Review: River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey

River of Teeth
By Sarah Gailey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

River of Teeth marks the debut of Sarah Gailey's long-awaited alt-history feral hippo novella, and it's a good one. Gailey takes the real-life, actually abandoned plans of the United States Congress to launch hippo farming in response to America's meat shortage and runs wild with the premise, crafting an alternate late-1800s Louisiana bayou thick with hippos, hippo farmers, and cowboys riding on hippoback.

At it's core, this story is essentially a western, but instead of horses and run-away cattle, you've got yourself a bevy of hippos, some of them tame, some of them...not so tame, to put it lightly. Ex-hippo farmer Houndstooth has been commissioned by the US government to clear the Mississippi of its feral hippo infestation, and he puts together a motley crew to contend with these orders. Houndstooth, though, is out for revenge, aiming to set his gun-sights on the villain that burned down his hippo farm and destroyed his livelihood.

River of Teeth is a good, fun bit of wild-west action, only set in the muggy swamps and rivers of the south. Houndstooth gets some great moments, as do the supporting players, particularly Hero, the gender-neutral demolitions expert. In a story chock-full of small action set-pieces and betrayals, it's the hippos that are the most captivating for this reader. I do wish this story were longer, though, so that I could have gotten more feral hippo fun, but the second installment's September due date does help soften the blow.

[Note: I received a copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley.]

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Michael Patrick Hicks

Michael Patrick Hicks is the author of the science fiction novels Convergence, an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist, and Emergence. His work has appeared in several anthologies, and he has written for the websites Graphic Novel Reporter and Audiobook Reviewer. In between compulsively buying books and adding titles that he does not have time for to his Netflix queue, he is hard at work on his next story.

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