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Lovecraft Country: A Novel Hardcover – February 16, 2016
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“Nonstop adventure that includes time-shifting, shape-shifting, and Lovecraft-like horrors ... Ruff, a cult favorite for his mind-bending fiction, vividly portrays racism as a horror worse than anything conceived by Lovecraft in this provocative, chimerical novel” (Booklist (starred review))
“Another ‘only Matt Ruff could do this’ production. Lovecraft Country takes the unlikeliest of premises and spins it into a funny, fast, exciting and affecting read.” (Neal Stephenson, New York Times bestselling author of Seveneves and Anathem)
“Lovecraft Country is a genre-bending attempt to address the severe problem of race in modern America, skewering the prejudices of older pulp works while maintaining their flavor, but it’s also a compulsively readable horror-fantasy in its own right: timely, terrifying, and hilarious.” (Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog)
“Lovecraft Country is bound to appeal to any reader who wants to delve into the strangeness of our land’s racial legacy.” (Seattle Times)
“Ruff takes us back to the USA of the 1950s, when racism reigned almost unquestioned, and conflates Lovecraftian tropes with piercing dissections of ethics and morals and inequality, thereby confronting Lovecraft’s now well-known prejudices through the lens of Ruff’s own brilliant imagination and artistry.” (Barnes & Noble Review)
“Lovecraft Country rubs the pervasive, eldritch dread of Lovecraft’s universe against the very real, historical dread of Jim Crow America and sparks fly. . . . Ruff renders a very high-concept, imaginary world with such vividness that you can’t help but feel it’s disturbingly real.” (Christopher Moore, New York Times bestselling author of Lamb and A Dirty Job)
“Ruff shows with great cleverness how it’s possible for a group of victims to appropriate the very methods used to victimize them, master those methods, and bend them to serve their own purposes.” (Locus)
“I’ve heard amazing things about Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff, and on the strength of his previous books, I’m inclined to expect greatness from him.” (Charlie Jane Anders, The Amazon Book Review)
“I enjoyed every ounce of Ruff’s book.” (Tor.com)
“…this newer book rewards patience, and nowhere more so than in the passages where it heartbreakingly weaves Hippolyta into the actual events that surrounded Pluto’s discovery and naming. Once Ruff took me there, I would’ve followed him anywhere in Lovecraft Country.” (Seattle Review of Books)
From the Back Cover
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.
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It’s such an exciting premise, but it just didn’t deliver in quite the way that I had hoped. The story follows 22-year-old Atticus Turner and his family, who discover that they are inextricably linked to a secret organization that harnesses occult powers.
Unfortunately, I had a hard time ever finding a rhythm. The book hops around to different narratives without enough focus on character development, which left me feeling disconnected and uninvested. Rather than fully exploring the many moral complexities at his disposal, Ruff instead delivers a convoluted plot that’s arguably more of an homage to Scooby Doo or The DaVinci Code than Lovecraft.
I loved his idea of applying the cosmic existential dread at the heart of Lovecraft’s stories to the terror of being black in Jim Crow America, but the story lacked the awe and atmospheric tension that one would expect from a Lovecraft tribute. If I’m being honest, there really wasn’t any narrative tension at all.
Such a great concept, but such lackluster execution. If I were rating it purely on the premise alone (and for that AMAZING cover art), it would be a 5-star book, but alas, a stellar premise does not make a great book.