Imagine an American frontier infested with feral hippos. Sound outlandish? It’s not: the U.S. government once considered hippos for meat production. Only Sarah Gailey could bring this alternate history of America to life with such humor, depth, and vibrant detail, and we’re thrilled to unveil the cover and first excerpt from River of Teeth, her fantastic fiction debut about the hard-living, knife-wielding mercenary cowboys tasked with taking back the Mississippi from the bloodthirsty ferals who have claimed it, out this May from Tor.com Publishing.
Tor.com readers already know and love Sarah Gailey for her series on the women of Harry Potter and smart, original takes on science fiction and fantasy culture like her passionate defense of villainesses. (You may also know from her live tweets about her first viewing of Star Wars: who could forget Space Voldemort?) Sarah is a major talent in the making, and River of Teeth is the fun, fast-paced alternate vision of America you never knew you needed, packed with a diverse cast, romance, betrayal, and of course, man-eating hippo mayhem. River of Teeth is the first in a duology, and the sequel is expected later this year.
See Richard Anderson’s cover and meet one of River of Teeth’s hippo-riding mercenaries in an exclusive excerpt below!
River of Teeth is available May 23rd from Tor.com Publishing. From the catalog copy:
In the early 20th Century, the United States government concocted a plan to import hippopotamuses into the marshlands of Louisiana to be bred and slaughtered as an alternative meat source. This is true.
Other true things about hippos: they are savage, they are fast, and their jaws can snap a man in two.
This was a terrible plan.
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.
Pre-order River of Teeth now at the links below, or from your favorite ebook retailer:
Nobody ever suspects the fat lady.
Regina Archambault walked through the market with her parasol over her shoulder, plucking ripe coinpurses from pockets like fragrant plums from the orchard. Her hat was canted at a saucy angle over her crown of braids. Many of her marks recognized her, the visitor they’d sat next to at church or at a fete. They greeted her by name — and then their gazes slid off her like condensation down the side of a glass.
And she helped herself to whatever she deemed that they didn’t have a use for. Rings, watches, wallets, purses — the peacock feather from the back of a particularly lovely bonnet. They never seemed to suspect that a woman whose dresses were custom-made to fit over her broad body would have nimble fingers. That she would be able to slip past them without drawing attention.
“Archie! Oh, Archie, you dropped your handkerchief!” A young gentleman in a beautifully felted bowler hat ran after her with a flutter of pink clutched in his outstretched hand.
“Now, Aaron,” she said, archly but in low enough tones that they would not be overheard. “You know full well that is not my ‘andkerchief. I did see one just like it for sale in the general store, though.” Aaron flushed, and he smoothed his downy moustache with a nervous forefinger. Archie stepped with him into the entrance of an alleyway, where they could be away from prying eyes.
“Well, Archie — that is, Miss Archambault — that is — I just supposed that I might –”
Archie reached out her hand and took the handkerchief. “Aaron, mon amour — you know we must’n’t let anyone see us together like this. Why, think how they’d talk.” Her fingers rested on his for a moment as she took the little scrap of pink from him.
He leaned toward her. “Archie, I have to talk to you about our plan, I think my parents suspect something, and I won’t be able to get away tonight after all.”
His father, the stern patriarch of the wealthiest family in New Orleans, certainly did suspect something — he suspected quite a bit, if he’d read the anonymous letter Archie had sent him. She pressed the pink handkerchief to her lips and summoned tears to her eyes — just enough to brim prettily. “Oh, mon ciel étoilé, but I must go first thing tomorrow! And you must come with me, and we must buy the tickets this evening! I suppose — you’ll just have to give the money for the train tickets to me, and I’ll buy them, and I’ll — I’ll ‘ide one in the knot in our tree, for you to collect when you can join me. You will join me, won’t you, mon amour? You… you remember the tree I’m talking about?” She dabbed delicately at her eyes with the handkerchief and fluttered her lashes at him.
“Oh, yes, Archie, I — I remember. How could I forget where we–” If he was any pinker he’d be a petunia. He pulled an envelope from his vest pocket and pressed it into her hands, looking over both of his shoulders as he did so. “Here’s the money for the train, and… I’ll see you at the station, then?”
Archie pressed the handkerchief to her eyes again, so he wouldn’t see her roll them at his hamfisted attempt at stealth. “A kiss, Aaron. For luck.” She kissed him hard — a better kiss than the boy would likely ever get again in his life. She kissed him thoroughly enough that he wouldn’t notice her fingers dancing through his pockets.
“I’ll see you at the train station in two days, my love.”
She waved her handkerchief at him as he crept out of the alley, and she tucked the fat envelope of cash into her reticule. The poor little overripe peach of a boy — she marvelled at the way he walked, with the confidence of someone who’s never been hungry or cold or heartbroken before in his life. When he was out of sight, she examined his pocketwatch. A fine piece — it would fetch a fine price. Just fine.
Excerpted from River of Teeth © Sarah Gailey, 2017