Thursday 27 August 2020

Book Review: The Black God's Drums by P Djèlí Clarke narrated by Channie Waites

The Black God's Drums The Black God's Drums by P. Djèlí Clark
Continuing my reading of this author's works.

This is set in an alternative history where the 18/19 century Haitain slave rebellion's reach was much greater impacting the whole Caribbean, but the US civil war continued and a free and independent New Orleans was created.

It is here that street kid "Creeper" comes into possession of some important and sellable information about the whereabouts of a kidnapped Haitian scientist who invented a new and terrible weapon "The Black God's Drums" and who is now in the hands of a smuggler who is making a deal to hand him over with Confederates.

Whereas in A Dead Djinn in Cairo and The Haunting of Tram Car 015 PDC interwove Arabic culture and folklore here he uses Yoruba dieties from Nigeria to infuse spirit into his female lead characters who carry the goddess Oya and Oshun's within them as per his dedication on the book's opening page "To those who survived the crossing, and who carried their Black gods with them". It is this melding of cultures that appeals to me in his work.

I loved the character of teenager Creeper, strong with the spirit of Oya the goddess of wind, streetwise, knows what she wants - to see the world. The information she uncoveres about the scientist offers her a means of becoming crew on the famous airship Midnight Robber whose captain is also endowed with the spirit of Oshun the goddess of water. How these two women save scientist, stop the use of the weapon and save the day for New Orleans and the world is a classic story but the scene where the goddesses come into action is well done and highly visual.

The audible version is read by a naarator called Channie Waites who does a great job making PDC's often weird sentance structures transform into a vibrant dialect and thus his characters become real and leap of the page with life, particular Creeper.

Just like in his Cairo works PDC creates a novel landscape in which to play out his story. Not great literature but another great piece of rollicking good storytelling.

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1 comment:

  1. There's a fine interview with the author about this novella at