Wednesday 29 August 2018

Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff

A month ago, I was having an email discussion with an old friend about modern Lovecraftian writers, and he strongly suggested I check out Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff. Well, I’ve just finished it, and it is a fantastic piece of writing.

Set in Chicago in the early nineteen-fifties, the novel follows an extended family of black Americans as they deal with the double threat of societal racism and a cabal of sorcerers. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the novel is its structure. It is told episodically, with each section focusing on a different member of the family. Each section is almost its own little short story, and draws upon a different tradition of speculative fiction: gothic, science-fiction, modern horror, urban fantasy…

The main characters in the book are a strong, interesting, and diverse lot, and even the antagonist is memorable and intriguing, if not overly sympathetic.

I have two minor complaints about the book. The biggest one is that after such a strong narrative, the ending comes off a bit flat. It’s a little easy and lacks a real crescendo. The other is that, despite its title, it isn’t really Lovecraftian. It certainly borrows a few elements, mostly early in the novel, but actually lacks any kind of Lovecraftian tone. This doesn’t bother me much, but might annoy some people who come looking for a classic Cthulhu Mythos type story.

These points aside, the book is a triumph of creativity and writing, and I would recommend it to anyone who likes fantasy or horror.

I see that HBO is developing a series based on the book. If they pull it off, it should be an awesome spectacle, with some seriously good characters…


  1. HBO, Amazon Prime or Netflix seem to be "developing" series based on just about everything. I'm surprised Frostgrave isn't one of them. If not, there's an old shopping list in my wallet which I'm happy to option to any one of them....

    1. It does seem that way, although in this case, I can completely understand the decision. Anyone who would like to develop a Frostgrave t.v. series or movie, please contact Osprey Publishing...(no really, please!).