Recommended Age: 18+
Tags: Diversity, Family, Romance, Magic, Mystery, Sisters
- Mature violence: Descriptions of death, mutilated bodies, abusive relationships, drugs, and gun use.
- Mature language: Swearing, including multiple F bombs, along with verbal abuse.
- Mild sexuality: Some kissing, a mention of rape, and sexist behavior.
“That’s why folks call us vengeance witches, but really, they’re just vengeful people.”
Della comes from a long line of magic users, but when her mother’s spell goes wrong it leaves a mark on the forest. Now Della’s mom is turning into a monster while search parties stomp through the woods, looking for missing girls.
Natasha, sister to one of the missing girls, will do anything to find her sister and pesters Della for help. Della is reluctant but Natasha’s relentless determination spurs things into motion that disturb the calm of the forest… and the dark secrets hidden there.
“What if magic is like anything in life – what if it’s there for the taking, so long as you’re willing to fight for it?”
This is a savage book for savage girls, a beloved (not so) modern genre taking the book world by the storm. The author takes that feeling of being seen as ornamental and perfect and gives it claws. Some people might look at a river and just see a nice view and picture-perfect day, right before stepping into the river and drowning.
Della is strange and unapologetic, observing everyone with a catlike detachment. There is her family and their magical connection to nature, and then there is everyone else. She’s strong willed and willing to do anything for her family, but because they are struggling she shows more vulnerability as she does everything in her power to protect her mother.
Natasha has lost her sister, the person who got her through losing their parents to addiction and adjusting to being adopted. She’s so full of rage: rage at the loss of her sister, rage at her sister’s abusive boyfriend, rage at the police for not doing enough, and just rage at everything in the world that tells girls they are replaceable and not worth the effort. Her anger felt so relatable. Everyone, especially women, has felt this helpless anger at the world for not doing enough or being enough.
But when Natasha meets Della, she learns how to control her anger in a productive way and channel it to destroy her enemies. They are so cute and grumpy together. I love how they behave in a way that would usually make boys uncomfortable (not smiling or apologizing or making everyone happy). They are snarky and sarcastic and don’t so much flirt with danger as flip it off.
This book is full of magic, secrets, grief, anger, and monsters – along with the realization that some monsters come in human form. It’s a beautiful story about girls screaming at the world for pushing them aside, romanticizing their deaths (but only if they’re pretty rich virgins), and telling them what they are worth. The River Has Teeth is a rich story with gorgeous imagery and heartfelt emotions, the perfect feminist tale for fantasy lovers.
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