Flaming Teeth

Garry Kilworth, "Flaming Teeth" in Screams From the Dark, ed. Ellen Datlow (Tor Publishing Group: 2022).

I always appreciate subtly strange stories; it is why I like Aickman and Murakami so much. In "Flaming Teeth," Kilworth gives us a few small signals that the world in which the story is set is not quite the one you and I are familiar with, but it is close enough that you might not notice at first glance. 

The manner in which giants are acknowledged to exist by the world at large is one of the details that makes this world different. The light touch with which this departure is handled works well. This sets up an additional element that makes the story strange; readers come to expect that when characters encounter a monster, part of their shock and horror is them coming to grips with the fact that the thing can exist at all. But a setup that avows the presence of giants subverts that expectation. 

Another strange touch to this particular story is just how nonchalant the shipwrecked characters take to their ordeal of being marooned. A traditional story will acknowledge, if not focus on, the stress of being trapped on an island needing rescue. This story puts that aside, and the characters, by and large, see their predicament as an adventure and nothing to be too worried about.  


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