River of Teeth (River of Teeth #1), by Sarah Gailey
Description: (from Macmillan)
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.
Publication date: May 23rd 2017, part of the Spring and Summer 2017 Tor.com Line Up.
A review copy (e-galley) of this book was provided by the publisher. Some things might change in the final copy.
Here is an in-depth post where Sarah Gailey write about the USA that could have been.
I’m always excited about stories dealing with an Alternate history, and I’m also a fan of Heist stories. So, when I saw an alternate history novella involving an heist with a diverse and badass cast of characters come my way: I was overjoyed.
Turns out, I was right to be enthusiastic about River of Teeth because it was A-MAZING. I read it while on the train to and back from Disneyland so I guess this will also be a book that will stay in my memory as one that accompanied me to an awesome place. Even with the excitement from going there, I was captured by the story and my mind was kept enthralled without any difficulty.
From American rivers infested with feral hippos, engaging outlaws, crooks and badasses from everywhere teaming up, romance (between a black non-binary person and a white man) and betrayal, explosions and backstabbing, evil characters that you wish you could punch in the face, this novella had all the things.
The beginning made me think of the one from the Avengers movie, where every part of the crew is being recruited. This takes a bit longer than what I expected but it’s a good way to introduce us to each character on their own.
“Winslow Houndstooth didn’t take the job to be a hero. He took it for the money, and he took it for revenge.”
One thing I loved, is that there was not the token woman of the group like you often find in a crew of characters. There were two women, very different from each other, not particularly being the best of friends but still having friendly chats while riding their fave hippo.
I think my favourite character was Archie, a charming pickpocket/con artist. I highlighted this quote about her that really made me smile : “Nobody ever suspects the fat lady“. You can note that she is pictured on the cover, as the author stated in this great interview that she really wanted her to be!
I’m IN for everything Sarah Gailey will write next (her latest news back in March had me SO excited : If You Had to Solve a Murder at Hogwarts, How Would You Do It? Announcing Sarah Gailey’s Debut Novel)
Sarah Gailey is also the author of the amazing collection of essays on the Women of Harry Potter.
Here is a great review by a genderqueer reviewer.