years. Also, like one of the other reviewers, I too think The Tooth Fairy would make a great film - the imagery is so vivid! It's definitely a book that can be read again without loosing any of its excitement. I'm certainly going to buy more of Graham Joyce's books.
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on 10 April 2002
'The Tooth Fairy' intrigues from the outset, then gets to the point and stays there, making it a real page-turner; I finished it in two days. The book tells the story of a boy's relationship with a fairy being from the age of five to eighteen, and the effect it has on him and those close to him.
If you are not a fan of Fantasy - DON'T BE PUT OFF BY THE TITLE! The author wisely uses the most interesting features of 'fairy' without bogging the story down with unnecessary background or desription. Fear not, the fairy realm is visited only once, and very briefly. This focus on the character of the Tooth Fairy, at the expense of exploring it's traditions, home or family maintains a strong sense of reality in the story.
Graham Joyce accurately portrays grubby teenage boys and the horrid things they get up to. This book is liable to stir up memories of the stupid and sometimes dangerous activites we get involved with in our youth. If you can't remember any of your own, you have probably blocked them from your memory due to the apalling shame or embarrassment.
I think this book will be best liked by the young at heart who feverently wish for the exsistance of some 'other' in our lives. But, it can and should be enjoyed by anyone who appreciates fine storytelling. This is the first Graham Joyce novel I have read, but it will be the first of many for me.
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on 5 January 2013
Lots of other people have already left feedback covering how I feel about this book so I'll keep this quite short. I read this years ago and have re-read it a couple of time since. Now that in itself is saying something as I rarely read books more than once. This is a dark book full of the horrors of the night mixed with the confusion of puberty. Is the tooth fairy real or just part of the characters psyche? Who knows, certainly not the boy himself that's for sure. I lent my copy to a friend who made the mistake of reading it in bed just before trying to sleep in an otherwise empty house. She still hasn't forgiven me and had to keep the light on all night. I would say that this is my favourite of Graham Joyce's books but don't let that out you off reading the others.
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