Monday, August 31, 2020

Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff

Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Pages: 387 pages
Published: February 2016

The Fort Worth Library's Stay At Home Book Club prompted me to dig into the fantasy/horror of Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff this summer. Coupled with the recently released series of the same name on HBO, I couldn't pass up this opportunity to read the book even though neither fantasy nor horror is my favorite type of book or movie. 

So, basically this book is told is eight vignettes all set in 1954 on the backdrop of Jim Crow racism in the United States. The inciting story is about a young man, Atticus, who returns from military service in search of his missing father. He partners up with his uncle who is the publisher of The Safe Negro Travel Guide (which is based on the real Negro Motorist Green Book that Black people had to use to find safe shelter and resources while traveling not so freely though these United States of America) and, reluctantly, with his childhood friend (possibly crush) Letitia. On their quest to find Atticus' father they are faced with some dangerous encounters with racists and horrific ones led by Samuel Braithwhite and his son Caleb, who are attempting to secure salvation for their secret tribe, the Order of the Ancient Dawn, that only Atticus can provide. 

I found the first chapter of the book to be attention-getting and engrossing. Being a historical fiction buff, the Jim Crow thematic elements are what kept my interest. At times I wasn't sure what was more nerve-racking, the overt racism or the fantasy and horror elements of each short story. All of the stories are intertwined, and you would need to read the book in order to get a full understanding. My favorite chapter was the one that focused on a secondary character, Ruby who is Letitia's sister.  

I don't really know much about Lovecraft or his type of horror writing; however, I think if I did I would have had a greater appreciation for how this author put his spin on it. I enjoyed the book for what it was, but I do think fans of horror would enjoy it more. 

Recommendation: If fantasy and horror float your boat, you might enjoy this book as it has a little more depth by adding the racial element. However, if you're looking for something about racism or the Jim Crow era, choose another book. 

Thanks to the Fort Worth Library for this ebook loan! 

Until next time ... Read on!

Regardless of whether I purchase a book, borrow a book, or receive a book in exchange for review, my ultimate goal is to be honest, fair, and constructive. I hope you've found this review helpful.


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