Author: P. Djeli Clark
Release: August 21st 2018
I received a copy of The Black God’s Drums through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
The Black God’s Drums is the first novella I’ve read by P. Djeli Clark, but I’ve got to say that I’m officially hooked. Her writing style and techniques are flawless. Here we have a blend of genres, yet the novella never once feels conflicted in what it is.
The Black God’s Drums is both alternate history and urban fantasy rolled into one. It’s also a little bit a coming of age story, which was a nice touch. Add a dash of Steampunk for good luck and you’ve got a perfectly balanced and extremely unique novella.
It relies heavily on local mythology, so the local accents used are a wonderful touch. The entire plot itself it based in New Orleans, but it doesn’t take long for us to learn that what is happening here could have far greater reach than that.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I first picked up The Black God’s Drums. I knew it was being published by Tor, and honestly that holds a lot of weight for me, and that it was based in New Orleans, but that was nearly it. Obviously the title gave me a few hints as well, but not as much as I would have liked.
What I got though? What I got was a compelling story. One that wrapped up so many elements and somehow managed to make it all its own. We’ve all read stories where a youth sees or does something that quickly gets them in over their head. However, P. Djeli Clark managed to make that whole concept unique and fresh again. Creeper (not her true name, naturally, but her preferred one to be sure) is a girl living out on the streets. She’s quick, bright, and shockingly observant. There’s likely nothing that goes through the docks that she isn’t aware of.
And that’s exactly the reason she found herself in a spot of trouble. It’s amazing how dangerous information can be. What’s more dangerous though, is allowing others to act on that information. I don’t think Creeper intended to get as wrapped up in this adventure as she did…but she handled herself well.
This novella was beautifully written. I’ll admit that I’m not always a fan of alternative history novels…but this one really managed to grab and hold my attention. The addition of the fantasy and steampunk elements really helped sell it too, so that’s a major plus. More than that though, the characters and the emotions they carried were so real, how could I possibly been anything other than charmed by them?
The Black God’s Drums ended in a way where it could very easily get a sequel…and I’m really hoping it does. In fact, I would love it if this became a series. I so badly want to see more of this world, and more of Creeper’s adventures. I want to see more of her goddess’s quirks and opinions, and I want to see if Creeper ever manages to get out of New Orleans. In short, I really just want another novella or two. Or three.