Wednesday 25 April 2018

Tale Of The Tooth by Allie Rogers @Alliewhowrites Blog Tour @Legend_Press #TaleOfTheTooth

Four-year-old Danny lives with his mother, Natalie, in a small Sussex town. Life is a struggle and when they are threatened with a benefits sanction, salvation appears in the form of a Job Centre employee called Karen. But Karen’s impact is to reach far beyond this one generous gesture, as she and Natalie embark on an intense relationship.  

Told in the voice of an intelligent, passionate and unusual child, Tale of a Tooth is an immersive and compelling look at the impact of domestic abuse on a vulnerable family unit.

Tale of a Tooth by Allie Rogers was published in paperback by Legend Press on 19 April 2018. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review, and who invited me to take part on this Blog Tour.

Last May I read and reviewed Allie Rogers' debut novel; Little Gold here on Random Things. I was totally blown away by Little Gold, so much so that it ended up on my Top Books of the Year list. So, it was with a slight air of trepidation that I made a start on Tale of a Tooth.

Tale of a Tooth is narrated by four-year-old Danny, in his own distinctive voice. There's been something of a glut of novels told through a child's voice lately, and there are some that have been done very well and some that have left me cold. Whilst I will point out the Danny's voice can be a little difficult, it only took me a few pages to tune in to him completely. This author has created a character who shines from the pages, he's as bright as a button, old before his years, highly intelligent, but is still just a little boy. His speech and mannerisms can change quickly, from loving and caring, to angry and shouting; just like any four-year-old.

Danny lives with his single-mother in a damp flat. He calls his mother Meemaw, and apart from his beloved soft toy dinosour Spiney, Meemaw is the centre of is world, and Danny is everything to her.

Allie Rogers gives nothing away about their past. The reader knows nothing about a father figure, or why they live where they do. However, she does release tiny snippets of information throughout the story; we learn that Meemaw's own mother was Spanish, and is now dead. We find out that her father Mick lives by the seaside in a squalid flat, he's pretty useless, but tries his best.

Danny and Meemaw depend on benefits for their peanut butter, their bread, the data on Meemaw's phone and for her rolly tobacco and when they are late for a Job Centre appointment, their benefits are stopped. Enter Karen. Karen works at the Job Centre and pulls a few strings to ensure that they get their money. This is the beginning of what Meemaw hopes will be a new start, a fresh, loving relationship, but what quickly turns toxic. Karen is violent, manipulative, controlling and Danny sees and hears everything that goes on.

Allie Rogers is an incredible author. She portrays this relationship with such colour and strength. Danny's feelings and reactions are wonderfully represented and the use of his voice only adds strength to what is already a powerful story. Paced beautifully, full of angst and horror, along with the pure and unconditional love between a mother and child, this really is a story that will touch hearts and evoke emotions in the reader. 

Domestic violence is a difficult subject to deal with in fiction, and violence within a same-sex relationship is not something I've seen before in a novel. However, this astute and gifted author has treated the subject with care and compassion. There's nothing gratuitous, no overly-violent scenes, it's delicately and conscientiously developed with a tenderness and grace that showcases Allie Rogers's wonderful talent.

Tale of a Tooth is a story that will stay in my heart, with characters that are precious and that the reader really does care for. There's no worries about that 'difficult second novel' for Allie Rogers, this is a triumph. I loved it.

Allie Rogers was born and raised in Brighton and enjoys story in all forms, the magic of a surprising sentence and books that defy categorisation. 

She is a librarian at the University of Brighton. 

Follow Allie on Twitter @alliewhowrites

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