Great concept and background development. Interesting ensemble of characters. Love the map and cover art. What could go wrong? A lot.
Gratuitous sex and violence. That is, apparently injected to titillate, not to advance the story. Motives and actions were either heavy-handed or disconnected. Lack of proofreading (or something). For example, “then reached back into his saddle bag” appears twice in the same paragraph.
According to the map, the Harriet stretches 150 miles from the dam on the Mississippi (consider that for a moment) and the Gate near the mouth of the Atchafalaya River. Yet, Gailey writes of a scene at the Gate, “The humid haze of the day didn’t quite obscure the massive dam that dominated the horizon behind him.” Impossible. And, if the gate is on the Atchafalaya, what keeps the hippos out of the Mississippi below the dam?
Gaily uses plural person pronouns–them and their–to designate individuals indeterminate gender, contradicting hundreds of years of English usage and knocking the reader out of the story to determine what the author means. Creative people ought to come up with a new, indefinite-gender singular pronoun and sell it to the Chicago Manual of Style. Take a consonant–say x or k–and add the appropriate endings. It destroys the flow and spell of the story.
They want feral hippos on the Gulf Coast?!
(2018 Hugo Award novella finalist)