Taste of Marrow by Sarah Gailey fantasy book reviewsTaste of Marrow by Sarah Gailey fantasy book reviewsTaste of Marrow by Sarah Gailey

In the novella River of Teeth (2017), Sarah Gailey introduced readers to a hard-working crew of miscreants who were hired for an operation (not a caper, mind you), the goal of which was the removal of feral hippopotami living in a portion of the Mississippi Delta. In its sequel novella Taste of Marrow (2017), they’ve been split into two groups by the after-effects of River of Teeth’s explosive conclusion: Adelia Reyes, her infant daughter Ysabel, and Hero Shackleby; and Winslow Houndstooth and Regina “Archie” Archambault. Each group believes the other to be missing and/or dead, along with their beloved hops, and circumstances conspire to bring them all to Baton Rouge, where revelations and revenge await.River of Teeth Book Series

Adelia and Hero have an uneasy partnership, for completely understandable reasons, but are quickly united in purpose once Ysabel is kidnapped and will only be returned if Adelia comes out of her self-imposed retirement from contract killing. The growth of their relationship and mutual respect is deftly handled, and Gailey provides insight from each of them to illuminate how these two former lone wolves benefit from steady companionship.

Their storyline provides the primary impetus for Taste of Marrow while Houndstooth and Archie bring up the rear: he’s trapped in a morass of searching for Hero’s whereabouts while she does her best to stay patient and make sure her friend eats and sleeps. Of the two plots, this was the least developed, and I was confused by the depth of Houndstooth’s obsession over finding Hero, since their relationship in River of Teeth seemed to be built purely on professional interest and physical attraction.

Sarah Gailey

In most aspects, River of Teeth and Taste of Marrow work beautifully as novellas: Gailey is excellent at creating a lush, living world with just a few phrases or details, and that economy of prose serves the short form well, allowing the strongest character elements to take center stage. Her alternate version of the United States is still quite recognizable, though with plenty of welcome changes to societal norms and expectations. When it comes to character development across the board, however, I wish this concept had been fleshed out into a full-length novel, so that the characters could really shine and completely break the molds of their various archetypes.

Taste of Marrow is a little more serious than River of Teeth, but no less fun, and the pair of them are sure to provide hours of excitement and entertainment for any reader. Sarah Gailey is firmly on my authors-to-watch list, and I can’t wait for whatever format and genre she puts her hand to next.

Publication date: September 12, 2017. Campbell finalist Sarah Gailey’s hippo mayhem continues in Taste of Marrow, the sequel to rollicking adventure River of Teeth. 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 dam 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.


  • Jana Nyman

    JANA NYMAN, with us since January 2015, is a freelance copy-editor who has lived all over the United States, but now makes her home in Colorado with her dog and a Wookiee. Jana was exposed to science fiction and fantasy at an early age, watching Star Wars and Star Trek movie marathons with her family and reading works by Robert Heinlein and Ray Bradbury WAY before she was old enough to understand them; thus began a lifelong fascination with what it means to be human. Jana enjoys reading all kinds of books, but her particular favorites are fairy- and folktales (old and new), fantasy involving dragons or other mythological beasties, contemporary science fiction, and superhero fiction. Some of her favorite authors are James Tiptree, Jr., Madeleine L'Engle, Ann Leckie, N.K. Jemisin, and Seanan McGuire.