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Review: Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton

>>Saturday, November 12, 2011

Title: Tooth and Claw
Author: Jo Walton
Format: Paperback
Pages: 336
Genre: Fantasy
Publication Date: January 6th, 2009
Publisher: Orb Books
Rating: A-

Summary:
From Goodreads: Here is a tale of a family dealing with the death of their father, a son who goes to court for his inheritance, a son who agonizes over his father’s deathbed confession, a daughter who falls in love, a daughter who becomes involved in the abolition movement, and a daughter sacrificing herself for her husband.

Here is what sounds for all the world like an enjoyable Victorian novel, perhaps by Anthony Trollope…except that everyone in the story is a dragon, red in tooth and claw.

Here are politics and train stations, churchmen and family retainers, courtship, and country houses…in which, on the death of an elder, family members gather to eat the body of the deceased. In which society’s high and mighty members avail themselves of the privilege of killing and eating the weaker children, which they do with ceremony and relish, growing stronger thereby.

You have never read a novel like Tooth and Claw.


Why did I read this book? I heard about this book through the Women of Fantasy Book Club. The fact that this is a Victiorian novel featuring all dragons is just too good to pass up. Oh, and it the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel in 2009.

Source: Bought

My Review
Although when it comes to books, I haven't read many Jane Austen's or Victorian novels (I know Jane Austen isn't Victorian), but I do enjoy them and love the type of humor and situations they describe. Anything to do with manners, society, romance. Anyways, this means that on paper this novel would already be enjoyable to me, but the fact that the whole cast of characters are dragons is just icing on the cake. I think this is something really awesome about this novel - I didn't feel like the dragon thing was gimmicky. I would have enjoyed it were they human, but I enjoyed it even more that they were dragons. I thought the world building was clever. I smiled every time a dragon was described sleeping on their gold. Another aspect I enjoyed is that female dragons are gold-ish colored as maidens, but when approached by males (sometimes just being touched by them), they "blush" and turn a rosy pink. At this point they need to be married, and if not, it's a big scandel. I love how this reflected the real world situation of women in the past where they had to remain pure maidens before marriage.

The only negative thing I experienced while reading Tooth and Claw was that for the first one hundred pages or so I felt that the pace was slow and I wasn't totally absorbed into the story yet. This changed after the characters and plot strings were all layed out and then it wasn't long before I'd completely devoured this novel.

Rating: A-
I really loved this book. I wish more books were like this. I love discovering novels that are clever, well-written and just plain unique. The world building is very strong and enables Walton to effortlessly create a Victorian-like world featuring dragons and their societal problems. I also really appreciated the humor. Definitely recommended!

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