‘Lovecraft Country’ by Matt Ruff

Mount Readmore Book Review 2018, 153/200


Audiobook Edition

Finished on 10/27/2018


Genres: Horror, Fantasy, Historican Fantasy, SciFi, Lovecraft, Americana, Black History

A book in which a bunch of racist folks are eaten by tentacle horrors

Spoiler-ific review

I’m reading this as a part of the Sword and Laser Podcast. Happy Halloween!

Ordinarily I’d not read Horror novels, so there was very little chance I’d read this. However because my Mount Readmore project has me reading so many books, I decided to stretch myself a little and read this. This book is excellent and I’m happy I gave it the chance. I can Highly Recommend this if you want to read a book about black America, or Horror or just a good Fantasy Thriller.

LOVECRAFT COUNTRY takes on the racist heritage of Hugo Lovecraft head on, by merging themes of Jim Crow with eldritch horrors. This book stars a middle-class black American family in the 1950’s, as they must deal with the mundane terrors of sundown counties, racist cops, racist neighbors, racist housing polices, racist ghosts and racist cultists. This is a series of short stories, where each member of an extended family of black Americans is featured in an adventure against a dangerous cult of eldritch-worshipping white folks.

The prime antagonists of this story are the humans and not the Lovecraftian horrors. If you are interested in reading a story mainly about Lovecraftian horrors, the horrors are the B-tier enemies in this story compared to the mundane evils of Jim Crow era America. The author writes compelling characters struggling against a rigged system which favors the nefarious forces of white (eldritch cultist) America. Now to be sure there are a LOT of Lovecraftian themes (tentacle beasts, alternate planets, dangerous ghosts, haunted houses, mirco-universes, insane cults and more). However these themes are not the primary antagonists. If you want to read a book where the primary antagonist is the supernatural horrors and not humanity’s flawed nature, go somewhere else.

The characters in this book are all relatible to read about. It stars men and women between the ages of about seven and seventy, and each one seems fully fleshed out with quirks and damage. They are excellent and believable.

But no book is perfect. Here’s some constructive criticism.

The book was an anthology of short stories, which when assembled together forms a narrative of how a black American family fought back against a system of systematic oppression which favored an eldritch cult. I didn’t really like the anthology nature of the book; some of the short stories were better than others. This variability in quality sped up and slowed down the pacing depending on how interested I was in the present story.

While I liked the characters, the fact that each character was only featured in one short story really hampered their character development net-total. I would have liked if perhaps Atticus and Hippolite were the primary characters in each of the short stories so they each got more development.

However this book’s charm is kinda wound up in with it’s flaws. I’m just not a fan of this meta-anthology storytelling style, but I’m honest enough to admit that I think the author pulled off the meta-anthology style even if I didn’t like it. The author goes a good job of portraying an unfeeling universe which Lovecraft is so famous for, by using Jim Crow era America for black people as a backdrop.

Overall, I Highly Recommend this book. I will be reading some more of this author’s work in the future.


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