Set in an alternative steampunked 1871 New Orleans, P. Djeli Clark’s novella The Black God’s Drum is a masterfully told tale of a street girl named Creeper, who is trying her best to pull herself up out of the muck. In an atmosphere of simmering truces, Creeper sees an opportunity when she overhears a weapon deal being made, a weapon that could enable one side to literally turn the tides of the war. She takes off to find someone to sell this intelligence to and broaches a deal with a smuggling dirigible captain. Powerful magic and strong histories pull these two from the quarters to the swamps as they try to hijack the deal and maybe even save the city.
Clark’s tangible descriptions of the streets of New Orleans are most vivid and colorful. The music, language, food, Mardi Gra costumes, the architecture, and the people. His world-building is an expansive and engrossing treat. Here lies my biggest criticism: the book just isn’t long enough! I definitely want to read more about Creeper. More action, more weapon-hoarding nuns, more time in this fascinating setting. Please.
5 out of 5 stars.
Releases on August 21st.
Thank you to NetGalley, Macmillan – Tor/ Forge, and P. Djeli Clark for the advanced copy for review.