Hello dear reader(s) and welcome back to the blog! I know it’s been a long time since I reviewed something for you… I have been reading and catching up on my reading, but I’ll write more about this in a dedicated blog post. However, this October I participated in another Dewey’s Readathon (the next one is on April 6th 2019) and that helped me get back in the reading saddle so to speak. 😀 Anyway, for this instalment of Nessa reads and reviews I present P. Djèlí Clark’s The Black God’s Drums. If the author’s name sounds familiar to you, I’ve already reviewed his novelette A Dead Djinn in Cairo on the blog so you can check out that post. If you haven’t read that, well it’s as good a time as any. I’ll wait, we have all the time in the world. 🙂
The Black God’s Drums is set in an alternative, steampunk version of New Orleans that is in a very precarious position. This New Orleans is the neutral zone between the Union and the Confederate States and it owes its neutrality and protection to outside factors (British, French and Haitian). This 2 sentence description might intrigue you, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense. That’s OK, because there’s method to my madness 😀 and it’s my way to push you to read the book and to check out the author’s blog post about the book and his even more interesting post titled Histories and Worldbuilding in The Black God’s Drums. What are y’all still standing around here for? Go read this and come back when you’re done you silly rabbits! 😀
Alright, alright I’ll stop redirecting you and get to the review part of this post, ‘cause that’s what we’re here for. I’ve read The Black God’s Drums during the late hours of the latest Dewey’s readathon (I have Tweets and photos of that!) and I’ve been mulling about this review for a solid week now… Thinking about how to structure this review, how to summarise its plot without giving anything away and generally how to describe P. Djèlí Clark’s writing style. The best I’ve came up with is food analogies.
I know, I know, you’re looking at me like Boromir here, but bear with. Like I said there is method to my madness. Usually. 😀 P. Djèlí Clark’s writing style reminds me a lot on those beautiful little tortes you see in the windows of those fancy patisseries. They are exquisitely decorated, so gorgeous to look at, Instagramable AF and you kind of don’t want to eat them because they’re too pretty to be eaten. So you carefully take a 100 photos of said torte (I can neither confirm nor deny that I do this with exquisitely decorated pastries) put it on Instagram with #nofilter #OMG #amazing and whatever other hashtags come to your mind. But, and here you must listen, the best part comes when you actually get to taste the torte. The explosion of sublimely blended flavours in your mouth that makes you feel that heaven is eating this torte and drinking a cup of the best coffee blend with spices…
That ladies and gentlemen is what you get in P. Djèlí Clark’s The Black God’s Drums! It’s short, but it packs a punch! For such a short novel the world in which its set is intricate and well developed. Before I even read the author’s post on worldbuilding I knew that a lot of historical research went into making this look and feel right and real. His characters are unique, fascinating, full of life and frankly some of them are quite unexpected. I’m looking at you nuns! 😀 It’s a wonderfully vivid, mesmerising and fun book that sucks you in right at the start and a few hours later you’re like:
Before I wrap up I’d just like to point out a few things of interest in the book. I’m aware that the book draws inspiration from Afro-Caribbean-American history, folklore and tradition that I’m not too familiar with, and that I’m most certainly missing something or a lot of things in my reading. And as a 33-year-old Caucasian historian from Croatia this novel might not have the same emotional and cultural effect as it will have on a POC or someone who is more familiar with the history, folklore and tradition of Afro-Caribbean-American people. Wow this was a mouthful… But does this mean you can’t enjoy and like the book if you don’t have the background information to get every nuance of the story? Of course not! No matter how much or how little you know about the things that are mentioned in the book it will not diminish your enjoyment of the story. The Black God’s Drums is an amazing book and a pure delight to read! So you should definitely pick this up and read it! And if you need some soundtrack recommendations to get you in the mood might I suggest Ludwig Goransson’s Black Panther soundtrack which I listened to while reading this, or even better some New Orleans jazz music. 🙂 Please let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@NarratriceNessa) did you read the book, are you planning to read it, what do you think about it, what’s the best soundtrack for the book… Or you know let’s just chat about books 🙂 Until next time dear reader(s)!