Taste of Marrow
By Sarah Gailey
Paperback, 186 pages
2017, Tor Books
Taste of Marrow picks up after the events of River of Teeth – the crew is split up, each group thinking the members of the other are deceased. While Winslow beings a frantic search for Hero, refusing to believe his lover is dead, Hero finds themselves roped into a rescue mission/assassination.
I was very excited to be reunited with these characters once more, as well as their foul mouths and a mess of hungry, feral hippos.
I’m going to do my best to make this as spoiler-free as I can, but it’s a sequel that directly follows its predecessor, so I do need to talk about some of the events of the first book. Really, if you haven’t read River of Teeth yet (go read it) and care about staying spoiler free, I’m not sure why you’d want to read a review of the second one.
After the Harriet caper, Winslow and Archie are separated from Hero and Adelia and her newborn, Ysabel. Winslow has been contacting everyone he knows in an attempt to find out if Hero is truly alive or dead and Archie is doing her best to make sure her tortured friend eats and sleeps. Hero and Adelia have an uneasy truce after the events of the first book and bond after her daughter is kidnapped and held for ransom.
The two groups operate in tandem, circling each other in a satisfyingly frustrating way – as the reader, I know they’re so close to discovering each other, yet they keep passing by each other.
I wasn’t a fan of Winslow’s change of personality in this book. He was fairly cool in crisis situations during the first book and while his feelings for Hero were obvious, it didn’t seem like their relationship had evolved enough for him to be such a hot mess after discovering Hero’s possible demise. I wasn’t clear whether or not the two knew each other before they teamed up in the first book, but even if they had, their relationship was new. Winslow becomes an insane, frenzied, maniac, pining for Hero and doing his best to find out whether they are still alive. He’s terrible to Archie, he stops caring about his appearance and general health and he was incredibly annoying to read about. I think that behavior would have annoyed me had the two been together for a decade, but at least it would have made more sense. Winslow’s feelings just seemed way too intense for the relationship that had been established.
Winslow’s personality upheaval gave me a chance to focus my attention on other characters though. We get a bit more depth from Archie and Adelia and Hero as well, I suppose. I find Hero somewhat confusing – they are almost too mellow and a little bland. I’d like to know more about their past and their expertise with poisons and explosions and I think that would liven things up a bit.
As usual, the hippos are friggen awesome. There’s plenty of chomping and death via massive hippo jaws. But, there could have been even more! I’m totally into being freaked out by hippos hungry for flesh (seriously it’s so hard not to just use the phrase “hungry hungry hippos” line every two seconds) and I’m definitely down for creepy swamp vibes.
If you enjoyed River of Teeth, I don’t see why you wouldn’t enjoy Taste of Marrow. I’ve now read all the Sarah Gailey I can get my hands on and I’m very much ready for more!