cover image The River Has Teeth

The River Has Teeth

Erica Waters. HarperTeen, $17.99 (400p) ISBN 978-0-06-289425-0

When wealthy white college student Rochelle Greymont disappears near a Tennessee nature park, her 16-year-old sister, Natasha, becomes convinced that Rochelle’s boyfriend, Jake Carr, is responsible. The police disagree, so a vengeful Natasha pays 17-year-old Della Lloyd—the white descendant of Scottish witches whose house abuts the nature park—for a potion that will make Jake confess. Della complies, largely to redirect attention away from her mother, Ruby, whom she fears actually killed Rochelle. The previous year, a botched spell kick-started Ruby’s transformation into a wrathful river siren, and though Della and her Da keep Ruby locked in a nearby abandoned prison to protect herself and others, she occasionally escapes. Della initially has no compunction about misleading Natasha, but it’s not long before attraction sparks between them. Natasha and Della co-narrate, trading chapters. This horror-tinged tale from Waters (Ghost Wood Song) spotlights issues of racial and socioeconomic injustice. Convenient plotting abounds, the girls’ romance feels manufactured, and Natasha’s outsize fury can border on caricature, but Waters’s lushly written story is stocked with capable female characters of various ethnicities and sexual orientations. Ages 13–up. [em]Agent: Lauren Spieller, Triada US. (July) [/em]