The Ballad of Black Tom

The Ballad of Black Tom

eBook - 2016
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"People move to New York looking for magic and nothing will convince them it isn't there. Charles Thomas Tester hustles to put food on the table, keep the roof over his father's head, from Harlem to Flushing Meadows to Red Hook. He knows what magic a suit can cast, the invisibility a guitar case can provide, and the curse written on his skin that attracts the eye of wealthy white folks and their cops. But when he delivers an occult tome to a reclusive sorceress in the heart of Queens, Tom opens a door to a deeper realm of magic, and earns the attention of things best left sleeping. A storm that might swallow the world is building in Brooklyn. Will Black Tom live to see it break?"--provided from Amazon.com.
Publisher: New York : A Tom Doherty Associates Book, 2016
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780765386618
0765386615
Branch Call Number: EBOOK OVERDRIVE
Characteristics: 1 online resource (151 pages)

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isaachar
Jun 06, 2017

I really liked this book! Other reviewers mention the similarities between this and Matt Ruff's 'Lovecraft Country'. Without spoiling the plots, there are a lot of similarities. Both stories deal with characters of color dealing with 20th century racism. Both stories involve Lovecraft magic, and a wealthy benefactor offering to recruit a talented acolyte. The two stories could almost fit in the same universe, except for a few key differences. Lovecraft Country mentions Lovecraft explicitly, the the story makes subtle implications that the classical authors' writings were based on pre-existing actual magic. Lovecraft's stories often did the same with allusions to works by Alister Crawley and Lord Dunsunay. Ballad of Black Tom occurs within the Lovecraft universe. Without spoiling, by the middle of the story, most readers of Lovecraft will recognize the references to creatures and places from the Mythos. There is even a very brief 'cameo' appearance of a character from 'The Curious Case of Dexter Ward'.

All in all, it's a very short (almost a short story), enjoyable read.

l
lukasevansherman
Aug 25, 2016

Part of the burden of loving the highly influential weird tale master H.P. Lovecraft is contending with his virulent racism, which sometimes crept into his stories. This year, we've had two books use Lovecraft as a jumping off point to explore race and racism: Matt Ruff's "Lovecraft Country" and Victor LaValle's "The Ballad of Black Tom." Ruff's book was a little more political, while LaValle's is a little more horror. Both are worth reading, especially if you're familiar with Lovecraft. LaValle's reworks a Lovecraft store, but with a black protagonist and Harlem setting.

s
shayshortt
Aug 09, 2016

The Ballad of Black Tom is based on the H.P. Lovecraft story The Horror at Red Hook. Victor LaValle has managed to take a plodding and shockingly racist story, and spin it into a nuanced exploration both of Lovecraft’s continued influence on the horror genre, and its correlation to the continued strain on race relations in America today. Full review: https://shayshortt.com/2016/08/09/the-ballad-of-black-tom/

There's a slow, winding rhythm to this story. If you take your time and let it, that rhythm will draw you right in, carry you through magic, horror, and heartbreak, and let you out the other side awed and profoundly moved.

c
CMLibrary_gjd_0
Jun 07, 2016

This was a perfect bus read; short, sweet (not really-too scary) & easy to get in and out of. This story is a take off on the HP Lovecraft story Murder at Red Hook. Beware this historical fiction uses language that would have been used during the time. This can grate on our senses, but is historically accurate. Nice little horror/thriller story.

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shayshortt
Aug 09, 2016

Mankind didn’t make messes; mankind was the mess.

s
shayshortt
Aug 09, 2016

At the sight of the heavy machine guns the whole neighborhood gasped as one. These guns were designed to shoot airplanes out of the sky. Much of the local population had fled countries under siege, in the midst of war, and had not expected to find such artillery used against citizens of the United States.

s
shayshortt
Aug 09, 2016

Becoming unremarkable, invisible, compliant—these were useful tricks for a black man in an all-white neighbourhood. Survival techniques.

s
shayshortt
Aug 09, 2016

People who move to New York always make the same mistake. They can’t see the place. This is true of Manhattan, but even the outer boroughs, too, be it Flatbush Meadows in Queens or Red Hook in Brooklyn. They come looking for magic, whether evil or good, and nothing will convince them it isn’t here.

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shayshortt
Aug 09, 2016

Charles Thomas Tester could be called a scammer, a swindler, a con, or a charlatan. He calls himself an entertainer, and hustles for room and board for himself and his father, a middle-aged man made old by back-breaking labour as a bricklayer. Tommy puts on a good appearance in his second-hand suit, hustling the arcane by skirting the rules without ever breaking them. But when he catches the attention of Robert Suydam, a wealthy, reclusive scholar of ancient traditions, he finds himself in deep with New York’s magical underworld. Human and supernatural forces are descending on Red Hook, and Black Tom is caught in the middle.

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