The Ballad of Black Tom

Write on: Wed, 12 Apr 2017 by  in Archive Read 3026

One of NPR's Best Books of 2016

Winner of the 2016 This is Horror Award for Novella of the Year

Finalist for the 2016 Hugo, Nebula, and Bram Stoker Awards

Should be pretty dang good, right?


Well, not sure if you knew this or not, but H.P. Lovecraft was a YUGE bigot. It shone through a lot of his work, but lucky for him, many people saw through his hatred and actually enjoyed what he published. I guess it was pretty easy to look past the racism when there are squid-faced gods and creatures running amok in your novels. 

Well, Victor LaValle comes from a mixed background and actually grew up reading Lovecraft, which makes this book rather interesting. You can tell his reading of The Horror at Red Hook gave him the inspiration to write this novella.  The main character, Tommy Tester, is a young black man in 1920's Harlem. He has to hustle to provide for himself and his father, playing guitar and anything else throughout the city while trying to avoid the mire of cops and wealthy whites he comes across. When he is asked to deliver a package to a recluse in Queens, tables are turned and a door to the unknown is opened. 

LaValle has written something here that is truly phenomenal. He wholly captures the essence of Jazz Age New York with his colorful cast of characters and dark, gloomy environments. It is truly weird fiction, but is an easy novella to pick up. Tor has been on a roll for the last year plus with these novellas and I don't see them stopping any time soon. 


You can grab a copy of The Ballad of Black Tom over on Amazon

If you want to read the piece by Lovecraft that inspired The Ballad of Black Tom, grab The Horror at Red Hook at Amazon



Last modified on Wednesday, 12 April 2017 20:23

David Walters is a real estate agent in Birmingham, AL. When not showing houses or writing up contracts, he spends his time reading and listening to books or spending time with his wife and 2 dogs.

David now writes for