House of Teeth by Dan Jolley
Updated: Nov 18, 2020
Publisher/date: Amazon Original
Genre: Kid's Fantasy
Rating: MG (protagonist is 12, but my 7 and 5 year olds loved it, though they did say it was a little scary in parts.)
Henry lives with his mom and stepdad in Philidelphia. But when his daredevil tendencies get him into trouble, his mom sends him to spend some time with his Uncle Jameson and Cousin Ren in the swamplands of Louisiana. Because daredevil is in his blood. Why? Because he's a Lemarchand, a long line of rootcrafters - magic users who derive their power from teeth. They wear animal teeth and prick themselves to gain that animal's powers.
And they have a family mission. To contain the Cavalier, the brother of the original Lemarchand, who drank from the fountain of youth and tried to use his power to take over the swamp, and then the world. But the Cavalier isn't alone in the swamp. The Lemarchands also have other foes to contend with, from the mosquitoes and alligators and the famous Rougarou (the swamp version of a werewolf,) to the local townspeople who have been long suspicious of the family. And don't forget the faceless, swamp demons who are after the Lemarchands, they just don't know why.
This was one of my free Audible originals for the month, and I chose it for my kids. They absolutely adored it, and I loved it too. It's fast moving enough to keep them entertained, and just the right amount of scary to be interesting but not give them nightmares! Not to mention not too long to lose their attention. Every time we got into the car they begged for me to turn it on!
Henry, 12, and his cousin Ren, were likeable and brave, with enough childish decisions and belief in their own invincibility to be believable. Often in books like this, young adventurers don't have adventures without disregarding the advice of adults. Not really the best lesson for your young adventurer. But in this story, the kids have lots of adventures, make missteps, and regret not listening to advice later. It's fun AND educational! I love a good moral of the story.
My 7 year old said that Henry is his favorite, though Marabella (a giant mystical alligator) was a close second. His favorite part of the book was of course about Marabella, but I don't want to spoil it for you!
5 Stars, I hope this is the first in a series because it was fun!