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Side by Side Book Review: RING SHOUT by P. Djèlí Clark

Klu Klux Klan members turned into (bigger) monsters under a hex from the Birth of a Nation film and Maryse Boudreaux and friends are not having any of it!  There's so much happening in these short pages and this is a novella that is scary on so many levels.  While this takes place during the prohibition era in Georgia, Clark also peppers in many other historical parts that really shows how much I still need to educate myself.
While this genre mash-up definitely has its humorous side, it's also a mix of injustice, vengeance, hate breeding on top of hate, monstrous humans becoming larger than life actual monsters, historical points and some different horror parts - from sci-fi to fantasy to body horror and some gross descriptions.  Even the parts that might not quite work for you, you still can't look away from.  There is a LOT happening in under 200 pages so strap yourself in and prepare for the bumpy ride.  Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
It did take a little bit for me to quite grasp what was happening and the uniqueness of this journey.  While sometimes this kind of mixed genre read doesn't quite work for me, it does work here.  Not your typical horror novella - this dark magical fantasy will keep you on your tippy toes.
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Ring Shout is a powerful novella blending together dark fantasy, horror, and historical fiction.  In this story, we are thrown into a world where the Klan and Ku Kluxes are literal monsters.  They are beastly and have lots of eyes, mouths, fingers and some even have tentacles.  Body horror galore in this story!   We have a group of Black hunters with magical weapons on a mission to end their reign and the spread of hate in the white supremacist south.  I think it is definitely intentional that Ku Kluxes took on such Lovecraftian guises (given all we know going on there) and P. Djèlí Clark did not hold back one bit.  Our female heroines were a total blast to hang out with and I really could read even more stories featuring them.  This is literal Black girl magic!  This book explores deep rooted racism, all-consuming hate, fear, power, resilience, love, and so much more.  There are so many "in your face" and unapologetic scenes and descriptions, but there are also endless lessons under the surface.  Clark created a whole new world with this novella, but at the same time, did he really?  I had to stop and think about the world quite a few times while reading this magnificent story.  Ring Shout is just totally mind blowing in how it's told and how it makes the reader think and feel.  You are meant to squirm when reading this.  You are meant to read this.  Period.  5 stars!

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Instagram: @findingmontauk1

Twitter: Alex | IG: FindingMontauk1 | LOHF


RING SHOUT by P. Djèlí Clark is one of the best books of 2020. It is so unique and downright spectacular. Tor continues to impress me with their novellas.
The story takes place in Macon, Georgia, during the 1920s Prohibition. G.W. Griffith releases a film called Birth of a Nation, and when Ku Klux Klan members view it, they become evil demons called Ku Kluxes. Our main protagonist, twenty-five-year-old Maryse Boudreaux, is aware of this and takes action along with help from her allies, the resistance fighters. Having a magical sword and the ability to communicate with spirits, she and her friends set out to locate these monsters and kill them before harming an.
This brilliantly written alternate history illustrates the deep-seated racism that exists in America. The imagination in this story is rampant - writing a fantastical alternate history, yet still keeping the topics relevant, blows my mind. And the characters are incredibly well-written. In addition to Maryse, I also loved Sadie, a twenty-one-year-old sharpshooter and Chef, an expert in explosives. The characters in this tiny but mighty book are take-no-prisoners badass! I could go on and on and on.
RING SHOUT is such a remarkable book, complete with magic, gore, violence, phenomenal characters, dark humor, impeccable writing, and an ultra-intelligent plot. Just do me a favor and buy this book!
Thank you so much Tor Publishing for my free copy!

The stakes are so high in this story and the evil is overwhelmingly powerful and scary. Clark moves this tale along at a breakneck pace with edge-of-your-seat suspense. Every chapter ends with a fresh urgency to continue. I want more for this universe. I hope P. Djèlí Clark has more Maryse Boudreaux stories to tell because, even though Ring Shout felt like a complete book and I was not found wanting, I could see the potential for Maryse’s journey to either continue into more quests/adventures or for the author to write some of the backstories to some of the unusual/unique characters. 

Even if we only get Ring Shout out of this universe, it truly is enough. I am enraptured by this book and can’t sing its praises loud enough or long enough. I’ll forever be recommending it as an all-time favorite. FULL CEMETERY DANCE REVIEW

Sadie Hartmann aka Mother Horror reviews horror for Cemetery Dance and
SCREAM Magazine. She is the co-owner of the horror fiction subscription
company, Night Worms. She lives in Tacoma, WA with her husband of 20+ years
where they enjoy perfect weather, street tacos and hanging out with their 3
kids. They have a Frenchie named Owen.

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