We’ve got a lot European-flavored monsters in our fantasy fiction: trolls, dragons, ogres and vampire, just to name a few. It’s fine, they’re all classics and I love them, but as a long-time lover of monsters, I have to say that by focusing on the mythology of Europe, we as readers and writers end up missing out on a lot of cool and creepy stuff, like El Cuero: an evil blood sucking cow hide….
The Chilean monster of that name lives in Lake Lacar in the Andes, and resembles a splayed hide with a hairless head and backbone. The legend may have arisen from sightings of freshwater stingrays, although El Cuero is larger and has eyes on stalks, as well as claws. It also has a mouth protruding from its midsection through which it sucks blood from its victims. In the Amazon region, a similar monster is called the Hueke Hueke, which is also described as a splayed hide, without the blood-sucking proboscis.
Can you imagine sending a noble knight to fight an evil cow hide? The mind boggles at the possibilities: maybe a witch made it, or it’s the cursed creation of an insane butcher…maybe it just came alive on its own and now needs to be put down for good. El Cuero is just one of the many exotic and authentic South American monsters on a list on MentalFloss.com.
Here’s an idea, readers, why don’t you look at those South American monsters and come back here to leave a comment. List your favorite one and write how you might be able to work it into your own fantasy scenario, like I did above. Let’s see what we can make!