The River Has Teeth by Erica Waters

The River Has Teeth by Erica Waters. Harper Teen, 2021. 9780062894250

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or starred review) 4

Format: Hardcover

Genre: Fantasy fiction

What did you like about the book? Young white, blond girls (like Natasha’s sister Rochelle) have been going missing and a local family of witches, including teen Della, worries they will be blamed. They have good reason to be worried; Della’s mother has gone crazy and Della locked her up in an abandoned prison located near the large park where the girls have gone missing. Della doesn’t want to believe the worst, but she knows the river has infected her mother and turned her into a monster. Della sometimes finds dried blood on her mother’s hands and fears the worst. Meanwhile, Natasha has come to Della and her family for their magical assistance; she is convinced that her sister’s ex-boyfriend is the one to blame for her sister’s disappearance. Chapters alternate between Della and Natasha’s first person points of view. Tension builds palpably as the two girls get closer to solving the mystery of the disappearances. Soon the two girls are working together. Race, class, and sexuality are all factors in this book. The River Has Teeth has a fantastical core, but reads like a thriller. Highly recommended for mature readers (grades 8+).

Anything you did not like about the book? The plot dragged a little bit in the middle. 

To whom would you recommend this book? Anyone who likes atmospheric fantasy with a dash of girl power will like this book.

Who should buy this book? Most high school libraries and some middle school libraries. 

Where would you shelve it? Fantasy

Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Laura Gardner, Dartmouth Middle School, Dartmouth, MA

Date of review: October 21, 2021

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