River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey (River of Teeth, #1)
River of Teeth is a dark and fun revenge caper/operation alternate history with hippo steeds and self-confident queer sexiness. If that doesn't make you want to read it immediately, I'm not sure what else would convince you. Check this one out.
I love heist stories, caper (sorry, "operation") stories, anything where we get the crew together for one very dangerous job. I also love alternate history, twisting the past into something a little bit different, a little more weird (or at least differently so). Unsurprisingly, I loved this book. The premise is weird and wonderful, everyone who wants to be sexy is very sexy, the revenge plot is established without weighing down the story... it hit all the right notes for me and I'll definitely check out the sequel.
I don't think it goes quite as far as to have queerness as a default, but it gets most of the way there in very excellent form. Hero is great, their dynamic with Houndstooth is sexy and fun without distracting from the main plot. There's a lot of little things to appreciate and I don't want to spoil them, this just felt very good to read.
That the seed for this premise comes out of a real historical proposal is pretty great, but even if that weren't the case, this would still be a dark and fantastic story.
It moves fast and has a lot of fun, but it's also a revenge story and it has some pretty bloody scenes. Not everyone is up for that, so please take care of yourselves. It somehow manages to be gruesome, edging up to explicit without quite getting there, all without having a dark tone. If you are up for that, go read this.
CW for violence, animal death, death.