River of Teeth book 1
In the early 20th Century, the United States government concocted a plan to import hippopotamuses into the marshlands of Louisiana to be bred and slaughtered as an alternative meat source. This is true.
Other true things about hippos: they are savage, they are fast, and their jaws can snap a man in two.
This was a terrible plan.
Contained within this volume is an 1890s America that might have been: a bayou overrun by feral hippos and mercenary hippo wranglers from around the globe. It is the story of Winslow Houndstooth and his crew. It is the story of their fortunes. It is the story of his revenge. (from Goodreads)
So yeah, this is an alternate western with hippos in place of horses. And while I’m a big fan of horses and love to have horsey goings on that premise certainly grabbed my attention. I had vaguely heard of that never implemented plan to use hippos in the US as a source of meat. Probably on metafilter, it is my usual source for the wonderful and strange online. So I was aware of that, I hesitate to use the word plan, because, well hippos… So when I first saw mention of this book I was intrigued.
It is a really great fun read.
And there is more to it than just hippo riding cowboys. There is the story of Winslow Houndstooth and his quest for revenge, and the motley crew he assembles all come with their own backstory. Plenty to keep me reading.
It is a novella, so short enough, but the story is well written, I enjoyed the characters, and I’ll certainly be reading the second book, Taste of Marrow. I have it pre-ordered already.