Social Media Icons

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Review: Such a Pretty Smile by Kristi DeMeester

Such a Pretty Smile
by Kristi DeMeester

Thank you St. Martin's Press / NetGalley for this gifted book.

Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publish Date: January 18, 2022
Kindle Edition
320 Pages
Genre: Horror

A biting novel from an electrifying new voice, Such a Pretty Smile is a heart-stopping tour-de-force about powerful women, angry men, and all the ways in which girls fight against the forces that try to silence them.

There’s something out there that’s killing. Known only as The Cur, he leaves no traces, save for the torn bodies of girls, on the verge of becoming women, who are known as trouble-makers; those who refuse to conform, to know their place. Girls who don’t know when to shut up.

2019: Thirteen-year-old Lila Sawyer has secrets she can’t share with anyone. Not the school psychologist she’s seeing. Not her father, who has a new wife, and a new baby. And not her mother—the infamous Caroline Sawyer, a unique artist whose eerie sculptures, made from bent twigs and crimped leaves, have made her a local celebrity. But soon Lila feels haunted from within, terrorized by a delicious evil that shows her how to find her voice—until she is punished for using it.

2004: Caroline Sawyer hears dogs everywhere. Snarling, barking, teeth snapping that no one else seems to notice. At first, she blames the phantom sounds on her insomnia and her acute stress in caring for her ailing father. But then the delusions begin to take shape—both in her waking hours, and in the violent, visceral sculptures she creates while in a trance-like state. Her fiancĂ© is convinced she needs help. Her new psychiatrist waves her “problem” away with pills. But Caroline’s past is a dark cellar, filled with repressed memories and a lurking horror that the men around her can’t understand.

As past demons become a present threat, both Caroline and Lila must chase the source of this unrelenting, oppressive power to its malignant core. Brilliantly paced, unsettling to the bone, and unapologetically fierce, Such a Pretty Smile is a powerful allegory for what it can mean to be a woman, and an untamed rallying cry for anyone ever told to sit down, shut up, and smile pretty.

My Review:

Snarls and fangs and too many teeth - this weird in the best way horror story really bites.  Young girls, staying silent, going crazy, doctors, pills, sculptures, shadows... the vivid imagery played with my imagination's feelings.  I really need to see Caroline's creepy sculptures in person please and thank you.

This story starts in 2019 with Lila, Caroline's daughter and then shoots to the past in 2004 where we see Caroline's past ... how they come together and where the story ends was truly satisfying for me.  I'm not sure what I expected from this story but what I thought was going to happen, didn't, and I'm so glad!

Wooooooow the "men" in this book suck.  Constantly condescending and thinking the girls and women are just being hysterical.  Hey, here's a pill for your problem because YOU'RE the problem.  Now, now, listen to your husband, he knows what is best for you. Blah blah, inert eyeroll an try not to stab them.  /rant

There's a lot to unpack in this story.  Social commentary told in a horror story where girls are being silenced and the changing of the faces of the men around them still define the same type of misogynistic man we run into on the daily.   It's a story of fighting back and finding a way to thrive when everything around you pushes you to be less than.  Sometimes these kinds of stories don't work for me but I was involved with the violence part that it didn't dawn on me until the end and then it punched me in the face. Solid.


1 comment: