We All Have Teeth by C A Yates

March 4, 2022

Have you ever wondered if fish can sing? Seen bikinis kill? Been curious about whether or not there’ll be any justice at the end of the world, or if dogs are really psychopomps? Don’t worry if you haven’t, because C.A. Yates has already thought about all these things and more. Her debut collection gathers together most of her work with Fox Spirit Books, plus other outlets, and some new and previously unpublished work under one roof… which, admittedly, makes for some strange bedfellows. That’s how we like it though, right?

It’s been a while since I’ve indulged my craving for fiction in the short form. Time to remedy that oversight. Gird your loins people, it’s time to enter the weird and wonderful world of C. A. Yates. This anthology is stuffed to the gunnels with fantastical fiction. Here are some thoughts about just a few of my favourites.

How To Be The Perfect Housewife – Sometimes, when the mood takes me, I have to explore the pitch-black corners of my sense of humour. This darkly comic vision, which reads like a demented episode from Tales of the Unexpected, scratched that particular itch.

A Kick in The HeadIn every anthology there are always stories that you’ll read and think “I could read an entire novel featuring that character”. In this collection, A Kick In The Head did that for me. Trust me, when you meet Maxxie Vickers, you’ll quickly come to realise she is a total badass.

Maggie And the CatAnother gleefully bonkers example of why messing with a loved one will only ever lead to pain. Yates has a keen eye when exploring the dark underbelly of the suburban nightmare.

Shoot To Kill and Can ‘Em Up… –  This quirky little oddity offers us a preppers eye view of the end of the world. Hot lead and pickling are going to be necessary skills come the apocalypse. I might not mention this one to Mrs Cheesecake. She’ll get ideas.

The Flesh Tailor – We all reach a point in life where we need to learn the lesson that there is always someone bigger or badder than yourself. This lesson still holds true even if you are a demon. We all have to learn the hard way that no one messes with Miss Applewhite.

Hit That Perfect Beat, Boy – One of the ways short fiction can excel over its more verbose cousin is the ability to thrust you right into the middle of a situation without any lengthy preamble. Char is in serious trouble, and she has minutes to decide what to do. A quick, punchy tale that hints at a much larger story we are only seeing a single scene of.

The Holy Hour – This is hands down my favourite story of the entire collection.  There is something so intensely personal about it. I’m a huge fan of writing that captures the finer points of the human condition. The Holy Hour is a bittersweet exploration of love and loss. Perhaps I’m nothing more than a soppy old sentimentalist there was something about this that spoke to me. As the kids say*, it got me right in the feels.

And the good news is that there are so many more delights to discover. I’ve barely scratched the surface. I’ve not mentioned Professor Venedictos Von Holinshed and his issues with glamorous extraterrestrial adversaries. Nary a word has passed my lips about deadly fungus, randy flesh-eating pirates, murderous transvestites or the cutthroat world of singing fish. These are the darkest of treats that you’ll have to uncover for yourself.

We All Have Teeth is published by Fox Spirit Books and is available now.

My musical recommendation to accompany this collection had to be something eclectic, something a bit out there. After much pondering, it became increasingly obvious that there was really only one choice. The soundtrack to Sucker Punch is a luxurious, visceral affair. You’ll find everything from the louche vocal stylings of Oscar Isaac channelling Bryan Ferry to a rather beautiful rendition of the trippy classic White Rabbit by Emiliana Torrini. It captures the tone of this collection perfectly. Read one, listen to the other and enjoy yourself twice as much.

*Do the kids even still say this? I fear I may no longer be au fait with the street vernacular. I race towards my certain decrepitude ever faster.


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