A review by madarauchiha
A Spectral Hue, by Craig Laurance Gidney

adventurous dark emotional hopeful inspiring mysterious sad tense slow-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? Yes


     ❤️ 🧡 💛 💚 💙 💜  my about / byf / CW info carrd: uchiha-madara 💜 💙 💚 💛 🧡 ❤️
To start with, I'll be clear I'm I'm nonblack [filipino american specifically] so this book definitely not meant for me as an audience. That's extremely obvious. This book is by a gay Black man for a Black audience. So everything I say here comes from an outsider's perspective. 

The prose is STUNNING. MAGNIFICENT. Every paragraph describing a scene is a delicious, satisfying meal. It's perfectly edited. You will reread this for years to come, as will I. It is a ghost story, but it's not a classic ghost story as portrayed in white media. It's haunting, but it's not a creeping horror that one fears. I think it's a great portrayal of link between generations, regardless of biological or lawful relations. The colorful descriptions were perfect and felt absolutely natural to every scene. This isn't a solely qu**r story. There are definitely mentions of gay, trans characters. But the focus is mainly on a gay black man and a lesbian woman, and their past relationships. They are explicitly gay and this does matter for the plot. Please don't go into this expecting an entirely lgbt focused horror story just because some tiktok vid said so.

The characters. I won't talk about all of them but these two. One of which I feel I should mention for others intending to read the book.

Iris. Oh Iris my beloved, I really loved her. Following along how she grew up was a perfect way to have a cohesive timeline among the rotating cast and shifting time periods. The way her character arc ends, how she ties everything together and wonderfully done. Plus the link between her and a character in another time period was a great mirroring. I hope that makes sense, I'm trying not to spoil it. Also I admire her for
Spoiler maybe fucking a ghost? Wow. Goals. Absolutely fantastic. Kinda weird how that happened if I may be frank. There is ambiguity, but kitchen sex? Oh yeah, good for you ladies!

Linc. I have some issue with portraying people with drug addiction in a poor light. I felt like that was kinda happening here, but for the most part that was the point of Linc's character. There's absolutely a drug problem within the community of gay Black people, specifically men in this case. I am glad in some way that this is touched upon. It's not a black or white situation and I'm not trying to make it have to be. But just keep it in mind, imo.

Additionally, there may have been some anti sex worker sentiment, in just one portion it's outlined explicitly. I'm not a SWer so I'm not making a judgement call. I noticed it because often people will show SW as something negative and a line of work forced upon people. That's not SW, that's human trafficking.
Again, like the drug addiction portrayal, this is hand in hand with the characterization and actual real life issues gay Black people experience. It's not a bad thing to have shown in a fictional book, but keep in mind it's one facet of a larger picture.
This is the excerpt I'm talking about.

Spoiler —She says Daddy and her think about you constantly. They would love to hear from you. They’re happy to know you’re clean.
Clean. The word, in this context, was repulsive. All the nights he slept in the park, washed up in bus station bathrooms, begged on the streets of DC, Baltimore and Wilmington came back to him. The second skin of grime that washed down the drain of a shelter’s shower. Sucking cock, having his own sucked for money, the horrible passionless orgasmless mechanics of sex for cash. Was he Clean? No. He was cleaner. But he still felt the stains that no amount of scrubbing would vanquish.

The Ghost.
GOD. PLOT TWIST BUT ITS PERFECTLY EXECUTED? I'm not sure this is even a plot twist as much as it's 'oh, THAT is what that is!'. I refuse to spoil it here, but my god. What a punch straight to my heart learning about the ghost. And such a brief revelation that told me everything I needed to know! AND it was set up earlier with mentions of the location! And how the ghost couldn't enter houses too?! God this novel needs every sort of book award under the sun.

Content warnings for sensitive readers, regarding Black slavery and ableism in this novel [no major spoilers, just general spoilers if one wishes to go into this fully unaware / blind.]  I do want to warn Black readers going into this. This isn't to discourage anyone from reading this. I think it's a wonderfully written novel, and that a gay Black author has shown a beautiful, hopeful story of intergenerational trauma, haunting, Black history, and Black community. 

Black slavery.
SpoilerBlack slavery is absolutely a key theme to this novel, and there are explicit portrayals of it through out the book. There are mentions of phsysical abuse involved with Black slavery, but they brief and lot lingered upon. There are often used racial slurs and racial pejoratives through the book as well, usually in the scenes involving Black slavery. This is not traumaporn. But it is traumatizing to read. 
Spoiler Ableism is also a theme here. From Black people with Vitiligo disease in carnival freak shows to discrimination against people who use drugs to synesthesia and mental illness. It's very much present, in the forefront and background. I'm not making a judgement call as saying 'oh, the author is bad because he never showed this as an after school special where it's made explicitly clear that ableism = bad'. I'm saying this as fair warning. I think it was handled with care and not as a point of why something was bad and horrifying. I think it was a great theme in the book how anyone and any behavior not neurotypical or aligned with racist white supremacist social standards was automatically maligned and cast out and designated as 'less than'. It's going to grate on you, subtly, and you will notice it. It's like sitting on a chair made out of cheese graters. After a few hours, you will notice its affect on you.

Content Warnings list
minor AIDs serophobia, age gaps, animal death, arson, body horror, cancer, cults, death, domestic abuse, drug use, excrement, gore, hate crime, injuries, medical content, menstruation, pedophilia, q slur reclaimed, racist n word, sexual abuse, suicide, torture

medium ableism, ableist language, addiction, anti sex worker sentiment?, child abuse, drug abuse, homophobia, medical content, sexual content, sexual content

major ableism, alcoholism, anti black racism, child abuse, child abuse, black slavery, racial slurs, religion, religion christianity, slavery, unreality 

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