So having read (and loved) the very weird ‘Among Others’, I went straight on to read another of Jo Walton’s books, which is, if that’s possible, even weirder. Imagine a Victorian melodrama, complete with disgraced virgins, wives who die in childbirth, a rigidly structured class system with hints of radical reform, and a focus on proper behaviour and keeping up appearances. And now imagine it populated with dragons, and there you have ‘Tooth and Claw’.
This is one of those off-the-wall ideas that must have looked brilliant in outline. Make some general points about civilisation and gender roles and class and race, while covering everything with a fantasy veneer. And to some extent it worked. I galloped through the book to find out how it all turned out, anyway.
But somehow it never quite felt right. No matter how many times the author wrote ‘claw’ for hands, and had the dragons sitting on their haunches, they never quite felt like dragons, to me. Nor did they feel like substitute people. To be honest, the characters never truly came to life for me, and I never became so immersed in the story that I could forget the uneasy juxtaposition of human traits with dragon ones. The author had thought everything through and the details were all there, but for me it was all just too weird for words. Three stars.