When you're young, in love and undead
Updated: Oct 1, 2021
Baby Teeth by Meg Grehan, Little Island
Baby Teeth is a poignant exploration of coming of age and first love, from the perspective of Immy, a queer young vampire. Although fiction featuring the undead has long been popular, Baby Teeth takes the vampire story to exciting new territory. Meg Grehan has created an intriguing, intricate and original world, haunting characters and a heartbreaking romance, and made this genre her own.
As eerie as it is beautiful, told in the first person and in verse, Baby Teeth feels incredibly immersive. The writing evokes the sensation of being inside Immy’s head, seeing and feeling things exactly as she does. With lots of ambiguity and so much left to the imagination, this is an extraordinarily subjective story and one that each individual reader will experience differently.
Until I got hold of Meg’s earlier books, The Deepest Breath and The Space Between, before starting Baby Teeth, I had never read a novel in verse. Back in July, I devoured all three in just a few days while on holidays, and loved each one. Even though I read Baby Teeth straight after two others by Meg, it still felt entirely fresh and original. It’s quite a departure from her previous work, and unlike anything I’ve read before, even by the same author.
Meg’s talent is striking and all the more impressive considering her own youth and that this is only her third book. Her characters keep secrets, struggle with their identities and with feeling seen and fitting in, and are often at war with themselves, and Meg handles this masterfully. I love how her protagonists seek solace in museums and libraries. Meg communicates the inner monologues and internal battles of young people and adolescents remarkably well. ’As it turns out, no matter how many times you live it, puberty can still feel like it’s ripping the life out of you,’ is one of my favourite lines from Baby Teeth. Like the novel itself, this sentence really got under my skin. Baby Teeth is a truly unique and hypnotic story; I was completely mesmerised by it, as though under the spell of a supernatural being. This is a book you will want to read in one sitting, so make sure you’re comfortable when you begin it.
Look out for an interview with Meg Grehan in Issue 6 of teen and young adult literary journal Paper Lanterns, which releases on 15th September and can be pre-ordered here. Meg will discuss Baby Teeth, the creative process behind her work and her advice for aspiring authors. If you’re a fan of Meg's books or curious about writing in verse, it’s well worth a read.
About the author: Meg Grehan is a young Irish writer, originally from County Louth but now hiding away in Donegal. In 2018, Meg’s debut novel, The Space Between, won the Children’s Books Ireland’s Eilís Dillon Award. The Deepest Breath was shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and won the KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Judges’ Special Award in 2020. Baby Teeth is her third book.
Thanks so much to the lovely people in Little Island for sharing this stunning story with me – all opinions expressed are my own. #sep21newsletter