Book Review: Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff

Amazon.com: Lovecraft Country: A Novel: 9780062292070: Ruff, Matt: Books

Title: Lovecraft Country

Author: Matt Ruff

Genre: Horror/Fantasy

Number of Pages: 372

Rating: B+

Recommended?: Yes


Lovecraft Country follows a group of African-American characters through horrific encounters with supernatural entities as well as the everyday racism of Jim Crow-era America. It all starts when a young veteran and sci-fi/fantasy buff named Atticus has to save his abducted father from a secret society of white magic users.

Going in I was expecting the story about Atticus trying to rescue his father to be the bulk of the storyline. To my surprise, that was resolved by the first chapter and what followed was a series of mostly self-contained but connected stories following Atticus’ family and the family of his childhood friend Letitia. All of them connect to that secret organization from the first channel but the settings and conflicts are quite different.

One has a haunted house, one has a Black woman who explores white privilege by inhabiting the body of a white woman, one features a young boy being terrorized by possessed objects… it’s really cool. It’s really confusing at times because of all the characters, and there are so many different focal points that I found the protagonists hard to connect with, which is why I decided not to give it an A. You get a little bit of each character’s personality traits, their passions and their interests, but that’s about it.

Almost all the white characters in this book were assholes, which was interesting because the author is white. Even though all the nasty and vile behavior of the white characters towards the black ones was overwhelming, it probably wasn’t far off from the reality of the setting and the time period. Lovecraft Country portrays a world where the Black characters are constantly targeted by whites, from cops and other authority figures to random people on the street.

All that would be scary enough WITHOUT all the paranormal shit they must battle to try to live the most peaceful and normal lives possible. I can tell from reading this novel and Bad Monkeys (the first book I read by this author) that Matt Ruff has an incredible imagination. He comes up with all kinds of crazy plot developments and somehow manages to make them work. After reading this I’m definitely interested in the HBO series and how closely it follows the events of the book.

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