Werewolves have been a metaphor for the transition of youth to adult since Tony Rivers fell into the clutches of Dr. Alfred Brandon in 1957. The Night Has Teeth returns to that metaphor with a tale of modern shape-shifters fighting a centuries-old battle in the streets of Paris, France.
Connor Lewis is on the trip of a lifetime. Selected to spend his senior year of high school at a prestigious Paris school, he hopes to shed his geeky past and reinvent himself. His host family seems odd to him. Amara doesn’t look much older than he is, and both her dog, Lou, and her boyfriend Arden seems to have a grudge against him. At school, he makes friends, Josh and Madison, Canadian “army brats” who are also at the school on scholarship. Madison leads him into the underground music and social scene of Paris. They visit a hidden nightclub, buried deep in the tunnels under Paris, and Connor is inadvertently bitten by a werewolf. He finds himself pulled between three warring factions, with no idea which of them is telling the truth, or which group he should trust.
Author Kat Kruger creates a plausible origin for the two types of werewolf tropes found in pop culture. Werewolves are either born or bitten. Natural born werewolves transform, at will, into full wolf form, indistinguishable from normal wolves. Humans who are bitten by the born transform into grotesque half-man, half-wolf forms.
I particularly enjoyed the character-driven story. Connor’s first-person account of his experiences is completely engaging. Seeing Paris through his eyes feels natural, without pointless exposition. This leads to my second compliment: The author creates an excellent sense of place in a city that has been used as a stage for centuries. The dialogue is engaging, the story well-paced, and I was never jarred out of the story by poor writing.
Another delight is that the secondary characters have their own emotional arcs. They are just as interesting and integral to the story as Connor. I also appreciate that the choices offered to Connor are never defined in a good vs. evil manner. All major characters have an agenda, and they pursue it with a vengeance.
There were a few sore thumbs that stuck out. I feel the prologue is unnecessary. Getting bitten by, or biting another kid in Kindergarten is a problem, but not that traumatic. I was bitten and scarred by a little boy when I was in Kindergarten, and I barely remember it. It begs the question that is never sufficiently answered in this novel: Did Connor’s parents have a reason to overreact to the bite?
I noticed an issue with consistency. We learn that one of the factions, which appears to consist of bitten werewolves, make and enforce a rule of law for all werewolves. I wonder, why would bloodline werewolves abide by the rules set down by bitten humans? It’s a social order that doesn’t quite work for me. Also, these rules are inconsistent. If biting a human is punished by death, why are characters who bit a human, and there are several of them, merrily walking around, not dead?
I recommend this book for both young adult and adult readers. It’s solid story featuring appealing characters who have a realistic sense of agency and influence over their own lives. The trilogy continues with The Night has Claws and The Night is Found.
We received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect the opinion of the book or the content of the review. This review was originally published at http://www.bookie-monster.com