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I adore American Hippo. This enchanting rough and tumble alternative history of the South infested by feral hippopotamus, an animal introduced to America as an alternative meat resource which has since run awry, is sure to captivate readers seeking an inclusive Western-feeling caper. The sheer joy I found in reading about murdering, bank robbing, and hippo riding was unexpected and exhilarating. I myself am not a fan of Westerns, but found myself enthralled in the drama of their relationships, the action necessary to survive, and the suspense from the possibility of being eaten by raging feral hippos.
I began reading the first novella, River of Teeth, over these past winter months, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Now that I have the omnibus in my hands, I quickly devoured the remaining novella and two additional short stories. Gailey’s writing is amazing. It’s quirky, each character has such a different and robust personality, and I haven’t found a writer whose descriptions felt quite the same as hers. Her personality as an author shines through her writing, yet each character sees the world in such a unique light that I can’t help but feel immersed in both their inner dramas and the plot as a whole.
Taste of Marrow develops each of the characters further, and throws in a few more side characters. I could feel their relationships building as the characters get through a host of emotions, from betrayal to heartbreak and back again. They lean on each other in ways I wouldn’t have expected based on who I thought they were from River of Teeth. I would definitely want all of them on my side in case of a gruesome feral hippo attack. The main characters are the most badass group I’ve gotten the chance to meet in a long time.
I don’t think I’ve ever read about a more diverse cast of characters. Certainly not in a historical fiction/Western type story. I count myself lucky to come across such a great read, and can’t wait to read more. Gailey is most definitely an author I want to read more from. I’m hoping the author will continue to write in similar genres, although I’d also be fascinated to read something if she put out a book in the complete opposite direction. I hope this isn’t the end of the hippos – I may have to reread this book over and over again if that’s the case!
I received a copy of this book via the publisher, Tor, in exchange for an honest review.