Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark

I have read a LOT of books this year (no small surprise) but none like Ring Shout by author P. Djèlí Clark. This alternative history packs a powerful punch in novella form. Superb and unputdownable, it digs in and doesn’t let go.

I received an advanced copy of the book from the publisher via NetGalley; all opinions are my own. This post contains some affiliate links that may earn me a commission if you purchase through them..

The Book

Ring Shout by P. Djèlí ClarkRing Shout by P. Djèlí Clark
Published by Tom Doherty Associates on October 13, 2020
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Historical, Horror
Pages: 176
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Nebula, Locus, and Alex Award-winner P. Djèlí Clark returns with Ring Shout, a dark fantasy historical novella that gives a supernatural twist to the Ku Klux Klan's reign of terror

IN AMERICA, DEMONS WEAR WHITE HOODS.

In 1915, D. W. Griffith is a sorcerer, and The Birth of a Nation cast a spell across America, swelling the Klan's ranks and drinking deep from the darkest thoughts of white folk. All across the nation they ride, spreading fear and violence among the vulnerable. Now, rising in power and prominence, the Klan has a plot to unleash Hell on Earth. But even Ku Kluxes can die.

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 something awful's brewing in Macon, and the war on Hell is about to heat up.

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.

Can Maryse stop the Klan before it ends the world?

five-stars

My Thoughts on Ring Shout

Ring Shout is a speculative fiction set in 1915, as D.W. Griffith’s horrendous film The Birth of Nation feeds the hate in the Ku Klux Klan. And then, there’s the Ku Klux, hellish white creatures who look human, except to a few people that can see their true faces. Maryse is one who can, and she has been called to fight these monsters with the help of a magical blade and fellow resistance fighters. A powerful root worker, the magic she gathers from the Shouters (of the title), and three spirit guides referred to as “the Aunties” are all there for this battle. And she needs all of them, for as terrifying as the Ku Lux are, there is worse yet to come.

I am awed at how much was packed into this novella, a mix of fantasy and horror. How he packs so much into 200 pages is just mind-boggling! Twisting fiction with historical events, the narrative mixes in African folklore, some horrifying monsters, a cast of truly memorable characters, and of course, an ass-kicking heroine with a magical blade.

Clark has a fantastic narrative voice. His writing is vivid, concise, and I’ll say it: masterful. It’s also complex and blunt, pulling no punches, peppered with humor amidst its horrors and atrocities. This is a tale about injustice, about hate and where it comes from, and what it does to the people that hold on to it.

His characters are colorful and endearing and well-developed. Unless they are the bad guys, who are equally dark and evil, and just plain creepy.

Clark delivers both a page-turning tale AND a powerful commentary on hate. I read this in one sitting. It is a story that follows you around long after reading the final page, and its powerful message one that is needed now more than ever. I really want to put Ring Shout in everyone’s hands.

Go, now, and preorder Ring Shout from your favorite bookstore. (I love our local DFW indie bookstore, Interabang Books.)

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