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The Tooth Fairy
Gollancz paperback £6.99
review by Debbie Moon
It's the 1960s, but the permissive society hasn't yet penetrated to the grimy wastelands on the edge of Coventry. Thoughtful Sam, brainy Clive and down-to-earth Terry are normal lads, amusing themselves with vandalism, dares, and hanging around in the woods. But family tragedy, sexual awakening and the pressure to fit in are already threatening their childhood world.
And Sam thinks he knows the source. The Tooth Fairy. The androgynous creature that comes to him in the night, affectionate yet terrifying, devoted yet swift to attack those he loves. His parents think he's mad, his psychiatrist think he needs to get laid. But Sam knows the Tooth Fairy is real - and sooner or later, one of them will have to destroy the other in order to survive...
This is a welcome reprint for Joyce's 1996 classic, a British Fantasy Award winner and the book that really made his name. It's easy to see why. From the opening chapter, where a quiet moment by the pond erupts into grotesque but utterly believable tragedy, the narrative is heavy with supernatural menace. Adults do inexplicable things, and the things the boys rely on are subverted or destroyed with vindictive regularity. In childhood, where you have no power and no one listens, everyone needs a Tooth Fairy: but how much should you give in to your darker nature?
The boys themselves are portrayed with unsentimental accuracy, from the passions of early childhood to the disorientation of their late teens. Joyce succeeds admirably in showing us society changing around them, without ever losing sight of the small details of their world. This is a gripping piece of storytelling which blends fantasy and reality with masterly skill, and haunts you for a long time afterwards.
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