by Matt Ruff
- Format Read – Paperback
- How did I get this book – Purchased
- Date Read – September 6th – 9th
- Genre – Horror/Supernatural/Fantasy
- Publisher – Picador
Chicago, 1954. When his father Montrose goes missing, 22-year-old Army veteran Atticus Turner embarks on a road trip to New England to find him, accompanied by his Uncle George — publisher of The Safe Negro Travel Guide — and his childhood friend Letitia. On their journey to the manor of Mr. Braithwhite — heir to the estate that owned one of Atticus’s ancestors — they encounter both mundane terrors of white America and malevolent spirits that seem straight out of the weird tales George devours.from Goodreads
Racism in 1950’s America mixed with Lovecraftian horror, science fiction and fantasy…. it probably sounds like it shouldn’t work, but it really does
I had spotted Lovecraft Country on Sky Atlantic (Or HBO in the US) but hadn’t watched it yet, despite saving it to my list. Then found out that it was a book first. Of course my brain wouldn’t allow me to watch the show without having read the book, so when I spotted it at the weekend it was an easy decision to buy it. Then I did something I rarely do these days, I finished the book I was reading and read the book I had just bought! Queue glaring looks from my tumbling TBR piles (yes, there are multiple TBR piles in my apartment, it’s an addiction).
Given the blurb, and what little I had heard about the TV show, the book certainly wasn’t what I was expecting in terms of the overall story. I thought I was getting a book about a man searching for his father with his uncle and his friend in 1950’s America. However, this turns out to just be the start of the book, not the entire story. The book as a whole, to me at least, read more like a collection of short stories. Each chapter, or section, is connected to the previous in that the same characters are mentioned, but the protagonist in each chapter is different, as is the plot.
For example, as mentioned the first part of the novel is about Atticus trying to find his dad. He takes a road trip, meets racists, etc etc…. no spoilers here. In the next chapter/section his friend Letitia becomes the focal point (deservedly so, she’s a badass, probably my favourite character in the book). She comes into some money and decides she wants to buy a house and rent out it’s rooms. Atticus appears, briefly, but the story is largely about her and her troubles in buying the house and moving in. Without spoiling anything, these are “Lovecraft” stories…. what do you think is wrong with the house?
In saying all of this, I thought it was absolutely fantastic work. It was a really addictive read, and each story worked brilliantly. While it is billed as horror, it wasn’t overly scary in terms of monsters and daemons. Far scarier is the seemingly ubiquitous racism evident in the US at the time.
Highly recommend this one.