River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey

River of Teeth

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 Americ...

Title:River of Teeth
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:0765395223
Edition Language:English
Number of Pages:121 pages

River of Teeth Reviews

  • Richard

    If you catch my thoughts here on Goodreads you might realize that I almost never give anything one star. I try to always find the good in something and if I manage to at least finish the book, the author accomplished something. But I got halfway through this novella and couldn't finish anymore. I got tired of rolling my eyes. There is no book this year that has a cooler sounding concept than this one: a bayou western set during an alternate history where the gulf is filled with feral, man-eating

    If you catch my thoughts here on Goodreads you might realize that I almost never give anything one star. I try to always find the good in something and if I manage to at least finish the book, the author accomplished something. But I got halfway through this novella and couldn't finish anymore. I got tired of rolling my eyes. There is no book this year that has a cooler sounding concept than this one: a bayou western set during an alternate history where the gulf is filled with feral, man-eating hippos. I mean, come on, how could I resist? But alas, big disappointment.

    The book might appeal to some (or many), but the cutesy, trite approach was not up my alley. For a novella, it felt like it was taking forever to get to the point, spending most of time introducing the characters and trying in vain to make them memorable. I would've loved this if I actually cared about the people, if the interactions weren't terribly awkward and if the attempt to make them memorable didn't turn into useless character quirks. It was kinda like an action/adventure

    with hippos. And to some people, that would sound awesome. But not to me.

    None of it felt sincere at all; I could see right through Gailey's attempts at vivacity and quirk, and the western conventions felt like cartoons rather than anything genuine. Like someone who watched a couple of wild west movies rather than showing a real love for the genre. And the non-binary gender neutral pronoun thing kept taking me out of the story, trying to gather when Gailey was referencing the group or just the character Hero themself. I guess I was hoping for something much more affecting. But to top it all off, I just wanted to get to some damn hippo action already! Is that too much to ask?

    Bummer.

  • ✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)

    RTC. Maybe.

    [

    ]

    Ilona Andrews, this is

  • Kaitlin

    * I was sent this for review by the publisher *

    This novella was excellent rollicking fun. It's a story that when I saw the cover and hear the synopsis, I KNEW I needed it in my life and it definitely didn't disappoint. Not only is the story sharp and witty and non-stop, it also has some of the best representation of non-gendered characters, female protagonists, older characters and more. The only white male character is quickly killed off (yay) and we're left with a cast of pretty great (albeit

    * I was sent this for review by the publisher *

    This novella was excellent rollicking fun. It's a story that when I saw the cover and hear the synopsis, I KNEW I needed it in my life and it definitely didn't disappoint. Not only is the story sharp and witty and non-stop, it also has some of the best representation of non-gendered characters, female protagonists, older characters and more. The only white male character is quickly killed off (yay) and we're left with a cast of pretty great (albeit some are also reckless as can be) cowboy-esque hippo-riding and wrangling characters!

    This is set in a version of America where the marshes and rivers have been overtaken by wild hippos. These hippos were imported and bred as part of a plan to use them to stop the meat shortages, but when it became clear that these were feisty and wild beasts who wouldn't be tamed, they started taking over the waterways.

    The initial appeal of this was always the feral hippos and honestly I'm not much of a wild-west reader at all. I tend to find that the crazy over-enthusiastic and wild stories involving cowboys just bore me, but this story, with hippos as the focus, was the total opposite. I read it in one sitting straight through, chatted to my good friend

    and had a solid adventure of twisty-turny awesomeness :) 4.5*s and I would certainly read more in this series or by this author in future. Highly recommended :D

  • James Lafayette  Tivendale

    I received an advanced copy of River of Teeth via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank Sarah Gailey and Tor.

    River of Teeth is an alternative history/fantasy Western adventure where the cowboys and mercenaries ride hippos instead of horses. Winslow Houndstooth is the main protagonist and he has been assigned a mission by government officials which involves brutal feral man-eating hippos and a shady gangster who runs a canal based gambling empire. For this mission, Ho

    I received an advanced copy of River of Teeth via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank Sarah Gailey and Tor.

    River of Teeth is an alternative history/fantasy Western adventure where the cowboys and mercenaries ride hippos instead of horses. Winslow Houndstooth is the main protagonist and he has been assigned a mission by government officials which involves brutal feral man-eating hippos and a shady gangster who runs a canal based gambling empire. For this mission, Houndstooth is able to assemble his own entourage which includes a chubby con-woman, an ex-best friend sharpshooter, and a deadly assassin.

    This is quite a short tale that took me just over two hours to read. It is a highly ambitious premise and is one that, before picking up this book, I could never have envisaged in my craziest dreams so I have to compliment Gailey's amazing imagination. This alternative America is similar to what could have become a reality as is admirably explained by Gailey in the novella's forward. I won't try to explain as I would dumb the historical influence down compared to how the author presents it but it engaged me from the start.

    Houndstooth's gang are an interesting enough bunch but unfortunately, due to the length of the narrative, they don't really evolve past the brief descriptions I mentioned in the second paragraph. River of Teeth includes a same-sex relationship (Edit-or does it?) Some moments between the couple are sweet and romantic but the relationship itself seemed unlikely to me from the characters initial interactions to where it ultimately leads in a short space of time. Unfortunately, the love depicted seems almost rushed.

    This story is definitely an adult read. There are numerous grim and gruesome scenes from the very beginning, some of which incorporate those deadly feral hippos. There was one moment I found truly grim and upsetting. This alongside other harsh scenes infuses the story with a sense of dread. As well as these murderous beasts, Houndstooth's crew each have their own trained hippo and one of my favourite aspects of this story is the gangs' relationship with their 'steeds', who are even given cute names such as Ruby and Abigail. Furthermore, when our crew go off to complete certain sections of their missions they leave the hippos to play and hang out. Cute. One aspect of the story that confused me was the issue that one of the characters is referred to by everyone as if he is more than one person. 'They tried not to blink.' 'Their name.' I originally thought that he was perhaps schizophrenic but would friends refer to someone who has schizophrenia as 'them' instead of 'him'? The reason for this is not explained which is a shame as it could have made a cool revelation. I may have missed something yet I am usually quite attentive. (Edit - my friend on Goodreads advised this may be a gender-neutral character which is an interesting device and quite common in certain fiction apparently. If this is the case, which after analysing is probable then 1) this is the first book I have read with such a character and 2) what does it say about me that I read this individual as a man that was then involved in a gay relationship when nothing sex descriptive was discussed. Re-evaluating, this is a really interesting concept and I wish it had been more transparant during my initial read instead of leading me to a small degree of confusion.)

    To conclude, I think some of the characters relationships could have been fleshed out a bit more. The finale of the book was brilliant and exhilarating. The book concludes nicely although it poses a few questions regarding what occurs next. This is an enjoyable and exciting hippo-fuelled fantasy western and I will be picking up Taste of Marrow when it is released in September. Not perfect but definitely worth a read.

    James

  • Dan Schwent

    In a world where the US government DID import hippos into the Louisiana swamp to raise for meat in the 1800s, Winslow Houndstooth gets hired for a caper, no, an operation, to get the Hippos out of The Harriet, a vast marsh overrun with feral hippos. Only one member of his crew is a traitor...

    When I read about this on the Facebook, I knew I had to read it. A western with people riding hippos? What's not to like? Anyway, Tor denied me on netgalley but an early birthday present from the esteemed

    In a world where the US government DID import hippos into the Louisiana swamp to raise for meat in the 1800s, Winslow Houndstooth gets hired for a caper, no, an operation, to get the Hippos out of The Harriet, a vast marsh overrun with feral hippos. Only one member of his crew is a traitor...

    When I read about this on the Facebook, I knew I had to read it. A western with people riding hippos? What's not to like? Anyway, Tor denied me on netgalley but an early birthday present from the esteemed

    saved the day.

    Where to start? The book kind of reminds me of the part in The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly when Blondie and Tuco blow up the bridge. Only instead of the desert, it's in the Lousiana swamp. And they're riding hippos. And instead of Clint Eastwood and Eli Wallach, the crew is a bisexual English former hippo rancher, a rotund con woman, a pregnant professional killer, a gambler, and a person of indeterminate gender. And instead of a bridge, they're using explosives to get the hippos out of the Harriet. Huh, I guess it's only superficially like the bridge scene...

    The mistrust among the crew is one of the drivers of the story, along with Houndstooth's quest for vengeance. It would make a great movie. What would you call a western set in the Lousiana swamp? A gumbo western?

    Anyway, it's a lot of fun. While it uses western conventions and a western plot structure, the setting and the characters make it something else entirely. Something I want to read much more of. Good thing the sequel comes out soon. Four out of five stars.

  • Brad

    Reading this because it is a Campbell nom for this year, I'm walking into this as a properly fascinated reader. I mean, it's a western alternative history where hippos are the next big meat and it was ACTUALLY A THING. It might have been a bad idea in the real world, but the concept for a SF novella is pretty spectacular.

    So how did it pan out?

    Well. I like revenge stories as well as anyone and having these big monsters that crunch people with a single bite always makes for great river fiction, bu

    Reading this because it is a Campbell nom for this year, I'm walking into this as a properly fascinated reader. I mean, it's a western alternative history where hippos are the next big meat and it was ACTUALLY A THING. It might have been a bad idea in the real world, but the concept for a SF novella is pretty spectacular.

    So how did it pan out?

    Well. I like revenge stories as well as anyone and having these big monsters that crunch people with a single bite always makes for great river fiction, but I found my attention wandering. I think it might have just been me. The concept is great and the writing is okay, but it just wasn't enough for me to hang my hat on.

    I'm sure others might get more out of this! I DO recommend this highly for anyone who loves the whole Western thing. I think I might not have been in the right mood, unfortunately.

  • Trish

    *sighs* Don't you just hate it when the description of a book shows a story with SO MUCH potential, but as soon as you read it, you just KNOW that it'll never live up to that promised potential?!

    It was like this for me when I heard about this story. An 1890s USA that has introduced hippos into the wild as an alternative meat source - that was even an actual plan of the government (it simply didn't work out in reality). How cool is that?! And look at the pretty awesome cover! In one place, where

    *sighs* Don't you just hate it when the description of a book shows a story with SO MUCH potential, but as soon as you read it, you just KNOW that it'll never live up to that promised potential?!

    It was like this for me when I heard about this story. An 1890s USA that has introduced hippos into the wild as an alternative meat source - that was even an actual plan of the government (it simply didn't work out in reality). How cool is that?! And look at the pretty awesome cover! In one place, where the Mississippi is contained by a gate and dam (Harriet), some feral hippos roam in cooperation with a ruthless business man.

    A band of criminals band together to clear that part of the river of the feral hippos for the US government.

    Amongst the cast are Ruby

    and Rosa

    and I have to say that the hippos really were the main attraction here (not just these two but mainly them). I liked the thought-out world in which there weren't cattle farms but hippo ranches, where hippos were also your transport instead of horses.

    However, that is unfortunately where my positive feelings end.

    The human characters were very flat and the lengthy introduction of where they came from, why they joined the operation, and what their "profession" was just couldn't touch me. I didn't care for any of them.

    Add to that the fact that Hero, one of the gang, was always referred to as "they" and "them" without it ever being explained why (he could have been transgender or gay or whatever, nobody else didn't have a clear gender definition), which gave me the impression the author just wanted to have one of those "in" characters, up-to-date with the most current politically correct cast. *rolls eyes*

    Also, along with Hero's sexuality we had the MC, Houndstooth, who was this strong and self-confident guy with the motto "I'llbanganythingthathasprettyeyes" (regardless of the gender, I guess that is "in style" as well) one second and a teenager-like lovesick puppy the next. Not to mention that this "mastermind" of a leader, who was supposedly oh so intelligent, was actually an incapable imbecile.

    The bad guy, of course, was just as much a cardboard cut-out and uninteresting. Just meh.

    At one point, I was hoping for a nice twist ->

    but, sadly, the author didn't include any great twist and even left that statement open (I doubt it will get important in the next volume).

    I actually can't believe this was nominated for any sort of award. And no, I won't read the sequel as I'm just not interested. *sighs*

    P.S.: Yes, it really did take me this long to finish this novella - because I kept wanting to read other things in between as it just couldn't hold my interest.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Rick Riordan

    I was sold on this novella as soon as I read the premise. Based on an actual idea that was never executed by U.S. government, this book postulates a Wild West-era America in which hippos were introduced to the Mississippi River to be raised as a source of food. Unfortunately, some of these hippos have now gone feral, which means, Houston, we have a hippo problem. The government hires a crack team of hippo wranglers (who also have varied talents as demolition experts, assassins, con women and pis

    I was sold on this novella as soon as I read the premise. Based on an actual idea that was never executed by U.S. government, this book postulates a Wild West-era America in which hippos were introduced to the Mississippi River to be raised as a source of food. Unfortunately, some of these hippos have now gone feral, which means, Houston, we have a hippo problem. The government hires a crack team of hippo wranglers (who also have varied talents as demolition experts, assassins, con women and pistoleers) to clear a large area of the Delta of their mean, man-eating hippo swarms. Alas, as vicious as the hippos are, humans are even worse, and our heroes will encounter lots of opposite on their way to realizing their goal. I like to describe this book as The Magnificent Seven with hippos. It is a rip-roaring read with humor, violence, passion, revenge and a plausible alternate reality, all packed into a very compact story. Bonus points: The cast is wonderfully and refreshingly non-heteronormative, and nobody in this alternate Nineteenth Century blinks an eye. Of course, with man-eating hippos in the water, I guess they have more pressing things to worry about!


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