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Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark #BookReview

D. W. Griffith is a sorcerer, and The Birth of a Nation is a spell that drew upon the darkest thoughts and wishes from the heart of America. Now, rising in power and prominence, the Klan has a plot to unleash Hell on Earth.

Luckily, Maryse Boudreaux has a magic sword and a head full of tales. When she’s not running bootleg whiskey through Prohibition Georgia, she’s fighting monsters she calls “Ku Kluxes.” She’s damn good at it, too. But to confront this ongoing evil, she must journey between worlds to face nightmares made flesh–and her own demons. Together with a foul-mouthed sharpshooter and a Harlem Hellfighter, Maryse sets out to save a world from the hate that would consume it.

Ring Shout by P Djeli Clark book cover

Title: Ring Shout | Author: P. Djèlí Clark | Publisher: Tor | Pub. Date: 12 October 2020 | Pages: 192 | ISBN: 9781250767028 | Genre: Horror | Language: English | Starred Review: Yes | Source: Self purchase

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Ring Shout Review

Some books don’t quite live up to their hype, despite being very good indeed. ‘Ring Shout’ is one. It’s a novel I’ve been hyped to read for months Now that it’s out and I’ve devoured it in two sittings, I can’t help feeling slightly unsatisfied. That’s more about the nature of the publishing world’s publicity machine and my own tendency to get swept up in it, than it is about ‘Ring Shout’. It’s a very good book, and one that manages to walk the difficult tightrope between being fun and having a message. 

Its success is largely down to two things: its brilliant premise and the furious spirit of the SF pulps that infuses every page. If you’ve been exposed to the same hype machine as I was, you’ll know the premise. Set in 1920s America, ‘Ring Shout’ centres on the idea that the Ku Klux Klan is literally populated with demons. Ku Kluxes are hideous inter-dimensional beings that disguise themselves as humans. Klans are humans willingly going along with them in their campaign of hate. Against them are pitted the heroes of the piece, chief amongst them Maryse, a young black woman with a big badass magic sword.

That brings me neatly to the pulp bit. Despite its strong anti-racist theme and its intelligent reinvention of American social history, ‘Ring Shout’ is at its heart a gloriously enjoyable fantasy. It has magic, monsters, epic action scenes and a brilliantly diverse mix of good guys. The writing is full of energy for the pulp parts but has an emotional depth and intelligence elsewhere. Maryse is an engaging character with a moving back story and very good reasons to hate the Ku Kluxes. 

This all adds up to a really entertaining quick read, it might not be quite as good as the hype, but what it is these days?

You can find this book at many retailers via clicking on the appropriate link on Goodreads (Buying direct from retailers is a good way to support indie authors); however, in the spirit of supporting literacy programs, we would like to point out that you may be able to purchase this book through BetterWorldBooks.

Content Warning:


Published inHorror Book ReviewsStarred Reviews


  1. It sounds like a fun idea. I’ll have to check it out. Thanks, Olly!

  2. I am absolutely still hyped for this book, but it sounds as though it may not be as gritty as I was hoping. Loved the review. Really great to hear some thoughts on a book I’m anticipating. Happy reading!

    • Olly_C

      I’m really glad you found the review useful. It’s definitely a book that’s well worth reading.

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