True story: In 1910, the United States was suffering from a meat shortage. In addition, an invasive plant, the water hyacinth, was choking U.S. waterways and hindering transportation. A bold idea was presented to Congress to import hippos from Africa and raise them in the bayous of Louisiana. The Hippos would eat the water hyacinths and people would eat the hippos. Win-Win. It wasn’t until someone pointed out that hippos are extremely dangerous, that the idea was scrapped.
But what if the U.S. had gone ahead with this plan? Now, stay with me. In Sarah Gailey’s novel, River of Teeth, hippo farming is a part of the U.S. economy, and “hoppers” (i.e. cowboys) ride hippos instead of horses. A lake in Louisiana has been overtaken by feral hippos, making it extremely dangerous. Winslow Houndstooth, a hopper, has been hired by the U.S. government to clear the lake of the feral hippos. He assembles a team of notorious hoppers to do the job, but a powerful riverboat casino owner is out to stop them, resulting in a rollicking adventure.
I know what you’re thinking. This sounds weird. This isn’t something you would read. I felt the same way until I read it. This book reminded me that reading can just be so much fun. A cast of unconventional characters, an exciting, action-packed adventure, and of course, the hippos. It all makes for a quick, fun story that I read in one sitting. The story ends with a big cliffhanger and I can’t wait to read the sequel, Taste of Marrow. Visit the Library catalog to get started with Gailey’s novels, available in both print and digital formats.