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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