Lovecraft Country Review (Horror / Historical Fiction)

Book cover for Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff

Lovecraft Country: The critically acclaimed cult novelist makes visceral the terrors of life in Jim Crow America and its lingering effects in this brilliant and wondrous work of the imagination that melds historical fiction, pulp noir, and Lovecraftian horror and fantasy

Chicago, 1954. When his father Montrose goes missing, twenty-two-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 Atticus’s great grandmother—they encounter both mundane terrors of white America and malevolent spirits that seem straight out of the weird tales George devours.

At the manor, Atticus discovers his father in chains, held prisoner by a secret cabal named the Order of the Ancient Dawn—led by Samuel Braithwhite and his son Caleb—which has gathered to orchestrate a ritual that shockingly centers on Atticus. And his one hope of salvation may be the seed of his—and the whole Turner clan’s—destruction.

A chimerical blend of magic, power, hope, and freedom that stretches across time, touching diverse members of one black family, Lovecraft Country is a devastating kaleidoscopic portrait of racism—the terrifying specter that continues to haunt us today. – Goodreads


Lovecraft Country Review


Lovecraft Country was a book mainly comprised of elements that I don’t particularly enjoy. It was set in a time period (the 50’s) that means nothing to me. One of the main themes of the book (racism) is something that I can understand intellectually, but not really emotionally. The chapters were also allotted to various members of the family. While some people like this, I hated that I never got to really know any one character. So it would be easy for me to say I didn’t particularly enjoy this book. But, surprisingly, I did like it.

It took a while for Lovecraft Country to hook me. I was always interested in it, but never to the point that I had to sit down and read it. It probably wasn’t until around page 260 or so that I felt compelled to finish the story. I don’t think it was until the supernatural elements were taking hold in the story that I perked up. Until that time, I  felt sorry for the struggles of the Turners and curious about the bits of supernatural elements.

Even though stuff does happen almost from the beginning, Lovecraft Country has a slow-burn feel to it. Matt Ruff lets the atmosphere of that era in history build up to horror inside your mind before he introduces the horror you were expecting. I can’t speak for how accurate the dialogue is during that time, but it felt believable. The action scenes, both supernatural and otherwise, were well-written. While I wasn’t particularly invested in any of the characters, I did find myself admiring Letitia and Atticus. Specifically, Letitia’s spirit and Atticus’ refusal to back down from anything. Letitia is the type of spirited female you want to cheer for.

Lovecraft Country does a good job of making us aware of just how far we’ve come in a relatively short amount of time. It also sends shivers down my spine considering the current state of unrest our country is in.

Past horror and supernatural horror combined is a surprisingly effective combination that Matt Ruff utilizes at near maximum efficiency.  Lovecraft Country isn’t a book that keeps you on the edge of your seat, but it’s one you won’t quickly forget.

Lovecraft Country

Title: Lovecraft Country | Author: Matt Ruff (site) | Publisher: Harper | Pub. Date: 2016-2-16 | Pages: 372 | ISBN13: 9780062292063 | Genre: Horror & Historical Fiction | Language: English | Triggers: Racism | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: Library | Purchase on Amazon

2 thoughts on “Lovecraft Country Review (Horror / Historical Fiction)

  1. I thought the publisher did this book a disservice by promoting it (on the cover, no less) as a full-length novel versus what it really is: an anthology of seven loosely related novellas/short stories in which supporting characters in one segment step to the foreground in the next. Furthermore, the episodic structure begat a lack of narrative urgency that kept this from being a page-turner, alas. I admire what Ruff attempted to achieve with this book, I just don’t know that his efforts were entirely successful. (My full review is on Goodreads.)

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