“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.”
Have you ever just read a description of a book and thought “That is 100% absurd and I am really upset that I didn’t think of it first”? That was my first thought when I read the description. The second was “Wow, I read a description. Maybe I am getting sick”. The third was “Maybe my gay cowboy dreams have been lacking hippos the whole time”. So clearly, there was nothing I could do but read this book as soon as I could get my hands on a copy.
I did read it
I also ordered a copy of it for my friend for Christmas.
I then recommended it to all of my friends on Goodreads that I thought could even remotely enjoy this book.
So this is one of those books that I never would have found if it weren’t for my favorite librarian. Not that she told me about this book in particular, but she pre-ordered a book by Gailey and so I went off on a hunt to find a Gailey book to see if I was going to bug her to borrow the new one or not. Well, I don’t think Gailey could write a more perfect book for me than one about hippo wranglers. So I am still torn.
I am learning that there is a queer version of everything. I tend to prefer the queer version of things. I am hit or miss with historical fiction and historical fiction about alternate timelines. It really depends on the author and the time period. Throw in queer characters and hippos and I am sold apparently. I would be happy if all of my gay cowboy novels were rewritten to make them all hippo wranglers. Can I start a petition for this?
The book is short and there are clearly issues with it. Rivers flow a certain direction for example. It is really easy for me to suspend my belief about hippos and rivers for the fun of this book though. I would willingly live in this world. I have already fed some pygmy hippos and a full sized hippo. I WOULD KILL FOR THE CHANCE TO RIDE A HIPPO. Ahem. I mean this book had serious merit as a literary work. The ideas were large. The characters were distinct. There was a bit of backstory here and there. Motivations were clear. THE HIPPOS WERE AMAZINGLY CUTE. The violence had a reason. There were very little violence towards any hippos. The only hippos that died were either in self defense or during a fire (attempts were made to save them).
I loved this book. Someone, please read this so I have someone to gush about hippos with. Thank you.
5 out of 5 stars. I would recommend this book.
You can buy the book here.