By: Sarah Gailey
Release Date: September 12, 2018
Series: River of Teeth
I haven’t had quite this much fun with a series in a very long time. There is something inherently wonderful about a cast of flawed characters traipsing about in hippo infested waters of the American South. Today we are going to take a look at Taste of Marrow by Sarah Gailey, the second novella in the River of Teeth series.
This story picks up two months after the conclusion of River of Teeth. The characters who survived book one are split into two – Adelia and Hero in one place and Archie and Houndstooth in another. A lot of themes are touched up on this novella. There are discussions on love and what you must give up or not give up for love. Friendship, family, companionship.
While the first volume had the feel of a high stakes caper, this one is very different. This is the aftermath, a story of people who are trying to cope with what has happened, trying to find their beloveds, and move forward. There is a lot of emotion in this book, and the stakes are just as high but in a much different way.
A lot of characters are pushed to their absolute limit – sometimes mentally, sometimes physically. Loved ones are torn apart. Arguments erupt. Feral hippos are still on the loose. And I loved every second of it.
The shifting point of view from the first novella continues in this one. This technique is used extremely well within the context of the story. Unlike the first volume, we don’t hear from Houndstooth’s point of view until nearly halfway through. While Houndstooth is my favorite character, I wasn’t disappointed by this. Houndstooth is completely devastated when the book opens. Hero is missing – possibly kidnapped by Adelia, possibly dead. Houndstooth hovers between heartbroken dedication and obsession. He is in a very bad place, not paying attention to basic daily tasks like eating meals, shaving, and sleeping. The feeling of Houndstooth being on the cusp of something he won’t recover from is heightened by not hearing events told from his voice. At the time, he couldn’t. There was nothing but him and his work with nothing else to narrate, no room or ability for a look at the bigger picture.
Characters grow in this novella, and in ways I largely didn’t foresee. Ways I expected characters to change and plot points I expected to happen based on reading the first volume largely didn’t come to pass. The revenge and steady anger I expected Houndstooth to move forward with were something different entirely. Adelia became a character I enjoyed but found a bit more on the expected almost-trope side to a complex woman whose strength I admired, even if I didn’t agree with all of her choices. Hero is an amazing human whose empathy stretches much farther than my own. And Archie? Well, I think she’s made my top five favorite characters of the year list. I mean, how can you not love Archie?
Taste of Marrow by Sarah Gailey is a fantastic conclusion to this series. If you haven’t read A River of Teeth, definitely make sure you do before getting into this one. This isn’t a series where subsequent stories can stand on their own. This series is fun and touches on some great themes, so I do highly recommend it.
You like alternate history stories; You like stories about flawed characters
Don't Read If:
You'd rather more hippo hunting and less emotional trauma