ARC Review – Ring Shout by P. Djeli Clark

D. W. Griffith is a sorcerer, and The Birth of a Nation is a spell that drew upon the darkest thoughts and wishes from the heart of America. Now, rising in power and prominence, the Klan has a plot to unleash Hell on Earth.

Luckily, Maryse Boudreaux has a magic sword and a head full of tales. When she’s not running bootleg whiskey through Prohibition Georgia, she’s fighting monsters she calls “Ku Kluxes.” She’s damn good at it, too. But to confront this ongoing evil, she must journey between worlds to face nightmares made flesh–and her own demons. Together with a foul-mouthed sharpshooter and a Harlem Hellfighter, Maryse sets out to save a world from the hate that would consume it.

Review!

A Lovecraftesque fantasy/horror set in Prohibition Georgia at the height of the Ku Klux Klan, Ring shout is a book filled with hate, magic and a host of kick ass women who I instantly fell in love with. Clark starts this book off with a bang and you easily find yourself getting swept away on Maryse’s journey, flying through the just over 200 pages.

I hadn’t read anything by the author before, though I have a few of his works on my TBR, so I had little idea what I was getting myself in for. This is a horror book in every sense of the word, and whilst there are the traditional monsters, blood and gore, the true horror of Ring Shout is the hate that seeps through the pages. It shows you how blind hate can change you from the inside out. How it can worm it’s way deep inside you. But how hate for a reason, justified hate, the hate of a people persecuted for the colour of their skin can bring a kind of power.

Filled with racial commentary that is unfortunately still relevant in today’s society, you could call Ring Shout almost prophetic in how it brings to light issues that could apply to today as easily as 80 years ago. It is a much needed book, one that shows the true monsters in the world don’t always look like monsters, they can look exactly like you and me, and it can sometimes be too late before you realise the difference.

The big strength of this book are its characters. Maryse is the MC and alongside Sadie and Chef she leads the ‘Ku Klux’ hunting team thanks to a sword gifted to her by ‘Haints’ that contains the anger of every person the Klan has killed. These three women are brilliantly depicted, strong, resilient, hilarious and unafraid to run away from a fight. In fact they are the ones that usually run towards danger. It takes a rare talent to get readers to resonate with characters in so few pages, but I defy you not to ‘click’ with these characters instantly. They are so human, faults and all, but it is their humanity that gives them their strength.

I can’t recommend this book more. But if ‘Ku Klux’s, actual monsters that have infiltrated the clan, get hunted down by three badass black women’ doesn’t convince you, I don’t know what will.

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