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River of Teeth #2

Taste of Marrow

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A few months ago, Winslow Houndstooth put together the damnedest crew of outlaws, assassins, cons, and saboteurs on either side of the Harriet for a history-changing caper. Together they conspired to blow the damn that choked the Mississippi and funnel the hordes of feral hippos contained within downriver, to finally give America back its greatest waterway.

Songs are sung of their exploits, many with a haunting refrain: "And not a soul escaped alive."

In the aftermath of the Harriet catastrophe, that crew has scattered to the winds. Some hunt the missing lovers they refuse to believe have died. Others band together to protect a precious infant and a peaceful future. All of them struggle with who they've become after a long life of theft, murder, deception, and general disinterest in the strictures of the law.

192 pages, Kindle Edition

First published September 12, 2017

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Sarah Gailey

94 books3,252 followers

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5 stars
694 (23%)
4 stars
1,270 (43%)
3 stars
794 (27%)
2 stars
147 (5%)
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34 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 523 reviews
Profile Image for Melissa ~ Bantering Books.
204 reviews782 followers
June 21, 2020
3.5 stars

Sarah Gailey did it!

Well . . . kinda sorta.

Gailey definitely steps it up a bit in Taste of Marrow, the final novella in their alternate-history, hippo-laden, River of Teeth duology. The improvement in the writing is almost immediately noticeable -- by the second or third page, in fact.

Marrow is more solid than its predecessor, all the way around. The prose is impressive. The characters are further developed. There is an added emotional element to the story, which was not present AT ALL in River.


All of Gailey's improvements, however, aren't quite enough to get my rating up to a full four stars.

It's partly because this time around, my beloved characters are split up into two separate groups for the majority of the novella. I sorely missed their interactions. It's so much more fun when Houndstooth and the gang are all together.

There are also some pacing problems -- some parts are too slow, while others are too rushed. The rhythm of the story is a tad bit uneven.

In hindsight, I do think that perhaps the entire River of Teeth story arc would've worked better if both novellas had been written as one full-length novel. Many of the problems I have with the duology could've been resolved if Gailey had just had more space and time to flesh out the story.

But you know what?

Marrow still has a large enough dose of wild, feral-hippo excitement to keep me happy.

And there are enough moments of cute hippo love to warm my animal-lovin' heart.

So, in case you're wondering . . .

Yes . . . I still LOVE hippos.
Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
2,921 reviews10.6k followers
January 9, 2018
In the aftermath of The Harriet operation, the crew is scattered. Hero and Houndstooth think one another dead. Adelia has baby Ysabel to contend with... until she doesn't. All roads lead to Baton Rouge and the gang may find themselves on opposite sides...

This one had been on my wish list since I finished River of Teeth. Fortunately, Richard rode to my rescue on the back of a hippo steed yet again.

Set months after River of Teeth, the gang is scattered to the four winds. Ysabel is kidnapped and Adelia is coerced into heading to Baton Rouge for one last job. Houndstooth and Archie are searching for Adelia and eventually their paths converge.

I was afraid some of the shine might have worn off the penny since River of Teeth but I was wrong. In some ways, the book felt like an extended epilogue of River of Teeth and gave some much needed closure if Sarah Gailey doesn't return to the hippo infested world she's crafted.

At first I was rolling my eyes at Houndstooth and Hero pining for one another so much but I was a believer by the end. Adelia's plight effected me more, though, torn apart by new motherhood and blackmail. Also, who knew your nipples could get infected? The partnership between Adelia and Hero provided my favorite character moments of the book.

The feral hippos continue to fascinate me. I really hope there's another book set in this universe.

Taste of Marrow is the best hippo-strewn gumbo western starring mostly nonheteronormative characters you'll read all year. Four out of five stars.
January 13, 2020

Actual rating: 2.5 stars and a half.

DNF at 72%. Because I'm strong willed like that.

Before I begin what promises to be yet another scintillating review thing, let me quote the blurb for this book, just for kicks:

"Campbell finalist Sarah Gailey's hippo mayhem continues in Taste of Marrow, the sequel to rollicking adventure River of Teeth."

"Mayhem?" "Rolicking?"

Sorry, couldn't help it.

So. Given how delightful I thought book 1 in this series was, I wasn't going to read this one. But: 1/I am a masochist and 2/I am a masochist. QED and stuff.

So. Here we go again with the potentially awesome feral hippos that turned out to be not-so-awesome after all life sucks and stuff.

So. Yes, it is true, this instalment is a considerable slight improvement on the previous one. Considerable Slight being the operative word here. I mean, okay, the writing is much better. And the characters a little more fleshed out. But considering how not fleshed out they were in River of Teeth, that can't really count as an accomplishment and stuff. But anyway.

So. Yes, this is better. And no, I still didn't like it. Because:

It's boring as fish.
As much as I kinda sorta didn't enjoy book 1, at least there was, you know, stuff going on. And action. And a somewhat interesting Caper Plot Type Thing (CPTT™). But here? Not, naught, nothing and a big, fat yawn. The lackluster wanderings of a bunch of sick love puppies, that's what this story is all about. How titillatingly fascinating indeed. Just the kind of stuff I lurves to read about.

I really wonder why anyone would think that.

Oh and by the way, plot holes. You're welcome.

Not a bloody shrimping damn about the characters I gave.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, the characters are better developed here. Not that they're particularly complex, but flatter than a herd of ironing boards they no longer are. That doesn't mean they're interesting, though. Or engaging. Or intriguing. Or refreshingly stimulating. You get the idea? Oh, good.

Also, their behaving like a merry band of emotional saps kinda sorta made me feel like putting a bullet through my lovely little head. Especially Houndstooth. He really is Please Somebody Kill Me Material (PSKMM™) that one. The French chick whose name I've already forgotten is totally forgettable. All I remember about her is that she plays babysitter to King of Sick Love Puppies (KoSLP™) and then frolics around with that totally forgettable (must be contagious) Carter guy. I guess Adelia could have been slightly awesome (she is, after all, supposed to be a supposedly ruthless assassin but she isn't, so she isn't.

Now. About Hero and the Gender Queer/Gender Fluid/Non Binary Character Thing (GQGFNBCT™). I got used to it. It probably helped that I knew what the fish the whole thing was about this time around (which wasn't the case when I read book 1). Still, whenever I came across the now infamous "they" pronoun, I couldn't help wondering who the shrimp all these people the awesomely-named author kept referring to were. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, I'm a slow, thick, boneheaded nitwit. So sue me and stuff. Anyway, the fact that I'm a dimwitted idiot who has trouble adjusting to the New They State of Things (NTSoT™) doesn't change the fact that making Hero a non binary characters adds bloody shrimping nothing to the story. And that, my Little Barnacles, I find a teensy little bit annoying. Because all it does is turn Hero's character into a gimmick. And that is slightly not very cool.

My Nope Nope Nope Dance is pretty hot, huh? I think so, too.

Nearly no bloody shrimping feral hippos.
What a total, complete rip-off. QED and stuff.

» And the moral of this I Might Be Slightly Masochistic but I'm not Completely Suicidal so Off to the Doom and Oblivion Shelf this Series is Crappy Non Review (IMBSMbInCSsOttDaOStSiCNR™) is: my shrimpy advice for those wanting to read this series? Forget about the potentially delicious man-eating hippos and there's a slight chance you might be NOT disappointed. Maybe. Then again maybe not.

· Book 1: River of Teeth ★★

[Pre-review nonsense]

Actual rating: 2.85 and a half stars.

DNF at 72% because:

➽ Full I'm Bloody Fishing Done with this Series for Good Go Me and Stuff Crappy Non Review (IBFDwtSfGGMaSCNR™) to come.
Profile Image for Acqua.
536 reviews189 followers
January 18, 2019
I don't have much to say about this one.

I didn't even dislike it - it's just that I will forget everything about it in a few days, if not hours. It's that forgettable. And the main reason this didn't work for me was the pacing, which was terrible.

Novellas often have pacing problems, that's nothing new; some of them feel like rushed novels and others like watered-down short stories. But Taste of Marrow - or, I have to say, the whole River of Teeth series - takes "bad novella pacing" to a whole new level.
This series doesn't work in this format. There are too many PoVs, too many characters, too many people we're supposed to care about when we barely know them. Every character is flat as a result of this, and everything feels rushed.
The conflict, the passage of time, the interaction between the characters, the romance - all of them, rushed.

The only thing that saves this series is the premise. I mean, it's ucronic fiction about feral hippos in Baton Rouge (yes, it almost happened. Some Americans thought it could be a good idea to import hippos in Louisiana.)
But the premise isn't the book, and while diverse crew deals with the aftermath of a heist in hippo-infested marshlands may sound like the best idea ever, I don't think this is actually worth reading. I liked the hippos, I liked that all main characters are queer and one of them is also non-binary, but I didn't actually like anything about the story. Book one was worth reading out of curiosity. Book two was not.
Profile Image for Montzalee Wittmann.
4,559 reviews2,312 followers
July 22, 2018
Great follow up

Taste of Marrow continues the story of the hop riders (hippo riders) and the plot twists, characters, and feral hippos is an amazing story line! I think this series is great!
Profile Image for Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede.
1,938 reviews788 followers
September 13, 2017
I'm seriously tempted to re-read the first novella in this series after finishing Taste of Marrow. This novella had everything that I hoped River of Teeth would have, a compelling story and characters that I cared for. I had some trouble getting to know and keep apart all the character (and hippos) when I read River of Teeth. But, this time it went fine. So, perhaps it was just me and not the story?

Anyway, this novella is a fast read, a what if story about what would have happened if hippos was imported to the marshlands of Louisiana and the story takes place just a couple of month's after the ending of River of Teeth with Winslow Houndstooth's group split and he's now fearing that Hero is dead and desperately trying to find him/her. Hero (who is traveling with Adelia after she saved his life), on the other hand well, has a problem of his/her (he is mentioned as they during the book which trust me is confusing) own when Adelia's baby is being kidnapped and they have to get her back. And, that leads to new problems. A lot of action during this short novella, just the way I liked it! Btw, you just probably read River of Teeth before reading this one. Much easier to understand what happened and who they all are if one reads the first novella.

Taste of Marrow is great and I'm waiting eagerly for the next installment to be published!

I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a free copy through Netgalley for an honest review!
Profile Image for K.J. Charles.
Author 58 books8,108 followers
September 17, 2017
I loved the first book, a hippo-packed bloody romp with great characters. In this sequel we still have the fantastic characters and murderous feral hippos but the plot's gone awol, at least for the first half. It's basically the characters in two groups hanging around not being able to find each other, which is not dynamic. It all kicks into gear once the plot mechanics start moving, and then lots happens very fast, but it's hard not to feel the structure is underdeveloped and this is really more of a character piece.

Which is not terrible bc I loved spending more time with the characters--in particular I love how Archie's fatness and Hero's nonbinary gender are just there, not made into big deals, conversation points, insults from bad guys etc. And massive kudos to a book that shows breastfeeding as difficult, painful and unpleasant hard work. An assassin with mastitis! Would gleefully read loads more in this world, but I'm hoping the editor applies a heavier hand on plot development next time.
Profile Image for Justine.
1,132 reviews309 followers
September 22, 2017
4.5 stars

An amazing sequel to River of Teeth, A Taste of Marrow deals with the physical and emotional fallout each of the characters must deal with in the aftermath of the devastating events of the first book.

Sarah Gailey shows her true strength as a writer as she explores the emotional depths of her characters with incredible skill and finesse. If you have access to these books on audio, I would definitely recommend listening to them, as the voice acting adds an additional layer to an already rich story.
Profile Image for The Captain.
1,073 reviews372 followers
March 17, 2020
Ahoy there me mateys! So apparently there was a meat shortage in the United States in 1910, so this dude Robert F. Broussard introduced what was known as the "Hippo Bill" or H.R. 23261 to Congress. In it, he proposed to import hippos from Africa and let them loose in Louisiana! These hippos would eat the hyacinth that polluted the swamps and in turn be eaten by the American meat-loving people. Anyone fancy a hippo steak?

Now obviously this did not happen. At least I never saw hippos running around during my time in the South. But the great thing is that this author took the idea of hippos in Louisiana and wrote two novellas in a alternate American timeline of the 1890s about what could have been. And what could have been is this - Yes me hearties, cowboys riding hippos! Or hoppers as they are known.

The first novella follows hopper Winslow Remington Houndstooth as he goes on adventures with fellow mercenary hippo wrangers while on his river horse, Ruby. I don't want to get into the plot because this is one ye must enjoy for yerself. How much did I love it? I finished and immediately paid for and read the sequel. I want more!!! So instead of spoiling the plot, I will give ye five fun interestin' hippo facts:

- the word hippopotamus is from the 1560s, from Latin, from Greek hippopotamos river horse, from hippos horse + potamos river

- "A group of hippos in known as a ‘herd’, ‘pod’, ‘dale’ or ‘bloat’"or school or sieges. I love bloat. Hardy har har!

- Hippos cannot float or swim! (source). They walk on the river bottom.

- The "average female [hippo] weighs around 3,000 lbs. (1,400 kilograms) while males weigh 3,500 to 9,920 lbs. (1,600 to 4,500 kg)."

- The Library of Congress has an awesome site where ye can read actual articles from the newspapers from 1910 about the "Hippo Bill." I had to do a happy hippo dance! No I am sadly not joking.

Hippos are awesome. These novella's are awesome. I suggest ye get them now. Or if ye can wait a little bit, both novellas will be published in a single volume called "American Hippo" in May of 2018. I am glad I didn't wait.

Check out me other reviews at https://thecaptainsquartersblog.wordp...
Profile Image for Richard Derus.
2,888 reviews1,920 followers
January 8, 2018
This quote about sums up the basic operating principle of this follow-up to River of Teeth:
"Alone and lonely ain’t the same thing at all," Hero said, shaking their head.

At the end of River of Teeth, the dramatis personae are forcibly scattered when the caper...do pardon me, operation...reaches a satisfying if not successful conclusion. I say "not successful" because Winslow Houndstooth's carefully planned...operation, all perfectly aboveboard, not a caper at all...for the elimination of feral hippos (HIPPOS!!!) from a section of the Mighty Mississippi goes quite wrong and ends up making the feral hippos problem more widespread.

The opposite of good.

But more to the point of our story here, Winslow's dearly beloved Hero the non-binary munitions and poisons expert, is separated from him. Archie the fat Frenchwoman, Houndstooth's longtime friend and co-caperer, loses contact with Gran the U.S. Marshal that's hunting vanished Adelia the assassin and traitor to their caper...operation...whose interference separates the scooby-group into two pairs. And so our story begins.

It's safe to say that the actual search of the two pairs of conspirators for each other is not the point of the book. It is far more the case that the emotions of the separated lovers are the point. Archie is pining for her big, beautiful lawman, despite the fact that she's a confidence trickster who's given zero apparent thought to how that's going to play out. Houndstooth, her longtime friend, unravels into obsession with his vanished Hero and makes the world around himself into the projection screen of his misery. He tests his friend Archie to and past the breaking point with his rage at the injustice of Hero's disappearance. He takes exactly no notice of Archie's pain in her separation from Gran the lawman.

Adelia and Hero, the second pair of caperers, are left thinking Archie and Houndstooth are dead. They're also the subject of a plot by an unknown bigwig baddie to force assassin Adelia into a murderous plot despite her determination to remain retired from death-dealing. Hero refuses even to think about their beloved Houndstooth, dead in the by-blow of feral hippo killing blasts. They help Adelia with her new baby. They recover from non-fatal but very serious wounds that were dealt them by the aforesaid Adelia. And, all else aside, they stay with Adelia to execute the final stage of the failed caper. Mostly because they need something to do, some action to take in order not to remain still and therefore finally face up to their grief at Houndstooth's loss.

And the spoilery bits are now open.

All is resolved. The unhappy separations are ended. The reveal of the big baddie's identity is quite quickly over and done, along with a condign fate for the rotten asshole. The problem that ignited the entire series...feral hippos in the Mississippi...isn't remotely touched by the plot's hurried and incomplete resolution.

I remain unhappy at the Civil War's insignificance. I'm not going to get happier about it, and I'm not going to get a more completely fleshed out backstory either.


It's $3.99 and it's fun and it's got such promise as a writer's declaration of imagination. Give it a whirl.
August 29, 2019
3.5 stars

Last month I read the first novella in this duology, River of Teeth and loved Gailey's take on an alternate history where the United States imported hippos into the Louisiana marshland to breed as an alternative meat source.
Taste of Marrow picks up a couple of months after River of Teeth in the aftermath of the caper Winslow Houndstooth and his crew attempted to rid the Mississippi of feral hippos.

Readers will be surprised to find Hero with the assassin Adelia who has given birth to a daughter named Ysabel.  As Hero prepares to strike out on their own, believing Houndstooth and Archie are dead, a crew of men appear and steal Ysabel, leaving behind a note from a man named Whelan Parrish advising Adelia travel to Baton Rouge if she wants to see her daughter again.

At the same time, Houndstooth hasn't given up on the hope that Hero is still alive.  Archie contacts Gran Carter, the U.S. Marshal she's fallen for, who is searching for Adelia.  Carter shows up to say he's located both Adelia and Hero and the three head for Baton Rouge.

When the crew is finally reunited, a group of feral hippos arrives to break up the party aboard Parrish's boat.  In the chaos, Hero makes sure Adelia is reunited with Ysabel before she escapes arrest by Carter.  And finally, Hero and Houndstooth are able to ride off into the sunset on their hippos.

I didn't love this second novella as much as the first but there was still some violent hippo action and it was fun to see the crew get a happy ever after!

If you enjoyed River of Teeth and love historical fiction and/or alternate history, definitely pick up this sequel.

For more reviews, visit www.rootsandreads.wordpress.com
Profile Image for Cathy.
1,624 reviews239 followers
September 18, 2017
I like this more than the first book. It is more character driven. The first book was so much set-up, it bugged me. This though gets right into the story. We know the characters and there is more going on with them emotionally.

The plots is pretty simple and the resolution feels a bit rushed. But overall it was a satisfying read. I would pick up another book in this setting.

Apparently Gailey will publish a full length novel with Tor in 2019. So there is that to look forward to.
Profile Image for Lori.
1,452 reviews55.8k followers
January 5, 2020
Sarah's follow up to River of Teeth, with its gender fluid characters and feral, man-eating hippos. A delightfully gory story of what would have happened if America moved forward with hippo farms - breeding them as an alternate source of meet on the riverfronts.

Taste of Marrow picks up where RoT ended, following our main characters Houndstooth and Archie, and Adelia and Hero, from the point where they are forced to separate after the damn broke and the ferals were introduced to the main population.

In this installment, our old friends murder, mayhem, and the sharp tang of revenge drive these two groups towards one another again. (Next verse, same as the first.)

Profile Image for aza.
206 reviews27 followers
April 13, 2023
The continuation of the River of Teeth series picks up shortly where it left off.

The first book was a quick and witty novella that introduced you to the characters and plot right away. In this one, you already know the characters and world so there's the opportunity to add more plot, but this book doesn't do that. The pacing isn't as exciting and the book isn't as engaging as the first.
It was still entertaining though
Profile Image for Jacqie.
1,611 reviews74 followers
July 30, 2018
This didn't go over with me as well as River of Teeth did. I'm actually not sure where the title "Taste of Marrow" comes from, and that is symptomatic of my other issues with the book.

In this book, Houndstooth and Hero are separated and believe one another to probably be dead. Houndstooth is obsessed with finding Hero and is an utter ass to Archie, who has stuck loyally by his side. Why? I don't know. Why is Houndstooth, who was portrayed as a smooth operator at first, so very useless? Hard to say. Why doesn't Archie get fed up with him and take herself off? No idea. Both he and Archie hear voices early in the book, and I had hopes that something supernatural was going on, but that idea petered out without any pay-off.

Hero and Adelia are also holed up together. Hero has forgiven Adelia for sort-of trying to kill them, mostly because they can't seem to figure out another way to handle the situation. The point of the book is to get the characters back together, and there's never really any fear that this won't happen. There's also a kidnapping plot, but the snatched baby is just a McGuffin to get everyone where they are supposed to be.

No tension, and no surprises. This isn't what you want in a heist book.
Profile Image for Mindy.
312 reviews38 followers
October 1, 2017
Actual Rating: 2.5 stars

I rounded up with my rating because of Hippos! I think book 1 and 2 should be read together. Right from the start, the reader is required to be immediately emotionally invested and I just wasn't. It felt like I had to play catch-up with the narration. I love the setting though. It almost makes up for the characters feeling off. The characters themselves are amazing, but to me, seemed overly emotional. Could just be a me problem though. Will still read the next one though, because, well...

cute-baby-hippos-134-59086cdb9f63f__700.jpg (700×442)

2017 MacHalo Challenge: book that celebrates diversity
Profile Image for Hailee.
201 reviews98 followers
April 25, 2018
2.5 stars.

Along the same lines as book one. It was an entertaining enough plot although very simplistic but what brought it down for me was that the actions of one characters seemed a bit ridiculous to me. Again I think the book needed to be a bit longer so everything could be developed a bit further. Still it entertained me for a couple of hours and the concept is so unique.
Profile Image for Bonnie.
1,371 reviews920 followers
September 22, 2017
“And not a soul escaped alive, and not a soul escaped alive, hi-ho hop-whoa! And everybody died.”
Not everybody, asshole, she thought tartly.

The devastation may have been severe, but our ragtag bunch of hoppers did, in fact, survive despite the songs now sung about the Harriet catastrophe. The only problem is, they’ve been split up and remain uncertain about who survived and where they could possibly be. Houndstooth and Adelia remain together and are both searching for lost loves. Archie and Hero have remained together despite Archie’s attempt on Hero’s life. But the explosion at the Harriet changed much more than the situation of the hippo population, it changed the surviving individuals too and their emotional advancement is the primary focus in Taste of Marrow.

‘Alone and lonely ain’t the same thing at all,’ Hero said, shaking their head.”

Taste of Marrow certainly lacked the focus of its predecessor, since its focus was on a group of individuals that had lost their own focus in life. Emotions were all over the place and it often felt like a bit of a scatterbrained read. The heart of this alternate history, the hippo population, took a bit of a back seat to focus more on the hoppers themselves. Also missing was the excitement of the caper/operation. While I felt this was definitely lacking when compared to River of Teeth, it still had its own individual charm and was a satisfying conclusion to the stories of these colorful individuals. Sarah Gailey is definitely one to keep an eye out for.

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Profile Image for Devann.
2,434 reviews134 followers
January 20, 2019
actual rating: 3.5

I didn't enjoy this book quite as much as the first one, I think mostly because the majority of the page time is spent jumping between the two groups of characters as they slowly get closer to meeting up again. For me it definitely lacks the high stakes excitement of the heist in the first book, but it does pick up at the end when all of the characters finally reunite. Also Hero and Houndstooth are just too adorable. If she decides to write another book in this series I hope we get to see them actually being happy together lol
Profile Image for Stephanie.
707 reviews78 followers
March 20, 2019
Needs more hippos tbh

reread March 2019 on audiobook
Profile Image for Mel.
648 reviews78 followers
September 21, 2017
Taste of Marrow has nearly no hippos. I’m not sure you need to read it. *pouts*

Maybe I went into this with too high expectations? I adored the first book, River of Teeth, but talk about being underwhelmed and disappointed…

The first half of the book is really more or less boring and is completely missing the charm of the first installment in the series. While the first book appealed very much by introducing the characters and setting and the adorable interactions with the hippos, this one drags along and I think the characters have lost their charm as well. Especially Houndstooth is like batshit crazy and behaving as he does, I didn’t expect him to be able to find Hero.

Then at about 50% it suddenly feels like there is a jump in time and place—I can’t even tell for sure but I wondered where they were and WHY they just turned up at the same place Hero and Adelia were staying. Maybe it does make sense but this whole episode was at least too rushed and like it came out of nowhere.

In addition to this confusing plot development, the characters and their relationships feel off to me in parts as well. While I think Adelia is a great and profound character, I think Hero is rather one-dimensional in comparison. I really like them, but I don’t buy that they was/is a murderer, for example. Then, Archie and Carter are not convincing in their romance. There isn’t enough page time for them and what I could glimpse definitely didn’t read promising. Oh well, maybe it’s not supposed to be convincing? And Hero and Houndstooth… they are sweet together and I want them to be happy, kinda, but, meh, I don’t think they are a good fit. (Also Houndstooth is a dick. Not sure I think he deserves Hero.)

I want to stress that I really like Adelia, though. She is smart, a fighter and shows character growth. I hope she gets a happily ever after. She made the book for me and was the reason I finished reading it.

Concerning the (mostly missing hippos), I am peeved out that we still have no explanation for the feral hippos and I also can’t really figure them out myself. They seem to be too feral to think straight for the most part, but then they turn up places and even seem somehow cunning. Weird.

After this less than stellar reading experience, I am not sure I want to continue with the series. The setting is still cool (Alternate Hippo Wild West—Hello!), but not enough information is given so that many things remain superficial. The characters are kinda cool (I loved them in the first book), but now I think they are also hard to understand. And I do not think that this is on purpose :-/

Unlike the first book, this one isn’t as violent and gory—which I do not mind—but it is also less suspenseful, which is a pity. There is some action, but I can’t get to the bottom of motives, which, unfortunately, results in me not caring about the outcome. I think that was already a little bit the case in the first book, but I had thought this installment was gonna give more insight into everything, fill the holes. However, it did even less of a good job.

So, this was disappointing on the whole, since I was expecting something awesome after the first book but didn’t get it.


What about them hippos, huh?

Genre: Alternate History, Adventure
Tags: Bisexual/Pansexual Characters, Non-binary Character, People of Color, Fat Character, Multiple Character Cast, M/NB Pairing, Hippos
Content Warning for: Child Abduction (non-violent, off-page), Violence, Death, Blood
Rating: 2.5 stars
Blog: Review for Just Love
Disclosure: ARC for Review
Profile Image for Nicky.
4,138 reviews1,009 followers
November 18, 2017
Received to review; publication date 12th September 2017

Yay! More of Hero!

In a sense, I didn’t like this quite as much as the first story — because there’s a lot of dark stuff going on; Houndstooth is totally blinded in his search for Hero, and he doesn’t mind what he does (or who he does it to) along the way. In parallel, Adelia and Hero have to deal with Adelia’s baby being kidnapped, and Adelia doesn’t mind what she does (or who she does it to) along the way. That does give us some interesting development for Hero, as they try to help Adelia despite their usual tendency to stay in the background and the fact that Adelia tried to kill them. But mostly, I just wanted the old band back together again already.

The end of the book delivers on that, and was pretty much exactly what I wanted. I’d love to see more of these characters, together, with their hippos, and going on capers that don’t involve death, dismemberment, torture and bereavement.

In other words, hi Sarah Gailey, I am 10,000% here for Hero and Houndstooth setting up home, occasionally going on a riverboat to steal some shit or protect some hippos when they get bored.

Reviewed for The Bibliophibian.
Profile Image for iam.
972 reviews130 followers
November 21, 2020
I would die for Hero Shackleby.

Great continuation of River of Teeth that plays with the reader's feelings through a unwilling separation/thinking-the-others-are-dead/almost-meeting-but-then-passing-each-other plot following the events of the previous book.
The stakes were higher than ever, which combined with the above mentioned separation plot made it very exciting to read!
However, I found it a bit weaker than the previous book because it leaves so many questions unanswered. Some new characters appear who clearly have a deeper motive for their actions, yet those are never revealed, along with forgetting about left-over plot threads from book1 that I really wanted to be picked up.

Still an amazing series with a great cast and fantastic worldbuilding, and ultimately a happy ending!

Content warnings include, death by hippo (and other means), a baby is kidnapped, breast infection that is somehow related to breastfeeding, meaning a character spends most of the book sick, violence, mentions of giving birth.
Profile Image for Katie.
139 reviews6 followers
March 4, 2018
The River of Teeth series is way, way more fun than "...what if Westerns were less racist and sexist and homophobic and also had HIPPOS" should be. And that already sounded pretty damn fun! There is rollicking adventure, there is epic romance of all sorts. (Frankly I wanted more of that, there's like whole romance novels here that are IMPLIED!) The main characters are effortlessly varied in outlook, feelings, and demographics, even while fitting into a fairly traditional Western-style group of outlaws who are up to no good. There's a whole lot of hungry, hungry hippos. It's great.

Also is this the only historical adventure novel where one of the main characters gets mastitis? I think it might be. And I SALUTE IT.
Profile Image for Cozy Reading Times.
395 reviews8 followers
April 30, 2022

This was a short little novella that I listened to within a few hours. I don't have much to say about it.

It's the sequel to River of Teeth, together they make up to American Hippo duology.
I still loved all our characters and would literally die for Hero.
The plot was as convoluted as in the first book, but I didn't really mind, as I'm here for the amazing narrator (Peter Berkrot), the lovely banter and all the queerness.

I liked this a little less for the single reason that for the most part of the story, our characters are split into two groups of two (or three if you count the newborn baby) and don't even know wether the others are still alive. I didn't really need this and especially the stress of Houndstooth and Hero being seperated really stressed me out.

It was still fun and I recommend it if you want a bizarre little adventure with hippos and loads of queer rep, that makes you laugh.
Profile Image for Nadine.
171 reviews46 followers
September 25, 2017
When I first heard about River of Teeth, I was so intrigued by the premise and the story concept. I loved the idea of an alternative United States with hippos and the diverse cast of characters was jst great to read about. So of course I was very excited for Taste of Marrow.
In this book we follow our main characters after the events of River of Teeth and I don't want to tell you more because it is only a novella and if this sounds at all interesting to you, you should definitely pick up both River of Teeth and Tase of Marrow.
What I really love about Gailey's writing are her characters. Even though these books are only novellas, Gailey manages to picture them so vividly and you cannot help but care and feel for them. And not only is each individual character uniquely written, their relationships are what makes this even more gripping. Taste of Marrow focuses a lot more on the characters themselves and their relationships than the first book did and that's my main critique point. While I really enjoyed reading about the characters (and, of course, the hippos!), the plot itself didn't live up to River of Teeth.
So if you are someone that loves character driven stories, this sequel is definitely for you! I enjoyed being back with the characters as well, but it just couldn't get to me as book one did.
Profile Image for Liz Jacobs.
Author 3 books81 followers
September 20, 2017
I'm so sad to write this, but this disappointed me. I'm so sad! I still love the characters, but I thought the plot was very much all over place AND non-existent, and it made for an inconsistent, jerky sort of read. The language was just as beautiful and evocative as in the first book, but there was very little cohesion - I think it could have used a hell of a developmental edit to bring all the threads together. I thought the characters were fascinating and compelling as hell, but in the end, it just didn't work for me. Something I'd been looking forward to for almost the whole book fell very flat, and then the book sort of...ended. So. Sadly, not the conclusion I'd have wanted. I think it's still worth a read for sure, and will read more by this author, but it just didn't end up working. SIGH.
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