Graham Joyce's The Tooth Fairy is an odd book, but fortunately only partially as Hot Topic goth as the cover would suggest. To get it out of the way, I must tell you there is an actual tooth fairy in the story and she wears striped stockings and military boots, but rather than simply writing dark poetry and toting around hello kitty stuff, she truly is a representation of darkness. She manifests as lust, envy, wrath – all the pains and frustrations of a growing teenage boy, in this case a boy named Sam, living in 1970's?England, who has unwittingly summoned the her as a constant nefarious companion.
It is Sam's story and that of his best friends that is the heart of the novel. At odds with the geeky sci fi elements, Joyce has structured a compelling coming of age story about a group of misfit friends and the harsh realities they face becoming adults. It just so happens that one member of the group has the tooth fairy to call on to save his friends, get the girl, and maybe kill a few people along the way.
There is a lot of questioning of reality; Is she real? Are certain events figments of their imagination? And the book only really falters when it tries to answer all the questions.
For some reason, Joyce's writing struck me as very youthful (in all its positive connotations) so I was surprised to find he is the prolific author of six novels and many short stories. Perhaps he captured the voice of a young man coming of age (not that he himself is by any means ancient) so well because he lived it, growing up himself mining town he describes as?”A gritty, unlovely place. Salt of the earth people, but if you used words of more than two syllables you were instantly suspected of homosexuality.”
A bit schizophrenic in themes and styles, The Tooth Fairy might be a hard sell to people who likes their fiction on way or the other, but is a really enjoyable read for the more open minded.