Thursday, September 14, 2017

Taste of Marrow, by Sarah Gailey

[Tor Novella]
★★☆☆☆ Not Recommended

(Alternate History; River of Teeth) While Adelia and Hero try to rescue Adelia’s kidnapped baby, Archie and Houndstooth try to find Hero. (37,808 words; Time: 2h:06m)

This story picks up where “River of Teeth” left off and it cannot be read without reading that one first. See related articles on

"," by (edited by Justin Landon), published on by .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Pro: The two major plot lines are Adelia recovering her baby and Houndstooth recovering Hero. Both goals are accomplished by the end, and Parish gets his comeuppance. A third thread brings Archie and Carter back together.

Con: A few things make the story hard to suspend disbelief for. First, at the end of the last novella, Adelia had wounded Hero seriously, and by the start of this one story, Hero still doesn’t know why. It therefore makes no sense at all that Hero was trying to help Adelia. This, more than anything else, ruins the story.

A second problem is that all of the action in the story is driven by the actions of Parish, who is a 100% cardboard villain. He’s a young man, and yet he can’t wait for his 78-year-old boss to retire? And when commissioning his assassination, there is exactly one and only one assassin in the whole world he’ll consider hiring—Adelia—even though he has to kidnap her baby to force the issue. And just to make sure Adelia and Hero really hate him, he tells them all about his plans to kill their beloved hippos.

A different kind of problem is that almost nothing happens in the first 2/3 of the story.

Except for Hero and Carter, all of these characters belong in prison, and the story does nothing to make us love them. The scene where Houndstooth tortures a man by partially cutting off his lower lip is particularly gruesome, and it’s not the only scene in the story where torture ends up being a good way to get information out of people.

Finally, the feral hippos are so powerful and destructive that by the end of the story it’s hard to disagree with Parish; they’re a dangerous invasive species and need to be exterminated—quite the opposite of what the protagonists want to accomplish.

A host of minor annoyances add to the problem. For example, there are way too many confusingly similar names for characters and hippos (e.g. Adelia and Acadia), and the French and Spanish are pretty bad.

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Sarah Gailey Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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