Review: Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff

When HBO picked up this book to turn into a series, I was thrilled! I didn’t know anything about the book or the author but I know that HBO always turns out well done series so when I saw the previews for this one, I couldn’t wait.

I also have been getting more and more into the horror genre and when I was approached to do a feature and interview with the author before the HBO series released, I was intrigued and immediately said yes.

After doing the interview and reading more about Lovecraft Country, I decided to wait and watch the HBO series in favor of reading the book first so that I could then watch the series and enjoy it without it ruining anything.

Summary

The critically acclaimed cult novelist makes visceral the terrors of life in Jim Crow America and its lingering effects in this brilliant and wondrous work of the imagination that melds historical fiction, pulp noir, and Lovecraftian horror and fantasy.

Chicago, 1954. When his father Montrose goes missing, twenty-two year old Army veteran Atticus Turner embarks on a road trip to New England to find him, accompanied by his Uncle George—publisher of The Safe Negro Travel Guide—and his childhood friend Letitia. On their journey to the manor of Mr. Braithwhite—heir to the estate that owned Atticus’s great grandmother—they encounter both mundane terrors of white America and malevolent spirits that seem straight out of the weird tales George devours.

At the manor, Atticus discovers his father in chains, held prisoner by a secret cabal named the Order of the Ancient Dawn—led by Samuel Braithwhite and his son Caleb—which has gathered to orchestrate a ritual that shockingly centers on Atticus. And his one hope of salvation may be the seed of his—and the whole Turner clan’s—destruction.

A chimerical blend of magic, power, hope, and freedom that stretches across time, touching diverse members of one black family, Lovecraft Country is a devastating kaleidoscopic portrait of racism—the terrifying specter that continues to haunt us today. (summary from Goodreads)

Review

This book was out of my comfort zone in many ways. As I have mentioned many times before, I don’t normally read a lot of horror or sci fi, but recently I have begun to explore horror more and more, though in truth it is a genre I struggle with. For instance, I hated Frankenstein with a passion but I love ghost stories like Simone St James. Horror always seems to be a genre that includes a hodgepodge of things like ghosts, monsters, sci-fi ish elements, zombies, witches, vampires and all other creatures in between. But it’ characters can also have supernatural gifts like telekinetics like Carrie in Stephen King’s debut.

This is why this genre appeals to me, because it’s so broad and inclusive. This book has been getting a lot of press because of the HBO series, but for me it seems more timely and relevant than that. After all of the BLM protests around out country, like many I wanted to read more books about race but wasn’t looking for a history book which is what made this book sound amazing—It’s an odd mashup of horror and racial issues.

One of the things that I found fascinating about this book was that all of the horror elements were not nearly as terrifying as the racism! I was so impressed with this author, a white man writing about racial injustices in Jim Crow America featuring a black family. I worried that he would be unable to capture the nuances and struggles of blacks during this time period, but he did a wonderful job capturing the essence of Jim Crow.

I have to admit though, I think the characters could have been a little more realized and developed but overall I thought Ruff was able to create realistic and sympathetic characters for readers to enjoy. One of the things I also enjoyed was the surprising dark humor woven throughout the book. I have a dark sense of humor and I loved this aspect of the novel.

Since I haven’t read much of the horror genre, I am not familiar with H.P. Lovecraft’s works. I know who he is of course but I have never actually read any of his books, now of course I need to read them because I am curious thanks to this novel.

This was probably one of the more unique and surprising reads that I have had this year. I was looking forward to it but wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did. While not ‘terrifying’ there was plenty to make your blood run cold. If you love horror this one is not to be missed!

Book Info and Rating

ebook, 329 pages

Published February 16th 2016 by Harper

Free review copy provided by publisher, Harper, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.

Rating: 4 stars

Genre: horror

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