The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This novella belongs to the same sub-[sub?]-genre as Matt Ruff’s Lovecraft Country–the Lovecraftian mythos as reimagined through the lens of characters and/or writers of color. This one is set in New York in 1924. Unfortunately (and this is probably due to the fact that it’s a novella and the plot has to move along) the cultural aspects are not so deeply explored. (Although there is one incident in particular that, sadly, could have been ripped out of today’s headlines.) It’s also more explicitly Lovecraftian–Cthulhu is namechecked and described.
The story suffers, in my view, from an unnecessary POV shift about halfway through. It would have made for a tighter focus and characterization if the author had stuck to the original POV character throughout, although as the story unfolded, that would have resulted in going to some pretty dark places. This one would also have been better at a greater length, I think. As it is, it’s okay, but nowhere near the fantastic Lovecraft Country.
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