Ringshout by P Djeli Clark
In America, demons wear white hoods.
In 1915, The Birth of a Nation cast a spell across America, swelling the Klan's ranks and drinking deep from the darkest thoughts of white folk. All across the nation they ride, spreading fear and violence among the vulnerable. They plan to bring Hell to Earth. But even Ku Kluxes can die.
Standing in their way is Maryse Boudreaux and her fellow resistance fighters, a foul-mouthed sharpshooter and a Harlem Hellfighter. Armed with blade, bullet, and bomb, they hunt their hunters and send the Klan's demons straight to Hell. But something awful's brewing in Macon, and the war on Hell is about to heat up.
Can Maryse stop the Klan before it ends the world?
Ring Shout by P. Djeli Clark is one of those books that I have been meaning to get to for a long time.
In all honesty, I have not seen a bad review of the book and it has had whole heaps of praise heaped on it.I can see why! It is thoroughly brilliant from the opening to the final lines.
Now, I am quite familiar with P. Djeli Clark's writing having read Dead Djinn in Cairo and The Haunting of Tram Car 015 and was totally enthralled by his story telling abilities. However, Ring Shout is a completely different animal.
The story starts with our hero Maryse Bodreaux and her team watching from on high a Ku Klux Klan march in 1920's America. Immediately from the proclamation of "I hunt monsters" I was utterly transfixed by this book.
The story itself centres around inter dimensional creatures that feed on hate and hide themselves in human form amongst the Klan where they can satiate their hunger on the finest caviar of hate. However, Maryse and her accomplices can spot the shifting faced demons and are able to fight them.
We learn through the eyes of Maryse of these creatures called Ku kluxes, who also gives us the history of the current situation. Telling us that the Klan were actually involved in sorcery and made a pact with these demons in order to further the monstrous cause of the Klan, and not only have they made a deal with these demons, but with the advent of technology, they have managed to embed a virus in a film called The Birth of a Nation, a piece of Klan propaganda made by D.W. Griffiths, that lets the demons have entry and take over a human host and become white, pointy headed monsters.
However, not only do they have Ku Kluxes to deal with, but there is a storm coming and worse is about to break through from the other side that make the Ku Kluxes look like whimpering dogs.
Ring Shout is simply an amazing book in so many ways. P.Djeli Clark is a master of the novella. He is able to pack so much in this form of fiction it's unbelievable.
He writes some of the strongest characters that I have read in fiction. Maryse is so multi faceted and she is supported by a cast of characters that are of just as much import as her. In addition to this, he does not hide from the anger that Maryse feels in relation to the Klan.
For me, Sadie is a stand out character that had me howling with laughter. She is brash and will discuss sensitive subjects with impunity that had me chuckling away.
Now, as you will have probably read in other reviews there is a prominent Lovecraftian edge to Ring Shout. However, I felt that there was so much more and I was thoroughly impressed by the horror chops that P. Deli Clark had on show here. There seemed to be elements of Cronenberg' s Videodrome, especially with the element of film influencing others. Not only that, there seemed to be nods to Brian Yuzna and Clive Barker in there too.
However, whilst there is a veritable feast for the horror fan, the historical elements to the story are solid and there were factual elements that I wasn't aware of. So not only did Ring Shout entertain me, it also educated me too.
Now, I know I have gone kinda gushy on this book, but I can't help it, it's brilliant and I think one of the best books I have read this year, and if you want a more levelled review of the book, I am sure there are some, but you are not going to find it here.
If you read one book in what remains of this year or even in the next, make sure it's Ring Shout, it is utterly stunning.