River of Teeth

River of Teeth

by Sarah Gailey


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A Finalist for the 2017 Nebula Award for Best Novella

Sarah Gailey's wildfire debut River of Teeth is a rollicking alternate history adventure that Charlie Jane Anders calls "preposterously fun."

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780765395238
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date: 05/23/2017
Series: River of Teeth Series , #1
Pages: 176
Sales rank: 398,447
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.41(d)

About the Author

Hugo and Campbell finalist SARAH GAILEY came onto the scene in 2015 and has since become one of the sharpest, funniest voices in pop culture online. They are a regular contributor for multiple websites, including Tor.com. Their nonfiction has appeared in Mashable and The Boston Globe, and their fiction has been published internationally. They have a novel forthcoming from Tor Books in Spring 2019. They live in Portland, Oregon.

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River of Teeth 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Some alternate history makes one think; some is fun to read. Imagining the Mississippi River full of hippopotami does and is both. River of Teeth is a delightful American swashbuckler.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put it down! The concept is deliciously unique and I loved the characters
Millie_Hennessy More than 1 year ago
This book was so much fun! I don’t want to say too much about the plot because the book is so short. But the story follows Winslow Houndstooth (ok, how awesome is that name?!) and the crew he picks to help him rid an area of the Mississippi of the feral hippos. While hired by the government, Winslow is also using this opportunity to exact revenge upon Travers, the man who runs a casino and makes good use of the ferals surrounding his property (he feeds people to them!) First of all, how cool is this idea!? According to Gailey, this is actually something that was considered by Congress to solve a meat shortage at the time. I’m way into this cowboys-except-on-hippos era America that Gailey created. Feral hippos, hippos that are bred for riders, albino hippos, SO MANY HIPPOS. How many of you have read books that centered around hippos? Because I sure haven’t read any before now and I can’t believe what I’ve been missing. Second, THE CHARACTERS. Winslow is a bisexual, gun-slinging, hippo-riding, incredibly dapper getn and I love him. The culturally colorful crew he gathers is comprised of a non-binary explosions master, a large-and-in-charge French conwoman (who is my second favorite character), a pregnant assassin, and her sharpshooting ex-lover. They’re up against Travers, the quietly menacing owner of the land the gang is set to remove the hippos from, and he’s not afraid to toss someone to the hippos if they cross him. If you’re looking for a fantastic and diverse group of characters (a la Becky Chambers) and a unique setting (think Wild West, but with hippos instead of horses) then I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I can’t wait to get my hands on the next installment and my only complaint is that this was too short! Go read this book!
BillBlume More than 1 year ago
River of Teeth is one of those stories that almost dares the reader to challenge it. Sarah Gailey goes against expectations in so many ways. She's created an American western with hippos. The hippos aren't the most challenging thing for the reader to accept (and the hippos are pretty awesome). Where Sarah Gailey does a great job challenging the reader is with the cast she's assembled. The main character Houndstooth is bisexual and falls in love with a member of his team named Hero. Sarah Gailey never identifies Hero as a man or woman, and even makes it a point within the story in a scene that helps attract Hero to Houndstooth, who very easily falls into the genderless pronouns to refer to Hero. Sarah Gailey never describes Hero in any detail which adds a challenge for the reader to draw a mental image. I'll confess I never could decide how to see Hero, but I mainly imagined Hero as looking similar to Thom Allison who plays Pree on the TV show Killjoys. Hero is a pretty awesome character, and I wish there were more scenes from their point-of-view. The entire cast provides a lot for the reader to enjoy, and any one of them would make for a fun protagonist to read about. Adelia Reyes is easily the most badass character in River of Teeth. Even seven months pregnant, she manages to elude capture multiple times and kicks a lot of ass. She's one of the main reasons I'll gladly go on to read the sequel novella Taste of Marrow. This is a rare case where I wish the story had been longer. River of Teeth is a fast-paced novella, and there were many places where I wanted things to slow a bit to savor what this world has to offer. I think my only real gripe is that the ending doesn't quite give the payoff I expected. Cal is built up in the first part of the story as the main antagonist for Houndstooth, but then Cal is rather lamely discarded and the story tries to transfer Houndstooth's animosity to the real villain Travers. That didn't work for me, undercutting the finale somewhat.
BenT-Gaidin More than 1 year ago
This was a fun alt-history Western full of revenge, treachery, explosions, and feral hippos. It didn't all come together quite as neatly as might be wished, but the idea is interesting enough to forgive it such a minor flaw, and this makes for a good quick afternoon's read.
lauralovesreviewingLT More than 1 year ago
Being a southern gal, I’m always looking for stories set in my neck of the woods. The author did a superb job describing the bayous and the muddy Mississippi. I heard the rising shrill of the cicadas, the buzz of the annoying mosquitoes, and the grunt of alligators. Caught a glimpse of huge alligator gars as they rolled on the surface, while being lulled by the back and forth swaying on top my hippo. Yes, I said hippo. The US Government came up with the idea of importing hippos into Louisiana for a much needed food supply. Sounded like a good idea, but didn’t happen. Except, in this book it did. And now the hippos are feral and eating everything, including humans, making the river a dangerous place. A ragtag group of hippo wranglers enter the swamp to round them up. All is not as it seems. I read somewhere that in Africa more people die from hippo attacks than any other animal. They hide under the water, move at tremendous speeds, and their teeth are gigantic. In this book you have hippos that the wranglers bond with from birth, making them safe to ride, most of the time. Then there’s the feral ones. No one wants to encounter them. When some of these characters come across a feral, it’s bloody mayhem. The characters you meet are varied and odd. One of my favorites is Winslow Houndstooth. He’s usually somber and withdrawn, until you shake his hornets nest. Then he’d as easily kill ya as step on an ant. He’s a charmer and I loved how he could make men preen and blush from his attentions. The writing is haunting, powerful, and visual. Such a superb job for this author’s debut. The good guys aren’t all good and some bad guys aren’t all bad. Action, intrigue, and betrayal keep you glued to the story. And the hippos, I just couldn’t get enough of them. Do I recommend this book? Most definitely. Will I be reading the second book? He!! yes! I own the ebook copy. As soon as both books in the series are available, I'll be buying print copies. My review is voluntarily given.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It started well: the world-building is interesting and fun, especially the information about the different breeds of hippos and what they're used for in the world of the novel. And I'm fine with the culture of an alternate universe having non-gendered characters like Hero, though it seemed odd that all the other characters knew Hero's preferred pronoun. I liked the details in the first few chapters; it implied that there would be a density to the characters, etc., in the rest of the novel. There wasn't. Characters didn't really develop; the plot is paper-thin; I lost a sense of the landscape (really: they're in a swamp. Where are the frogs? What about alligators? And there don't seem to be nearly enough mosquitoes). Conversation was ... boring, possibly because the characters are as thin as the plot. The shocking deaths were shocking, but no one in the book seemed affected by them. For a guy on a boat, the villain was amazingly witless about what he was about to unleash. And--really--if a feral hippo is loosed in a place where it shouldn't be, then why didn't anybody mention this when it attacked? And, Houndstooth. Not nearly as intelligent as I think he was supposed to appear. Yes, he sidesteps some poison (Why is he given it to begin with? Why does it foam?). But he's not so charming that his insistence that he wasn't gathering a team for a "caper," but for an "operation" is amusing the first time or the fiftieth time. And how could he not have figured out much earlier who was behind the destruction of his ranch? I thought he knew, and I wondered all through the book why he acted the way he did. Perhaps his realization at the end was supposed to be a shocking twist, but it really, really wasn't. Toward the end of the novel, the action scenes got confusing and rushed. I couldn't visualize what was going on or where anybody was. And the "rushed" part wasn't a gung-ho gallop through exciting scenes to the exciting climax; it seemed more that the scenes hadn't been thought through: a lot of flat "he did this and the hippos did that," rather than an attempt to engage the emotions of the reader. Love the concept, but this book just didn't work for me.