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River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey

March 23, 2018

I love alt-history adventures, and this is a really good one. The whole lifestyle and economy of Hoppers and hippos is fantastic. I'd have liked a longer version where we got to dig deep into the world and characters, but the frantic pace worked really well to force the characters to think on their feet. That's really my only gripe with the story, that I'd have liked to experience more of this alternate world of hippo travel along the Mississippi River. I liked the caper feel of the operation, where each character had a role to play and when things went wrong they had to adapt. I thought the emphasis on nontraditional characters was an interesting twist that both worked and didn't quite work. Archie worked really well she felt fully realized. Houndstooth seemed to back off his darker nature a little as the story went on, but finding love will do that. I really enjoyed the character of Hero and their relationship with Houndstooth felt natural and earned. Hero was a tough character to imagine though since they're gender neutral. It felt like all the other characters I could picture as if they were on the screen, but the ambiguity of Hero left kind of a void that forced me to fill in the blank with a mix of characters. I loved what Gailey did with Hero though, I thought using ambiguous (They,Their) pronouns was an inspired way to describe the character; it was a little confusing in that initial chapter exactly what was going on. Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the hippos. While again I'd have liked to have spent more time with them, I loved the different breeds and how they had their own roles in the group. The villain is very menacing and evil, as many western antagonists wave been. He's a greedy, power hungry, mob boss with feral hippos that Houndstooth has a vendetta against. His character doesn't engender empathy in any way, and doesn't need to since the focus is on our heroes. I had a great time with this one, and I'm definitely looking forward to continuing the adventures with these characters.

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