Darby, Mary Beth and Rhea became friends when their children all started attending Little preschool. Each of the women are trying to redevelop their identities outside of being a parent, while still trying to maintain their respective relationships and households.
As if that weren’t enough, the entire preschool class at Little Academy has developed an odd habit- they crave their mother’s blood. Trying to deal with this medical peculiarity has Darby, Mary Beth and Rhea at odds with each other, but then a teacher’s dead body is discovered stabbed to death and the women only have one another to turn to in order to keep their children safe.
Chandler Baker is the bestselling author of “The Whisper Network” and “The Husbands” and, like its predecessors, “Cutting Teeth” will leave a, ahem, mark. Vampiric children, the struggles of motherhood and a murder all in one entertaining and engaging novel? Leave it to Chandler Baker.
All three protagonists take turns narrating the novel, highlighting their individual perspectives on life and motherhood. As dissimilar as the women are, they are all genuinely likable and relatable in one way or another and I had their back from the first page. The medical conditions that affect (most of) their children is bizarrely original, but yet not so strange that it fails to be believable. Young children literally draining their mothers of blood is not as far-fetched as one would hope.
The novel starts off with a child biting, which slowly becomes a full blown identified “event”, affecting multiple children from one classroom. Then, a teacher is murdered, and the plot switches focus to the police investigation and the personal background of the relatively new primary school teacher. As suspects are highlighted and circumstances are laid out, the reader is pulled into a haunting murder mystery, where anyone could be the culprit. The vampiric children are not the focus of the novel by the time you reach the middle, and, in fact, several chapters go by where they are barely discussed. However, Baker doesn’t forget this unusual plot point and circles back to ensure the reader has full closure. The ending provides complete satisfaction, and Baker ties up all loose ends, leaving no stone unturned or question unanswered.
Baker examines the complexity of female friendships and the expectations of mothers in particular, making “Cutting Teeth” relevant and thought-provoking. Baker leaves room for ample twists and turns, and each chapter left me wanting more. The plot is well-developed and carefully executed, providing a hugely suspenseful and delicious enjoyable story. “Cutting Teeth” is going to bring Baker into the spotlight once again, and the praise is warranted.
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