Synopsis: River of Teeth is an 1890s America that might have been: a bayou overrun by feral hippos and mercenary hippo wranglers from around the globe. It is the story of Winslow Houndstooth and his crew. It is the story of their fortunes. It is the story of his revenge.
Holly: This book was a trip! You’ve got these hungry, hungry hippos (RAWR) who are being imported into the marshes of the Mississippi River for meat production. A portion of them are used as mounts, but then there is an overpopulation happening of murderous rampaging ferals. So then you’ve got this ragtag crew of mercenaries who are most certainly *not* on a caper, who are then called in to help clean up the waterways of these ferals.
It was such a fun & unique adventure story. There were shades of Joe R. Lansdale & Unforgiven, with a completely bonkers (in a good way) alternate history thrown in for good measure.
Corey: Yeah, if you had told me last year that I’d be reading a western featuring an incredibly diverse cast of characters, and *also* packed with man-eating hippo madness…I would have said “Yes, please!” Sarah Gailey is a hell of a writer, and this was a fast-moving and unpredictable story.
Holly: I mean, who knew there was a serious proposal for hippopotamus ranching?! That is BANANAS! But what a glorious idea for a story that was executed splendidly by Sarah Gailey!
Corey: Yeah, that’s such a cool thing to do! Take a completely obscure historical fact and use it as the jump-off point for a totally wild story. Honestly, I loved this. I’d really like to see her expand on this idea in a full length novel. I think the idea is really fun & unique, and the door seems wide open for her to tell more stories in this hippo-infested version of America.
Holly: I cannot wait to see the shenanigans the eclectic crew (Houndstooth! Archie! Adelia! Hero!) get up to in the sequel! You just know things are going to get even crazier. ALL THE HIPPOS!
Corey: I think the remarkable thing is that Gailey is able to give all these characters such distinctive voices in such a short amount of time. They are all coming into this operation (it’s not a caper) with their own unique experiences and motivations. And I absolutely love the fact that the deadliest & most ruthless killer of them all is an extremely pregnant woman. That’s just a badass touch!
Holly: Yes! There is a fantastic villain (or three!) All of these characters are so diverse & bring something to the story. Let’s just talk about how amazing Archie is for a minute – what an incredible character! I think she will be a favorite amongst readers when this is released to the rest of the world, for sure!
It is obvious that Gailey has taken such care with each of these characters. And this is her debut! What an absolute breath of fresh air! Sarah Gailey is definitely a writer to watch!
Corey: All in all, a really entertaining read. Briskly plotted, totally original, and with a very diverse group of characters. I wouldn’t hesitate to buy anything Sarah Gailey wrote going forward!
The Grimdragons Rating: 4 man-eating hippos!
(Thank you to Tor/Forge for providing us with a copy before the release date, in exchange for an honest review!)