July 2014 Club

The Tooth Fairy

If I'm honest, I picked up Graham Joyce's The Tooth Fairy novel with half a thought that it would be "a bit like" Neil Gaiman's style. How unfair is that, to judge the work of one author on the style of another? And if I'm honest again, I thought I'd made a terrible mistake with this coming-of-age theme and all the graphic content that went with it. But we're all adults, and as the story progressed, I became entranced by Joyce's writing - the ease with which he blurs the lines between reality and fantasy, his character building skills and his heady descriptions of Wistman's Woods.

Set in the 1960s, in a world of The Yardbirds, Melody Maker and the Midsummer Queen beauty competition, The Tooth Fairy tells the story of Sam and his friends,Terry and Clive, growing up on the outskirts of a Midlands town in England.

The novel starts with ill-fated Terry getting his toes bitten off by a ferocious pike that lurks ominously at the bottom of a pond - a pretty horrific initiation into the gruesome power of nature.

Then one night, when Sam loses his first tooth, he wakes up to see the Tooth Fairy in his room. Not a glittery, sweet-smelling, delicate tooth fairy with gossamer wings - this is a grotesque, foul-mouthed, predatory, volatile creature with sharp pointed teeth and unfortunately, because Sam has seen it, he cannot unsee it, and the Tooth Fairy remains a malignant influence in his life from that moment.

When bad things happen in his life, Sam blames the Tooth Fairy. His mother sends him to the marvellously portrayed jaded Scottish psychologist called Skelton. Is the Tooth Fairy an imaginary friend who has got out of hand? Is it Sam's paranoia? But how do you explain that other people are hearing and seeing the Tooth Fairy? Skelton's convinced that Sam will be cured if he loses his virginity!

Ultimately, Joyce cleverly maintains the ambiguity as to whether the Tooth Fairy is real or not. And ultimately, it doesn't matter. What matters is that Sam has witnessed how violent, beautiful and dangerous the world can be - and he's travelled the murky depths of his own mind.

Colourway inspiration

So much colour to choose from. The description of the woods in all seasons is eerily beautiful.

Trumpet Flower

For the semi-solid colourway, I went for the purple of the trumpet-like carrion flower. I took a mid-purple and overdyed it with a darker purple to give the colour some depth.

Tooth Fairy

For the variegated colourway, I wanted something to represent the surrealistic nature of the book so went for the dark purple and added damson, moss green and mustard. Damsons are mentioned throughout and the Tooth Fairy is said to wear stripy green and mustard tights. I choose a moss green to reflect the moss in the woods.

The sheen of Flockly - BFL/cashmere/silk - was perfect for the deep, rich colours I wanted to capture.