Publication date : August 21st, 2018
Publisher : Tor.com
Genre : Adult | Historical Fiction/sci-fi
Page Count: 211
Synopsis : Creeper, a scrappy young teen, is done living on the streets of New Orleans. Instead, she wants to soar, and her sights are set on securing passage aboard the smuggler airship Midnight Robber. Her ticket: earning Captain Ann-Marie’s trust using a secret about a kidnapped Haitian scientist and a mysterious weapon he calls The Black God’s Drums.
But Creeper keeps another secret close to heart–Oya, the African orisha of the wind and storms, who speaks inside her head and grants her divine powers. And Oya has her own priorities concerning Creeper and Ann-Marie… (from Goodreads)
*I received a copy of this book from Tor.com in exchange of an honest review*
CW: Storm, drowning, physical fights, gunshots.
Honestly, the minute I was contacted to review The Black God’s Drums, its concept drew me in and I knew I HAD to read it. That and the fact that it includes some of my favourite elements: Take post-confederate alternate history, mix it with a kick-ass all black cast, some afro-futuristic tidbits and African folklore and you have me in your pocket. And the actual book did not disappoint, it was everything I wanted and nailed every aspect of the story on the head! (Is that something that’s said in English? We’ll go with it either way)
The writing was probably one of my favourite parts of the book, along with the setting, the characters, and…uh you get the point. But back to the writing, it’s so unapologetically black and I adored it, it’s mainly a mix of English and Creole with the littlest bit of Afrikaans thrown in there. It just added so much life and soul to the book as opposed to if it were written in English alone. The Black God’s Drums, is also fairly short, but it packs a solid punch of action, and feeling in just a little over 100 pages.
The main challenge for novellas like this is to set the world, develop the characters and set in motion a plot AND wrap it up in a limited amount of pages, and I think Clark has succeeded at it. I was sucked into this 18th century alternate history New Orleans VERY fast, where the south was basically able to keep all its territories, and i loved how that was meshed together with some elements with lowkey sci-fi vibes like airships and mysterious weapons and the like. It was a mix I would never have thought would work together but in the way the author did it, it made me realize that anyone would be silly to think they would NOT work together.
The plot takes only a couple pages to be set in motion, we know from early on what the endgame is and what the main character needs to do to get it done and it all happens so fast, the book picks up the pace and never brings it back down, it just keeps on going until you realize you’ve read the entire book in just a little two hours and that you’ve neglected all adulting responsibilities. It’s extremely fun and addicting! And so so so atmospheric, I could feel myself walking through the streets of New Orleans, experiencing it, just through this book, everything is so vivid, it comes to life. It’s also worthy to note that The Black God’s Drums discusses societal issues like the war and its aftermath on black folks as well as slavery and it does so with great detail.
I loved the fact though it’s technically written from one perspective, Creeper‘s, we essentially have two main characters (in addition to the Goddess Oya) that we got to know almost as well as we got to know Creeper even ifshe didn’t really get a proper POV. First and foremost, we have Creeper, she’s such a sassy, spunky kid who knows exactly what she wants and isn’t afraid to go after it. She’s fourteen, holds head and argues against people two or three times her age and never lets anyone intimidate her into anything. One thing that stands out about her is that she has Oya, the Orisha of wind and destruction insid her and the way they work is so great. They’re like two siblings (…in one body…) who fight and bicker but who are also extremely protective of each other. Creeper is fully accepting of Oya and the power coursing through her and because of that they’re in complete symbiosis, even when they disagree.
Then there’s Ann-Marie, the haïtian captain of an airship and probably my favourite character. She’s so confident, strong and straight up badass. She commands respect and is proud as heck. She’s also mga (multiple gender attracted) with a preference for women, from what I gathered, AND an amputee with a mechanical leg. And the fact that these just *are*, that they’re never made to be a big deal whatsoever meant a whole lot to me. I cannot talk about characters without talking about the gossip-y murderous nuns whom I ADORED, they run a shelter and protect a whole lot of people who have no one else and they also know everything going on in the city and casually have weapons laying around.
If you’re looking for a quick book that’s also fun with a rich world and kickass and sassy characters, this is the book for you!
That’s it until next time.
Did you read The Black God’s Drums? If so, what did you think?
Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.