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Make the amazing journey through Lovecraft Country
February 2, 2016
Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff
Harper Collins Science Fiction & Fantasy Pub Date: February 16, 2016
I've never read a novel quite like Lovecraft Country. Superficially it is an anthology of interrelated stories clearly influenced by pulp noir and Lovecraftian horror. There is much more to Ruff's novel, however. With the current troubling uptick in racism, Lovecraft Country is particularly pertinent in how it reminds the reader of the terrifying challenges faced by African Americans during the era of Jim Crow and segregation. Terrors of racist malevolence blend with creatures and circumstance seemingly drawn straight from the pages of science fiction.
The novel centers around 22 year old African American Army veteran Atticus Turner and his family and friends. Their lives are irrevocably changed when Atticus, his Uncle George, and friend Letitia follow his father to Ardham in pursuit of Atticus’s legacy. The Order of the Ancient Dawn need Atticus, willing or unwilling to participate in a dangerous ritual. Atticus and his family escape from Ardham, but not from the grasp of Caleb Braithwhite.
Over the course of the novel, Atticus and his circle face the impossible as well as the everyday with strength and hope. White entitlement as epitomized by The Order of the Ancient Dawn is the enemy.
What Atticus and his circle want is not power, but respect and freedom – freedom to live, to learn, to love and to dream. One tale that affected me strongly was that of Ruby and her white alter-ego Hillary. The extreme differences in the way Ruby is treated based on whether she is black or white at the time is painful to observe. Doors are open to her as Hillary that would otherwise be forever closed to Ruby. It is a Jekyll and Hyde tale. Ruff at one point reminds the reader that the story is told entirely by Jekyll. His goal is to absolve himself of the responsibility of his actions as Hyde. Hyde has freedom that Jekyll does not.
Lovecraft Country is more than a tribute the pulp science fiction. It is a masterfully written commentary on the lasting effects of racism on America. I highly recommend this novel.
Lovecraft Country is available for preorder and will be released February 16, 2016.
I received a copy of Lovecraft Country from Harper Collins in exchange for an honest review.
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, 22-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 one of Atticus’s ancestors—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 two black families, Lovecraft Country is a devastating kaleidoscopic portrait of racism—the terrifying specter that continues to haunt us today.