A review by forsythia_phlox
Ring shout, or, Hunting Ku Kluxes in the end times, by P. Djèlí Clark

adventurous challenging dark emotional reflective fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated


Horror, fantasy, historical fiction, sci-fi, psychological horror: this book hits so many niches that at times it made my head spin. It's a dizzying and strangely engrossing story heavy on gore and body horror in ways both fantastical and frightening. At times, I felt like I was witnessing a fever dream; other times, like I was viewing a blockbuster film. (Were it not for me having no faith in Hollywood to handle the topic with respect, I would suggest making this into a movie. The mental images played out like one!)

I don't even know how to explain Ring Shout. It was a wild ride I'm glad I boarded, and I would gladly get back in line to do it again if there were a sequel.

That I'm saying this about a book which heavily features the KKK and racism is stunning to me. The fact the story in question blends monsters, aliens, spirits, magic, witchcraft, and folklore together with such a heavy topic then spits it out as something both slightly campy and coherent amazes me.

There were a lot of places where I asked myself wtf was going on, but there were also plenty of points where I felt intense emotion or was just plain entertained. And, as with any good horror, there were parts that made my skin crawl with unease - especially a few gory scenes and the intense exploration of Maryse's past near the end.

Don't go into this if you hate reading in dialects (the entire story is written in such a way and there's one character with a very strong and hard to understand manner of speaking), don't want to deal with on-page racism including slurs, or can't handle serious body horror. Otherwise, though, I'd suggest giving it a chance. The subject matter nearly scared me away, and I'm glad I didn't let it.

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