This pair of novellas is much better to read as a single novel. The first introduces the premise of a 19th-century alternative version of America, where hippos are ranched and some live feral in the Mississipi river.
River of Teeth follows a plot where former Hippo rancher Winslow Houndstooth recruits a party of outlaw misfits to run a job for a federal agent. The job in question is blowing a dam to destroy an artificial lake that has become infested with bloodthirsty feral hippos.
Revenge and betrayal but also new found relationships mark the first novella. However, the calamitous events at the end of the novella feel rushed and it comes crashing to an end before we’ve really engaged with the characters.
The plot of the second novella seems ostensibly simpler. Houndstooth is looking for his lover Hero after they were separated at the end of River of Teeth. Yet this is when the story as a whole really begins to hang together. The characters pop out into three dimensions and leave their hastily drawn versions behind. Overall, the second is a more satisfying read, it assumes the readers have immersed themselves in the premises of this familiar yet utterly different 19th century America and just lets the current of the events take their course.
Submerge yourself into the story let your disbelief float away and then let the prepostorous menace of the book drag you under…