Book Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5 stars)
Audio Book Rating: ★★★☆☆ (4/5 Stars)
Total Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.25/5 stars)
Most people avoid the swamps. But not the Lemarchands. This is where they have lived for centuries in a house filled with abnormalities and secrets. When Henry goes to visit his uncle and cousin in the Louisiana Swampland, he learns the depths of the Lemarchands secrets. Not only do they have this cool house, but he is a rootcrafter like his relatives before him, tasked to help protect the swamp from unknown beasts and the malicious Cavalier. But after he encounters an odd alligator like beast in the swamp, and his Uncle Jamison gets cursed, he and his cousin, Ren, are tasked to uncover the plot afoot…before it is too late.
A fun story that takes us into the heart of the Louisiana Bayou, the idea of rootcrafting is a unique premise that isn’t often explored. The idea that you can take an ability, a history, or a vision from touching tooth is really interesting! Henry, as the protagonist, uncovers this ability, but while rootcrafters have been in the area for years…with his arrival, the swamp beings to change.
It’s a typical story seen in middle-grade: a twelve-year-old boy discovers he has secret powers, and after being shipped off somewhere against his will (although, Henry is quite excited to spend time with his uncle and cousin), he discovers how to unlock these abilities. There’s nothing revolutionary, but it’s unique setting and magic, entwined with the swamplands, makes it enjoyable on its own.
I have two major hang ups with the story. And while these are my personal hang ups, I don’t think it will hinder children’s enjoyment of the book. For one thing, it was the timeline: Henry arrives in the swamp, a day later his uncle goes missing, and then he learns and becomes pretty proficient in rootcrafting over the course of a few days. This took his cousin, Ren, YEARS to learn. And speaking of Ren, I wish she was more than a resource of information. She has distinguished characteristics – she’s tough, a virtuoso, and a chemist – but when it came to the ultimate battle, she was just sort of…there. She’s two years older than Henry, and while she does get him out of sticky situations, she is reduced to merely an observing role by the end of the book. While this is Henry’s story, and often a protagonist takes central stage, I think showing a bit more about Ren would have helped formalize their relationship more.
Yet, House of Teeth is still a fun book! Children will enjoy, as will parents, and the audio book narrator does a great job giving each character a unique voice. If you need something to entertain a few hours, I recommend checking it out. It’s definitely worth the time.
What’s it about?
There’s more to the swamplands than meets the teeth. In this supernatural tale of magic and mysticism, Henry Lemarchand grew up in Philadelphia knowing very little of his family—his father disappeared when he was young, leaving behind only a strange pouch of animal teeth. When he is sent to the Louisiana bayou to spend the summer with his eccentric uncle and cousin in their decaying ancestral mansion, Henry learns about his family’s supernatural legacy—he is part of a long line of rootcrafters, folks who can absorb the powers and memories of anyone whose teeth they touch. In delving into his family’s strange legends, Henry soon discovers that some secrets bite back, especially in the swamplands. This tale of identity awareness and the need for belonging, is set in a world where everything is not as it seems.