This week I dove into Matt Ruff’s brilliantly entertaining Lovecraft Country, which takes all the things you love about a good Lovecraft story; otherworldly horror, science fiction mixed with horror, and some other familiar horror tropes, the creepy doll, the haunted house, and deliver it without Lovecraft’s far too prominent racism.
As much as I love the spookiness and the way his stories unnerve me, Lovecraft’s racism hangs like a pallor over everything he wrote. Ruff takes the the familiar tropes and adds the true horror of racism and the Jim Crow laws that dominated the United States of the 1950s (and still seem to be in place today).
A connected series of stories plunges us into otherworldly and all too familiar horror as Atticus Turner, his family and friends deal with a collection of powerful white men who wield incredible power and need him to complete a final ritual, all thanks to the hidden secret of his ancestors’ slavery.
Ruff perfectly conjures some very spooky images, adding some great scare moments and ideas, but the horror really comes to the fore when you see how Atticus, and his family, all African-American are treated on a moment to moment basis by the white people around them.
I loved the spookiness, and was completely flabbergasted and hurt by the experiences these characters went through just trying to go through their daily life in a hate-filled, segregated world.
Each of the little vignettes are completely engrossing and while they may be familiar, at least by concept, Ruff doles them out in a completely believable way that gets under your skin and stays with you.
It’s also steeped in some truly enjoyable references to the pulp fiction that was prevalent at the time, as well as other writers who have endured in the genres of horror and science fiction. The blossoming art form of comic books is touched upon again and again, all of these things combine into one helluva read.
So, if you are looking for a great horror, kind of, anthology, especially before the HBO series comes along (from Jordan Peele and J.J. Abrams), pick this one up, settle in, and enjoy as much as you can, fictionalised horror with the everyday terrors that some people still have to face on a day to day basis.
I love Ruff’s writing style, there’s a bewitching ease to it, and this ended up being a book I didn’t want to put down. It was always in hand, and I raced through it, and now, will have to hunt down the rest of his literary efforts.
Have you read anything by him yet? Or know of anything Lovecraftian to read, sans the racism?