I first heard about River of Teeth through one of the reading blogs I follow and I bought the novella for the simple reason that the blurb got me. Especially this part:
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.
Feral hippos and hippo wranglers?? What? Talk about an original idea! I was sold. I pre-ordered the book right away - a couple of months ago - and I hardly ever pre-order books.
It was not a wrong decision - I loved it! The characters were original and interesting and bound together in interesting ways. They kept me wanting to read page after page, fascinated and dying to see what they were going to get up to. And the hippos... the HIPPOS! I loved all of them.
The world-building in this tale is intriguing even if it's a bit ... out of whack as per the author's note at the beginning of the book. Who cares... IT WORKS! And the story itself is a rollicking, fun, banter-filled adventure.
And back to the characters. They are a really diverse bunch. Race, colour, creed, sexuality... hell, it's all diverse and not made a big deal of really which works just fine for me. I like when the diversity is just a given in a story and not a plot point. My only real problem was ... well, mechanical? There is a character who is ... gender non-conforming? I think that's the label. Anyway, the character uses the 'they' pronoun. Which is totally fine, but I've discovered that at the age of 60 and having 55 years of reading under my belt, when I read the words 'they' or 'them' or 'their' ... my brain looks for/understands multiple people and a couple if times I had to go back and see if the character was alone or had someone tagged along in the scene. I suppose with more of these types of characters my brain will get used to it, but it was something that impacted me as I read. BTW, I adored the character in question! :)
My only real complaint is that it was too damned short! I wanted a novel, not a novella. Yes, it ended with a cliffhanger of sorts, but not one that made me want to send the ereader for a sail across the room. Still, the characters were so good, the alternate reality so interesting that I wanted a lot more of it. :)
Oh, and look at that lovely cover!
The second book in the duology just went up for preorder today. It's called Taste of Marrow. And yes, I have pre-ordered it.