The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle

“Some people know things about the universe that nobody ought to know, and can do things that nobody ought to be able to do,” he said. “I am one of those few. Let me show you.” – The epigram to “The Horror at Red Hook” by H.P. Lovecraft

This novella takes its inspiration from “The Horror at Red Hook” both in the magic and terror of the urban landscape as well as Lovecraft’s blatant racism. In this “maze of hybrid squalor,” LaValle takes the story to another level and does so with it more sophistication than Lovecraft could ever have hoped to achieve.

H.P. Lovecraft has left a disturbing legacy and The Ballad of Black Tom is one way to account for it and confront it. There is evil in the world and it must be addressed. Some may succumb to the temptations of power derived from the Great Old Ones. Some may lose their soul in the pursuit of justice. This is an original take on the Cthulhu mythos and a marvelous horror story in its own right.

Character development, plot, dialogue and a genuine sense of supernatural peril thrive in LaValle’s hands. This is both a worthy acknowledgment to the craft and innovation of Lovecraft and an indictment of his flaws done with superior skill and subtlety.