Book Review by Mel: Taste of Marrow, by Sarah Gailey

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taste of marrow sarah gailey

Taste of Marrow, by Sarah Gailey
Series: River of Teeth, Book Two
Release Date: September 12, 2017

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars


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.

Bisexual/Pansexual Characters
Non-binary Character
People of Color
Fat Character
Multiple Character Cast
Alternate History
M/NB Pairing

Content Warning for:
Child Abduction (non-violent, off-page)
Violence, Death, Blood

Review by Mel

Taste of Marrow has nearly no hippos. I’m not sure you need to read it. *pouts*

Maybe I went into this with too high expectations? I adored the first book River of Teeth but talk about being underwhelmed and disappointed…

The first half of the book is really more or less boring and is completely missing the charm of the first installment in the series. While the first book appealed very much by introducing the characters and setting and the adorable interactions with the hippos, this one drags along and I think the characters have lost their charm as well. Especially Houndstooth is like batshit crazy and behaving as he does, I didn’t expect him to  be able to find Hero.

Then at about 50% it suddenly feels like there is a jump in time and place—I can’t even tell for sure but I wondered where they were and WHY they just turned up at the same place Hero and Adelia were staying. Maybe it does make sense but this whole episode was at least too rushed and like it came out of nowhere.

In addition to this confusing plot development, the characters and their relationships feel off to me in parts as well. While I think Adelia is a great and profound character, I think Hero is rather one-dimensional in comparison. I really like them, but I don’t buy that they was/is a murderer, for example. Then, Archie and Carter are not convincing in their romance. There isn’t enough page time for them and what I could glimpse definitely didn’t read promising. Oh well, maybe it’s not supposed to be convincing? And Hero and Houndstooth… they are sweet together and I want them to be happy, kinda, but, meh, I don’t think they are a good fit. (Also Houndstooth is a dick. Not sure I think he deserves Hero.)

I want to stress that I really like Adelia, though. She is smart, a fighter and shows character growth. I hope she gets a happily ever after. She made the book for me and was the reason I finished reading it.

Concerning the (mostly missing hippos), I am peeved out that we still have no explanation for the feral hippos and I also can’t really figure them out myself. They seem to be too feral to think straight for the most part, but then they turn up places and even seem somehow cunning. Weird.

After this less than stellar reading experience, I am not sure I want to continue with the series. The setting is still cool (Alternate Hippo Wild West—Hello!), but not enough information is given so that many things remain superficial. The characters are kinda cool (I loved them in the first book), but now I think they are also hard to understand. And I do not think that this is on purpose :-/

Unlike the first book, this one isn’t as violent and gory—which I do not mind—but it is also less suspenseful, which is a pity. There is some action, but I can’t get to the bottom of motives, which, unfortunately, results in me not caring about the outcome. I think that was already a little bit the case in the first book, but I had thought this installment was gonna give more insight into everything, fill the holes. However, it did even less of a good job.

So, this was disappointing on the whole, since I was expecting something awesome after the first book but didn’t get it.


What about them hippos, huh?


Hugo and Campbell finalist SARAH GAILEY came onto the scene in 2015 and has since become one of the sharpest, funniest voices in pop culture online. She is a regular contributor for multiple websites, including Her nonfiction has appeared in Mashable and The Boston Globe, and her fiction has been published internationally. She has a novel forthcoming from Tor Books in Spring 2019. She lives in Oakland, California.

Goodreads I Twitter I Author Website

You can purchase Taste of Marrow from:
Barnes & Noble

Or add it to Goodreads

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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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