“Now that she knew the name of the game – Scare Mommy – she should be able to defend herself. But goosebumps rose on her skin, even under the heat of the water, when she thought about her creepy daughter. The whites of her eyes. Her ability to sneak up on her as she slept.”
A battle of wills between mother and daughter reveals the frailty and falsehood of familial bonds in award-winning playwright and filmmaker Zoje Stage’s tense novel of psychological suspense, Baby Teeth.
Afflicted with a chronic debilitating condition, Suzette Jensen knew having children would wreak havoc on her already fragile body. Nevertheless, she brought Hanna into the world, pleased and proud to start a family with her husband Alex. Estranged from her own mother, Suzette is determined to raise her beautiful daughter with the love, care, and support she was denied.
But Hanna proves to be a difficult child. Now seven-years-old, she has yet to utter a word, despite being able to read and write. Defiant and anti-social, she refuses to behave in kindergarten classes, forcing Suzette to homeschool her. Resentful of her mother’s rules and attentions, Hanna lashes out in anger, becoming more aggressive every day. The only time Hanna is truly happy is when she’s with her father. To Alex, she’s willful and precocious but otherwise the perfect little girl, doing what she’s told.
Suzette knows her clever and manipulative daughter doesn’t love her. She can see the hatred and jealousy in her eyes. And as Hanna’s subtle acts of cruelty threaten to tear her and Alex apart, Suzette fears her very life may be in grave danger…
My initial response is to slowly remove my jaw from the floor. This was one of the most intense psychological thrillers that I’ve ever read! Reading a story about a crazy husband, wife, friend or neighbor is one thing. A story about a psychotic child… quite another.
Zoje Stage’s writing is real, raw, super tense and jaw dropping. With every description of a “Hannah episode”, my heart began to race faster! At some points, I had to close the book and take a breath but couldn’t wait to open it back up again!
I can’t imagine experiencing what Suzette went through. My heart broke for her and for Hannah’s loving father, Alex. On the other hand… the foundation of Suzette’s story will make you wonder and Alex’s naïveté will make you cringe! Who do you trust? Was Hannah born with a demonic gene? Is her behavior environmental?
How would you handle living in a house where you fear for your life and constantly have to prove your worst fears?
In summary, this book was on a totally different level of thrilling. It was crazy, crazy, crazy yet, so, so, so fabulously twisted!
5 “bat shit crazy” stars! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Zoje Stage is a writer and former filmmaker. She was a 2008 Fellow in Screenwriting from the New York Foundation of the Arts and a 2012 Emerging Storytellers Fellow from the Independent Filmmaker Project. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Bad Apple is her first novel.