Review: The Black God’s Drums by P. Djélí Clark

Books Historical Fiction Science Fiction

The Black God’s Drums is a rip roaring alternate history set during the Civil War that will blow your mind. I had high hopes for this book, and it didn’t disappoint me one bit.

The Black God's Drums CoverCreeper, 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.This

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…

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I received an eARC of The Black God’s Drums from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This novel needs trigger warnings for mentioned parental deaths (during battle and due to illness), homelessness, mentioned pedophilia, kidnapping of a side character and possession by a god.

The Black God’s Drums is heavily focused on the Yoruba gods in a way that’s totally accessible to those who don’t know anything about that pantheon. However, I think it avoids being infantilizing to those who do know their mythos.

Our main character, called Creeper or Jacqueline depending on who you ask, is possessed by Oya, the Yoruba goddess of winds, lightning, and violent storms, death and rebirth. The captain that we get to meet is possessed by Oshun, the Yoruba goddess of rivers and fresh water, luxury and pleasure, sexuality and fertility, and beauty and love. It’s not really possession by the gods, so much as cohabiting within their brains, but I can’t think of a better word for it. These gods play a huge part in this story, to my delight.

It’s got clever and devious nuns, which I loved. It’s also told in first person with a dialect that will be familiar to many who know New Orleans. I think this would make an excellent audiobook, because the dialect was rich and understandable for me. This might be a turn off for some readers, though.

The Black God’s Drums will be a great read for fans of African  mythology and alternate histories.  Fans of Justina Ireland’s Dread Nation and Sarah Gailey’s River of Teeth duology will also find it a delight. I think it would also do well for fans of Nicky Drayden’s Temper, because of the possession aspect, though it has a very different feeling to it.

If this sounds up your alley, you can pick up a copy of The Black God’s Drums for yourself on Amazon or Indiebound. I highly recommend it.

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Disclaimer: All links to Indiebound and Amazon are affiliate links. If you buy through those links, LFAI will make a small amount of money off of the sale.

ABOUT THE BLACK GOD'S DRUMS

Title: The Black God’s Drums

Author: P. Djèlí Clark

Publisher: Tor.com

Length: 110 Pages

Release Date: August 21, 2018

Rating: ★★★★★ / Five stars

Genre: Alternate History Science Fiction

Representation: Black main character, orphaned main character, sex worker parent,