Book Review: Ring Shout

Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark


The Klan has a plan to unleash more evil onto the earth, but luckily, Maryse Boudreaux has a magic sword and murder in her heart. She’s out to stop the Klan and their monstrous Ku Kluxes, any way she can. Even if she has to travel to other dimensions to do so.

OMG yesssss this was fantastic and so fucking creepy!

I think the creepiest part—minus all of the mouths—is Clark’s uncanny ability to tap directly into the heart of current affairs. Granted, racism and white supremacy is not something that has ever gone away or been defeated in the United States. It’s systemically built into the structure of the country’s foundations. However. This book is incredibly timely, as it channels the current rise of white supremacy to the rise of the KKK in the 1920s, with some inter-dimensional woowoo thrown into the mix.

Red dots mark it, indicating Klan activity. Two years back was only a few red dots, most here in Georgia. Now there’s red everywhere—through the South, swallowing the Midwest, going far up as Oregon.

In Ring Shout, white supremacy has cast a spell over the country. Quite literally, with the wide-release of the first 12-reel movie in history: the incredibly racist and blatantly hateful Birth of a Nation.

The enemy, they are the Lie. The Lie running around pretending to be the Truth.

And the spellwork continues, transforming white people into literal monsters called Ku Kluxes, which heroine Maryse destroys with her team of women fighters. The insidious nature of white supremacy is everywhere on the page, side by side with respectability politics and the way upper class, rich white people manipulated the fears of poor white people against Black people, cleverly dividing two groups that have more in common with each other than with the rich.

Anywho, there is a lot going on in this one that had me riveted from the first page to the next, and I’m going to explain it all very poorly since I’ve delayed so long in writing my review and because I cannot put into the right words how this book is just so intelligent on so many levels.

It’s a Lovecraftian horror novel that literally skewers the racism of Lovecraft.

It’s a love story—of the various kinds of love folks can have. Towards their lovers, their friends, their community, their people, their enemy, and towards themselves.

It’s a political commentary on the rise of white supremacy and the culpability of white silence and respectability politics.

It’s a gorgeously researched alternate historical fiction with a robustly diverse cast (queer rep!!).

It’s a fantasy novel with layers and super cool magic.

It’s Titus Andronicus with the pies, if yaknowwhatImean *wink*

And it’s a fucking great story, one that makes you think (if you had not thought before), on the great minds we threw into the fields to work and die without freedom. Slavery—and the legacy of Jim Crow—was truly the great brain drain of American history.

What else was there to do in that drudgery, working from can’t see morning to can’t see night, but to get thinking on life, death and God’s purpose? All them grand thinkers lost to the whip. Gone and took they secrets with ’em to the grave.

I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review

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