The Ballad of Black Tom: Novella Review

 The Author


Raised in Queens, New York, Victor LaValle (besides having one of the coolest names) is the author of Slapboxing with JesusThe Ecstatic, Big Machine, The Devil in Silver, and The Changling — along with the two novellas, Lucretia and the Kroons and The Ballad of Black Tom. Besides fiction, LaValle is also the creator of two comic books, DESTROYER and EVE.

In his career, LaValle has become the recipient of many awards such as the World Fantasy Award, British Fantasy Award, Bram Stoker Award, Whiting Writers’ Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, Shirley Jackson Award, American Book Award, and the key to Southeast Queens.

The Book

People move to New York looking for magic and nothing will convince them it isn’t there. – Amazon Landing Page

A haunting reimagining of Lovecraft’s The Horror at Red HookThe Ballad of Black Tom follows the struggles of Tommy Tester who is just trying to take care of his ailing father. Set in1924, Tommy works as a hustler, trying to avoid the (often bigoted) hand of the law, but he soon crosses path with millionaire Robert Suydam, who wants him to help in completing a dark ritual, involving things beyond comprehension.

The Review

One of NPR‘s Best Books of 2016, winner of the Shirley Jackson Award, the British Fantasy Award, the This is Horror Award for Novella of the Year, and a finalist for the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, World Fantasy, and Bram Stoker Awards – Amazon Landing Page

A beautiful, heart-wrenching tale — any fan of cosmic horror needs to read this novella. LaValle manages to pack in a lot of horror into this novella, that I couldn’t put it down. He manages to completely repaint Lovecraft’s tale (the original was rather shallow and lacked complexity) with haunting depths and characters as real as the person next to you.

Again, if you are a cosmic horror fan, you definitely need to read this novella. One of the best Lovecraftian stories in recent years.


X P.L.McMillan

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