Author: Matt Ruff
Rating: 4 Stars
Review By: Shana
Lovecraftian themes, and their attendant horror, are put to supremely clever use in this book, where the supernatural has to struggle to be as terrifying as the realities of living as an African-American during Jim Crow times.
Through a series of interlocking tales (not quite feeling like a unified novel, but more interwoven with one another than a short story collection), Ruff introduces you to various African-Americans living in a segregated America, old and young, male and female. He manages to sketch out their lives with bold and concise strokes, never losing momentum in the larger tale of occult practices and intrigue. The marriage of supernatural terror with Jim Crow realities is genius. The many black protagonists in these tales have to simultaneously avoid the known dangers of white America while contending with being pawns in the hands of the power-hungry (and too clever by half) Caleb Braithwhite and his designs on vast, unnatural power.
The various events and vignettes give voice and life to those who were downtrodden but not broken, showing how they navigated a country that did not want them to succeed, and yet allowing them to demonstrate intelligence, ingenuity, and perseverance. A wonderful book. Highly recommended.
My love of reading was sparked in 3rd grade by the promise of personal pan pizzas via the BOOK IT! Program. Hmmmm... any chance that someone might give adults free food for reading? Asking for a friend...