Novella Review: ‘River of Teeth’ by Sarah Gailey

Guys. Guys! GUYS!

This is totally true, there was actually a bill introduced to import Hippos and let them loose in the swampland of the United States. Because people were concerned with meat shortages… And hopefully to eat a invasive species of plant that had been regretfully introduced. This is completely real and awesome and if anyone wants to know how to get kids into history we need to talk more about shit like this.Β  HIPPOS running wild in the good old U.S. of A.

So why is it that it takes a novella from Sarah Gailey for me to know this story? Of course in her ‘what if’ history of River of Teeth the hippo proposal doesn’t go exactly to plan; a small population broke out and now feral hippos terrorize the southern water ways. I repeat. Feral… Hippos… You know you want to read this already. But in case you are on the fence there are also hippos wranglers riding hippos like the most awesome vaqueros ever, powerful businessmen who throw cheating customers off boats and to the hippos, and a great cast with a heist, nay,Β  operation to pull off.

Lisa: But isn’t that a bit short-sighted? What happens when we’re overrun by lizards?
Skinner: No problem. We simply unleash wave after wave of Chinese needle snakes. They’ll wipe out the lizards.

Though short there are several story-lines packed into this little ditty. Protagonist Houndstooth once watched his dream of hippo ranching (it is not near as corny as it sounds when I write it out) go up in flames. Now he has an operation that will not only allow him to make a decent check but also extract some revenge. Adelia Reyes is a wanted women with a deadly reputation. And Travers is a robber baron through and through, taking full advantage of the hippo situation to build a monopoly on the rivers. Yes that is three major characters in a novella and I have not mentioned several more. I told you, a whole lot is packed in here.

Be prepared to fall in love with Ruby because if you didn’t know you wanted a pet hippo you will soon. Enjoy seeing a diverse cast in a fun adventure without any pandering (What?!, rural southern United States had a diverse cast in real life?). Stay for the possibility of huge explosions and hordes of pissed off hippos.

Another quick and enjoyable read from line up of novellas from Tor.com. And proof that Sarah Gailey is much more than just one of the best people to follow on Twitter.

4 Stars

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33 thoughts on “Novella Review: ‘River of Teeth’ by Sarah Gailey

  1. You’re right, I do want to read it XD Also, I love a good “packed” novella. No meandering around a thousand pages of wilderness πŸ‘

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  2. Feral Hippos! Running to front of line to sign myself up πŸ˜‰ This sounds like a really fun and busy novella. I am a fan of novellas and short stories. They help me stay out of reading funks. How did you discover this though!? I guess I should be visiting Tor.com more often!

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  3. Lol lol! I had to google that. I thought you were lying. I thought that first paragraph was probably the book’s blurb.
    Yes! I want to read it.

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  4. I always knew American history was colourful, but I didn’t realize it also involved hippos! I’ve wanted a pet hippo ever since I saw those PSA commercials about false advertising that talked about house hippos. I’m still peeved that they’re not real.

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      • I love terriers. I used to have two little red heads – Irish Terriers (not setters). Now I have a Lakeland, he looks a bit like a shrunken version of an Airedale. He used to be accompanied by a Fox Terrier called Jack but sadly Jack passed away. I used to regularly meet up with a woman who had a Cairn – is your’s the dark colour – like a sooty black?

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  5. Haha this is the kind of little know history (and creative alternative take on it) that makes my day. Thanks for putting it on my radar – I love hippos! Especially gnarly ones haha.

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