Book reviews / Fantasy

Book review: Ring Shout

What’s this? I’ve read another book and it didn’t take me a month, magic.

I was really looking forward to Ring Shout as I have really enjoyed everything I’ve read P. Djèlí Clark (such as A Dead Djinn in Cairo and The Haunting of Tram Car 015). This was just as weird and wonderful as those previous stories, but in an entirely new setting.

Ring Shout takes place after World War 1, where in the southern United States, the Ku Klux Klan are on the rise. Except in this stories, instead of being just monstrous humans, they are actual monsters. In step Sadie, Chef and Maryse (among others) who hunt down the monsters with magical swords and not-so-magical but effective rifles and and explosives.

There are so many things to love about this short, but punchy novel. First, the main characters are all women, and obviously many of the protagonists are Black, Creole and some Native Americans. And the novel uses the natural language cadence of the south, which really draws you into the world.

Second, I love the it takes this horrible setting and does something fantastical with it. Using the imagery and language of hate, but also the myths and legends of slaves and former slaves and the magic that can counter the bad guys (including the title of the books, ring shouts). And all that myth and magic is so wonderfully described that it felt like a real tangible place. I also just really liked the balance of science and magic, like where there was Nana Jean using ring shouts, there was also Molly Hogan dissecting the monsters to figure out what they are.

Third, the resolution of the novel was great. It wasn’t just about battling horrible, hateful monsters, but coming to terms with the things that hold you back. As well, that countering hate with hate just leaves you bound to evil monsters and the only way to win is through justice.

This book will not take you long to read, so just go get it. You may have a little speck of dust in your eyes at the end, just saying, so just watch out for those last few pages.

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