Winner of the World Fantasy Award 2004.
A tale of love, money, and family conflict--among dragons. A family deals with the death of their father. A son goes to court for his inheritance. Another son agonises over his father's deathbed confession. One daughter becomes involved in the abolition movement, while another sacrifices herself for her husband.
And everyone in the tale is a dragon, red in tooth and claw.
Here is a world of politics and train stations, of churchmen and family retainers, of courtship and country houses....in which, on the death of an elder, family members gather to eat the body of the deceased. In which the great and the good avail themselves of the privilege of killing and eating the weaker children, which they do with ceremony and relish, growing stronger thereby. You have never read a novel like Tooth and Claw.
It may seem that the last line in the blurb is trying to oversell Tooth and Claw. But after having read it, I can honestly say, that it doesn't. I haven't read anything like this before.
Going in, I was a little bit skeptic of the premise and the romance aspect of the novel, but Walton soon won me over with her beautiful prose, detailed world-building and realistic characters.
I was surprised how much I cared about the characters and their struggles. Who knew I would care about a family of dragons? But these dragons are far more real than some of the human characters in other books I've read. The way Walton depicts their world and presents her characters, it is impossible not to get emotionally invested in the story. I even enjoyed the romance and here Walton proves that romance can be smart instead of clichéd and cheesy.
Tooth and Claw is both funny and suspenseful. It's full of romance and social commentary. It's both imaginative and very realistic in respect to the "real" world. It is definitely character-driven.
The story dragged on at times, but the more suspenseful and dramatic parts more than make up for it.
The ending is perhaps the weakest part of the book, and there are a few arcs that don't get the conclusion they deserve. Nevertheless, I was pleased with how Walton wrapped up the main arcs.
The book came out over a decade ago but for me it was a breath of fresh air. I loved it.