Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

The Ballad of Black Tom [review]

The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle
Published by on February 16, 2016
my rating: ★★.5 (2.5 stars)
Goodreads avg:
3.89 (as of 2020-07-11)
Spoiler-free review

Goodreads IndieBound | Author’s Website

I’ll take Cthulhu over you devils any day.

I buddy read this with Hadeer, who enjoyed it and wrote a much more thorough review than I did. Go check hers out!

This is a retelling of one of Lovecraft’s stories, which I have not read. Lovecraft himself is infamously racist, so LaValle’s retelling is a commentary on racism. What I found myself most struck by was how some of the explicitly racist bits could have been pulled straight out of today’s world even though the story takes place some 100 years ago. I found myself absolutely horrified by one scene, only to immediately see how it is paralleled by stories in the news today. But while I appreciated LaValle’s commentary, I couldn’t connect to the character’s or the story itself and had a difficult time feeling invested in the novella. I’ll still be recommending it to others, and am glad to see most people have enjoyed it more than I did.

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4 thoughts on “The Ballad of Black Tom [review]”

  1. Ah, sorry this wasn’t a bigger win for you! I really like the idea of turning a racist “classic” into an updated commentary piece, I didn’t know that was happening with Lovecraft’s stories but it’s very encouraging. It’s too bad the characters and plot weren’t quite as exciting for you. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

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