Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark
Publisher: Tor Dot Com
Publication date: 13 October 2020
Genre: Historical horror/fantasy
Page count: 192 pages
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
I was provided with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This review is spoiler-free.
Having read and loved Clark’s Cairo novellas earlier this year, I was so incredibly excited to read an advance copy of his upcoming novella, Ring Shout. Although it is very different in terms of tone and setting, Clark’s newest story is an incredibly powerful horror tale.
D. W. Griffith is a sorcerer, and The Birth of a Nation is a spell that drew upon the darkest thoughts and wishes from the heart of America. Now, rising in power and prominence, the Klan has a plot to unleash Hell on Earth.
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 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.
Ring Shout is a historical-set horror novel about Black Americans hunting down monsters that spur on the hatred of White supremacists in the South. Sound fun? It is, but it’s also more than that. A deep look into America’s historical racism and treatment of Black people, Ring Shout gives the reader a lot to think about in terms of historical and individual traumas, as well as a providing number of jumping off points for further research into the actual history behind the story.
I absolutely loved the characters in this book. The three main characters are absolutely stunning — three monster hunting, weapon wielding women who face both supernatural and human enemies every day. I especially adored the foul mouthed Sadie, who was a wonderful addition to the story. These three women have such different backgrounds, but are tied together by their shared traumatic pasts.
The only thing that didn’t quite work for me was — being vague as possible to avoid spoilers — the revelation of the Big Bad. Like with most horror stories, I find that the actual reality of the villain is much less frightening than their actions while cloaked in darkness. While there was a lot that I enjoyed about the ending, that was one thing that stuck with me as not quite clicking. It certainly wasn’t enough to detract from my enjoyment of the story though.
Ring Shout is absolutely a book you should pick up this October, regardless of whether or not you’re a mega fan of P. Djèlí Clark (like me) or not. A powerful story of racism and hate, as well as conquering those horrors, Ring Shout is a must-read this fall.
Want to pre-order Ring Shout for yourself? You can find it at the following sites (affiliate links):