Sunday, March 27, 2022

When the Reckoning Comes by LaTanya McQueen


WHEN THE RECKONING COMES is so good, I'm honestly surprised that it doesn't have way more reviews. It's kind of like a cross between Octavia Butler's Kindred and Stephen King's Rose Red, in that it's a haunted house story, but also a scathing criticism on the cruelty of slavery, and the way that future generations pave over the past, reimagining it as a picturesque idyll instead of what it really was.

Mira grew up with childhood friends, Jesse and Celine, but then they grew apart and she moves away. When Celine gets married, she phones up Mira and asks her to come to her wedding, which is being held at a recently restored plantation house. Mira is obviously like, what the heck, Celine, are you crazy, and initially refuses, but a phone call from Jesse changes her mind. Jesse, her childhood crush, who grew distant from her as well after one night in a haunted house went so, so wrong... So she decides to go to make things right.

Parts of this book are incredibly disturbing. I have a pretty high bar for disturbing content. This book flung from that bar and did somersaults over it. At the dark core of the Woodsman House is a gruesome history of some of the worst crimes against humanity, which are gradually revealed in pretty horrifying ways. I'm not particularly superstitious but some of my favorite ghost stories revolve around the idea that places of extreme anger or tragedy or pain can become psychic vectors, where all of that bleak emotion seeks into the walls and the floors and turns the house into a place of living, breathing hate and vengeance. I feel like WHEN THE RECKONING COMES buys into that sort of haunted house story, and man, is the payoff good.

My only qualm is that I would have liked more romance between Jesse and Mira, since I really shipped them as a couple, and I felt like the "present" portions of the book weren't quite as compelling as the scenes about their childhood and the historical passages, apart from the scene when Mira comes to the plantation and sees the Disney take on plantation life. It's physically sickening and I thought the author did such a good job with how understated it was, letting it all speak for itself.

This is a horror story, a ghost story, a coming of age story, and a lesson on the importance of social justice, all wrapped up in a bleak and oddly compelling parcel. I'd recommend it to anyone who has the stomach for it, which unfortunately won't be everyone. Read at your own risk.

4.5 out of 5 stars

1 comment:

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.