Book Review: Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz

When Rudy's family moves to a strange island in order to heal his brother's cystic fibrosis with magical fish, he befriends a fishboy named Teeth who's even lonelier than he is. But the closer he gets to Teeth, and the more truth he finds out, the more complicated his life gets.

Book Review: Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz | reading, books, book reviews, paranormal/urban fantasy, lgbt+, mermen
Title: Teeth
Pages: 290
My Rating: 4 Stars
More Info: Goodreads, Amazon, Publisher


I can’t remember how I stumbled upon this book. Maybe it was the cover that caught my attention since I find it really pretty and am strangely drawn to books with mysterious seaside settings. Maybe it was the simple yet intriguing title. Maybe it was the way the author describes the book as “so magic, so gay, so, so fish.” Now that I’ve read it, I don’t feel like it was very magic or very gay, but it was very fish, so that part was accurate. Whatever it was though, and however it came to my attention, I’m glad I read it because I really liked it.

This was a very different portrayal of merfolk than what you usually see. This was a gritty, bleak, sad portrayal of a lonely merboy rather than the glamorous, fantastical one you usually find. I’m finding I really like gritty portrayals of supernatural creatures. I felt terrible for Teeth though. I won’t spoil all the backstory you find out as you go, but he was stuck living in the ocean at constant risk of drowning since he needed air to breathe, he was the only of his kind, and he was so incredibly lonely.

Then there was Rudy, the main character. His voice was fairly unique. A little bit different. A little bit vulgar. I can’t decide if it felt more contrived or more authentic than a lot of YA books about teenage boys. But it stood out, and I liked that. I also liked that Rudy himself was not perfect. He’d done some pretty crappy things. He could be selfish and reckless and careless. But he loved his brother, and he felt bad for Teeth, and he wanted to do what was right and help them both and just got caught up in the moment sometimes.

This is not what I would call a romance though. The feelings between Rudy and Teeth were more hinted at in their actions, in what they were willing to do for each other, how much time they spent together, rather than something that was explicitly stated. That’s not a bad thing, just something readers might like to know in order to have the right expectations going in.

Tying all of this together was the plot, and I liked how nothing was black-or-white. Like I mentioned above, Rudy got kind of stuck between his brother and Teeth, and helping one meant hurting the other, and he did the best he felt he could, given the circumstances. There was even a point when he thought about how he wasn’t sure what he could’ve or would’ve done differently, and I could understand that. His life on the island was messy and gray, just like real life often is.

Last but not least, I’d say this book is more for mature YA readers as there were a couple heavy and disturbing topics. Trigger/content warnings: *POSSIBLE SPOILER*: Rape (off-screen). Violence (some on-screen, some off). Child abandonment. *END SPOILER*

Overall, this was an unglamorous and somewhat dark take on merfolk, the story and writing were just different and unconventional enough to stand out, and I’m really glad I read it.


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  1. Greg

    I feel like I’ve heard of Hannah Moskowitz but I know I haven’t read her stuff- for some reason she sounds familiar. I think you’re right too, I’m kinda liking the grittier side of supernaturals- not that I read a ton of UF, but just in general. A little more serious take. I love that name too- Teeth- for the merkid. 🙂

    the terrible secrets hinted at in the blurb have me wondering now too- his name IS Teeth, after all.

    1. Kristen Burns

      She does have numerous books. There’s one about fae, maybe you’ve seen that one?

      There are some pretty terrible secrets revealed throughout the book, but Teeth himself isn’t so bad!

  2. Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight

    Oh I DEFINITELY need to read this one! I’d heard it was dark, but I liked the way you explained it- that it’s decidedly NOT glamorous, I feel like I need this in my life! I’d read one of the author’s other books and absolutely loved how unique it was, so I am definitely giving this one a try! Fabulous review!!

  3. Sam@WLABB

    I don’t do well with dark, gritty books, but I am glad this worked for you. If I had seen a book described as “so magic, so gay, so, so fish.”, I would have had to take a closer look.

  4. Aimee (Aimee, Always)

    Ooh I’m very intrigued!! I’ve read one Hannah Moskowitz book in the past, and it was also oddly vulgar, and I LOVED it. I have to put this up my TBR, since I love reading about the dark portrayals of merfolk. Awesome review!

  5. Lola

    It sure sounds like this book has an unique portrayal of merfolk, very different than most books indeed. And that sounds interesting how the romance is more shown than anyone says anything out loud, although I can also see how it’s good to know that beforehand so you don’t go in with the wrong expectations. And that sounds great how it’s nothing is black or white.

    1. Kristen Burns

      It really did! Honestly I would’ve been unsure as to whether the feelings were even romantic or not if the author hadn’t said that. But yeah, that doesn’t make it a negative thing, just something for readers to know. I love complexity in books!

  6. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    So when you read a summary which involves magic fish and a fish boy you can’t help but be a little intrigued. I have to say I like the sound of a darker take on merpeople, especially with how mermaid everything lately is everywhere with multicoloured pastel things and I’m just like, really? I feel like there should be more darker portrayals but this one does sound rough from the trigger warnings. Glad you liked it and it was a new take for you.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Right? Yeah, it’s either glamour merfolk or deadly (possibly still glamorous) merfolk lol. But Teeth was neither of those things. He was… sad. But I liked having such a different take! Thanks!

  7. Olivia-Savannah Roach

    I love a good, different twist on supernatural creatures, which is why darkening them is nice and refreshing sometimes. I am so curious to know about how the main character got into his situation though, because that actually sounds so sad DD: I love reading about merfolk as well, so this actually sounds perfect for me. Maybe not quite a romance, but it still sounds very character driven. Which is my forte 😉

    1. Kristen Burns

      Same! And I feel like it’s hard to find gritty portrayals that still don’t villainize the supernatural. It really was sad and terrible, his whole situation and how it happened and everything. I felt terrible for Teeth! Yes, it was very character-driven 🙂 I feel like maybe you’d like this one?

  8. Wren

    I’ve been interested in gritty supernatural stories. I find that since Twilight, many supernatural and paranormal books have focused more on romance or supernatural hierarchies (like schools for fledgling vampires or angelic ranks). I would like to read more paranormal books that are more mature and I think Teeth looks like something I would enjoy.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I feel like you might like this one, especially if you want something grittier. I get what you mean about so many of them being about romance or hierarchies, but this one was definitely different!