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The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Maddie’s Library: ‘Such Sharp Teeth’ offers feminist werewolf dream

Protagonist Rory Morris deals with a wolf bite and a strained maternal relationship in Such Sharp Teeth. (Photo courtesy of Goodreads)
Protagonist Rory Morris deals with a wolf bite and a strained maternal relationship in “Such Sharp Teeth.” (Photo courtesy of Goodreads)

When I heard Rachel Harrison’s “Such Sharp Teeth” described as a feminist werewolf novel, the part of me that read “Twilight” at a very formative, far-too-young age was quick to add it to my shopping cart.

The story features Rory Morris, who long ago fled her small town for the big city but has now returned to support her pregnant twin sister, Scarlet. When she is attacked by a supernatural creature while driving home one night, strange things begin to happen — her wound leaks silver blood, her silver necklace burns her skin and she suddenly has intense, insatiable cravings for meat.

Rory is a werewolf. There’s no denying that after her first terrifying, painful transformation under the full moon. The question is what it means for her future — her life in the city, her rekindled relationship with a childhood friend and her bond with her sister, who is not quick to believe Rory’s outlandish tale.

This book was one of my first forays into the sub-genre of body horror, and let me tell you, it is aptly named. Harrison’s story is filled to the brim with grotesque and visceral imagery of Rory’s transformations, and she doesn’t shy away from depicting the effects in all their bone-crushing, teeth-gnashing glory. For me, this added to the effect of the story, but stay away from this one if you just had lunch.

The feminist reading of this book is quite brilliant. The metaphor of Rory’s werewolf transformation as the loss of female bodily agency struck me as one of the most spot-on I’ve seen, from how being violated changes the way you view yourself to the rage that builds when you’re not listened to.

I’m generally a big fan of books about female rage, and this one does not disappoint. There was something so satisfying about seeing a woman with both the full emotional bandwidth to understand her own anger and the brute strength to do something about it.

Harrison simultaneously offers readers this cathartic experience and a nuanced take on guilt, blame and forgiveness. Her wolfish vision of womanhood taps into a deep, almost unspeakable anger that bubbles within the female experience and gives it a voice.

The book is not perfect — many narrative threads fall by the wayside as Rory succumbs more and more to her lupine tendencies. While I don’t think practicality is the most important thing in a werewolf novel, there were a few times that I wondered how everyone around Rory was cool with her scarfing down copious amounts of beef without so much as a raised eyebrow.

Overall, though, “Such Sharp Teeth” surpassed my most stringent expectations for a Halloween read and gave me a new take on an old question: how do you allow yourself to feel your anger without letting it consume you?

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About the Contributor
Madeline Marriott
Madeline Marriott, Editor-in-Chief
Maddie (she/her) is a senior English major with a Government & Law minor. As the Editor-in-Chief, a Mentor Writing Associate, a Senior Student Contributor for Lafayette Communications, a Communications Intern for the Office of Sustainability, co-founder and Vice President of English Club, and a Senior Interviewer for Lafayette Admissions, no writing happens on campus without her knowing about it. Her Google Calendar would make your head spin. She is a die-hard Swiftie and Phillies fan, a collector of tote bags, a builder of a Hay Day empire, and an avid Goodreads and Letterboxd user. She smokes cigars and uses an old-timey typewriter and notepad in the newsroom.

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