The River Has Teeth by Erica Waters
Natasha’s sister is missing.
Her car was found abandoned on the edge of a local nature preserve known as the Bend, but as the case goes cold, Natasha’s loss turns to burning anger.
She’ll do anything to find answers.
Della’s family has channeled magic from the Bend for generations, providing spells for the desperate. But when Natasha appears on her doorstep, Della knows it will take more than simple potions to help her.
But Della has her own secrets to hide.
Because Della thinks she knows the beast who’s responsible for the disappearance — her own mother, who was turned into a terrible monster by magic gone wrong.
Natasha is angry. Della has little to lose.
They are each other’s only hope.
Girls are going missing in the Bend, and both Natasha and Della need answers.
For Natasha, it’s a matter of finding her sister. They’ve been through too much together to be apart now, and even worse, no one seems willing to accept that Ro’s slime-ball boyfriend had something to do with her disappearance.
For Della, it’s about proving that her mother isn’t some wild, uncontrollable beast. That her mother is still in there somewhere, still human even though the river sings its songs through her, bloody and bright.
With no one to trust but one another, Natasha and Della risk everything to find the answers they seek. But what happens when those answers could destroy them? What happens when the magic of the Bend makes itself heard?
Full disclosure: I’m writing this review about a month after reading the book.
A blogging slump has left me fuzzy on some details, so you’ll have to bear with me. It’s exciting that I’m getting to this review at all, to be entirely honest.
Slightly shameful admission aside, what I do remember is that this book is angry. It’s absolutely furious, and it tears at the frustrating helplessness that comes from finding yourself in trouble without a helping hand. No one is willing to believe Natasha in her quest to prove that Ro’s boyfriend had something to do with her sudden disappearance. And Della bears the weight of the Lloyd family on her shoulders alone, her father and cousin unwilling to make a stand, to trust that her mother might not be the culprit behind all the missing girls as of late.
In all their anger, Natasha and Della find one another, and find their secrets spilling out. I love the way they shift from cold wariness to this furious trust that leaves them standing back to back against a place that poses more threats than they can imagine. It leads to some tender moments of lowered walls, and to more than a bit of banter that ranges from truly barbed to gently teasing.
“It’s an ugly thought, but maybe the Bend makes monsters of us all.”
The other thing I adored about The River Has Teeth is that it shows the consequences of anger, good and bad alike. It’s a testament to the power of righteous anger that Natasha and Della make strides in their individual quests. Without that kind of anger and determination, so many things could have become so much worse, so much more dangerous for everyone near the Bend, not just our main characters.
But it also shows the problems with lashing out at helping hands, and letting that bitter rage cloud your judgment. Anger may provide the drive to accomplish things, but it can also destabilize important relationships, and hurt people caught in the crossfire, whether they deserve it or not. I’m thrilled with how this panned out, because as much as I love an angry protagonist, I also love a protagonist who has to face up to the things they’ve said and done when their temper takes the lead.
Long story short? Show me the consequences! I love consequnces.
The River Has Teeth is not some soft woodsy romp, but a flood of rage and dedication.
It takes individual characters and places them in the exposed emptiness of the nature preserve, begging their truest selves to come out to play. The wilderness is a place of magic, a place of change, and no one can resist its call. It’s a matter of who you are, who you want to be, and what you’re willing to fight for with your whole self.
I recommend it to anyone looking for a read starring angry leads, sapphic romance, and a pinch of woodsy horror that will make you second guess what lies out in the world, especially in the dark. 🦉
CW: gore, violence (including gun violence), loss of a loved one, addiction, domestic abuse, underage drinking, drug use, nudity, self-harm (for magical purposes), animal death, suicide, sexual assault