Revenge and Hippos: River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey

River of Teeth (2017)
Written by: Sarah Gailey
Genre: Alternate History
Pages: 178 pages
Publisher: Tor.com

Why I Chose This: Hippos. I mean, I heard about this book and the amazing idea of hippos being bred as a meat source, and I was in love with the ridiculousness of it all.

The premise:

In the early 20th Century, the United States government concocted a plan to import hippopotamuses into the marshlands of Louisiana to be bred and slaughtered as an alternative meat source. This is true.

Other true things about hippos: they are savage, they are fast, and their jaws can snap a man in two.

This was a terrible plan.

Contained within this volume 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.

No Spoilers Below.


Discussion: River of Teeth starts with a bang (literally), and the pace keeps up from there. I wasn’t sure I’d like our main hero, Winslow Houndstooth, at first, but very quickly I fell in love with him and the whole ragtag crew he assembles for his caper.

With a very Ocean’s Eleven type plot, the characters are out to deal with feral hippos, but Winslow’s out for more than just the job, he wants revenge. With his crew assembled, he’s taking care of a hippo-sized problem with an explosive plan.

Out of all the characters, I loved Hero the most. Reading an agender/nonbinary character was amazing. As the resident poison and explosion expert, Hero spoke to my rogue-y little heart. I actually loved Hero and Winslow’s interactions so much, I read the book a second time immediately after finishing it for the first time.

What made this book so much fun were the stars of the show, the hippos and the danger they bring. The brutal nature of a hippo attack is not shied away from, and we’re shown again and again the pure power these beasts hold.

Coming in under 200 pages, there are points where the story feels a little rushed and moments when I really wanted more. I really wish this was a full-length novel instead of a novella because I loved all of the characters so much.

In Conclusion: River of Teeth is a hippo-sized caper with a motley crew of experts. It’s a short, fast-paced adventure with teeth.

3 Comments

  • Lane Robins November 8, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    Man, I wanted to love this novella. I really really did. Gailey had me at hippos. And yet…. it was just too short for me. I felt like a whole lot of plotting and a whole lot of characterization and a whole lot of everything was happening off the page and we were just getting the bare tips. I ended up finding it very hard to engage with. I just wanted more space for the story to stretch out. And more about the hippos. 🙂

    Reply
    • Shara White November 8, 2017 at 7:03 pm

      I think there’s at least one sequel…. I’ve not read either though, so I’m out of the loop. 🙂

      Reply
  • Kelly McCarty November 8, 2017 at 11:56 pm

    I remember Steve Irwin (the Crocodile Hunter) saying that the most dangerous thing they ever did on the show was cross a river full of hippos. I can’t think of crazed hippos without thinking of Hungry, Hungry Hippos.

    Reply

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