192 pages

English language

Published Feb. 16, 2017

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2 stars (1 review)

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.

River of Teeth is a 2017 alternate history novella by Sarah Gailey. It was first published by Tor Books. The cover art is by Richard Anderson.

1 edition

More churn than flow

2 stars

I started on this after reading Gailey’s “Do Hippos Count as Dragons”, the premise was simply too good to pass by. Even if I wasn’t such a sucker for Western steampunk(ish) stories, the idea of feral hippos roaming the Mississippi would have been alluring in its originality.

Unluckily, Gailey’s writing is not up to her ingenious premise. The whole thing reads like a slapdash novelisation of an unmade film script, possibly one for a 1970’s style adventure caper – you know, the kind that used to star James Coburn and hasn’t been made well anymore since Peckinpah passed –, with the operative word being “slapdash”. The writing is peripatetic and superficial, with narrative threads or insights emerging far less often than the eponymous aquatic pachyderms. Add some jarring anachronisms in a world that, for all I can see, is meant to be exactly the US 1890s except for the …