Content Warnings: Body horror, medical rape, gore
In the near future, Alpha Beta Pharmaceuticals accidentally unleashes the 00 virus. The virus has varied effects, but in some cases, it causes multiple children to be conceived. Then one zygote consumes the others before birth. These are Chimeras. And one half of their genetic code is the property of ABP. ABP monitors them closely, waiting for the time when one part of the genetic code violently attacks the other, tearing the Chimera apart.
Yaya is one such Chimera, but rather than her body destroying itself, it grows a new consciousness. And teeth. The vagina dentata transforms Yaya’s body and forces her to go on the run to avoid becoming an ABP lab rat. Meanwhile, Magenta, her new ‘self’ is becoming hungry.
Queen of Teeth is engaging throughout, balancing tension-filled action with tender moments of reflection and interpersonal growth. Artfully concealed plot pieces dropped at the beginning return again in a satisfying manner, like a camouflaged Chekov’s Gun. Piper seamlessly blends elements of science fiction, horror, and romance, creating a multifaceted story that never lets up.
Piper’s writing is a solid foundation for a fantastic story. She doesn’t fall into too much exposition, despite a complex world. Her dialogue is light and snappy. There are moments of poetic description. But her best writing is really saved for the scenes of action and body horror. Be warned, the descriptions are graphic and disturbing, so if you are squeamish, you may want to steer clear.
Overall, Queen of Teeth is a fantastic book, an incredible debut novel from Hailey Piper, and well-deserving of its Bram Stoker award (Superior Achievement in a First Novel). If you like body horror, tragic romance, and political commentary in your reads, this is the book for you.