Review: When The Reckoning Comes

I wish I enjoyed reading When The Reckoning Comes more. It makes the review frustrating because my analytical self can’t find much to dislike and many things to like. But my more emotional side wasn’t engaged.

I never found myself caring much about LaTanya McQueen’s protagonist. Again, on paper, there are lots of ways she and I should connect. Both from a small town, felt ostracized but were talented enough to get out into the world and lost touch with our origin. Of course, we’re different in the important area of race – he writes knowing that sounds like he’s got no idea of the magnitude of that – and gender – he writes … . But I do connect with other characters from different worlds, so I don’t feel like it’s that simple. It’s just one of those ineffable things, I guess.

The book itself is a well written hybrid of horror, ghost story, and thriller that never settles down into the conventions of any of those genres. The forces haunting the story are literally and figuratively the plantation that holds up the town, the evils done by the family that owned it and enslaved many, and the locals who helped perpetuate and profit from those evils. Of course, those kind of evils and roots reach into today, manifesting as segregation and profound unfairness at most levels of society.

McQueen connects the horrors of the enslavement to the modern white privilege, and never settles into easy answers about which causal or worse. Similarly she never settles into the rythyms of a specific genre. The result is an uneasiness of the reader that helps propel the story as bodies and horrors pile up.

As I say, I like the ideas and the execution, but my investment never materialized.


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