Cover Image: When the Reckoning Comes

When the Reckoning Comes

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Member Reviews

OMG this book is so incredible.  The ancestors crying out for justice. All of our pasts are intertwined. The sins of the father are paid in blood generations later. But can Mira and Jessie carry the burden of it on their soul? Two old friends realizing that they hold the fate of the descendants of slave holders in their hands at a plantation wedding. But is it already too late? Will the guests blood be the reparations that the ancestors seek? And what happens when to Mira and Jessie when blood begins to spill...?

This books themes are so heavy and relevant and worthy of more than a book club discussion. This need to be discourse in a classroom, a town hall, the senate floor. It may be a horror book but it also reflects the oh too real horror of slavery. 

I loved this book. The best ghost story I've ever read!
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When The Reckoning Comes is a gothic horror unlike any I’ve read before. It imbues all the doom of foggy moors, but with an even more horrifying setting than a victorian mansion: a southern American plantation. The haunting magnitude of the torture experienced on plantations throughout the south is embodied by the avenging spirits of murdered slaves on the Woodsman plantation. Not only is the anxiety palpable, but the roiling, unsettling, disturbed feelings brought on by the narrator’s strong delivery make the audiobook a nail-biting listen. The writing was so visual, I kept seeing this tale of a modern plantation wedding turned ghost uprising into a movie. I’m sure Jordan Peele could do it justice. 

Warning: The depictions of slave torture were graphic and hard to take, but they served a clearly defined purpose. 

Thanks to NetGalley for the early listen.
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This a a really great book. As a white person, some parts felt uncomfortable, but that's a good thing sometimes. This book tackles some really gruesome stuff, and some parts are not for the faint of heart. If you like reading about the United States horrid past, or enjoy the uncomfortable space, I would read this. It really is a great book. Well written. Very poignant.
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How do we reckon with our collective history as a country where slavery and racist violence reigned supreme over the land? How do we reckon with our present upsurge in racist violence and broad whitewashing of our history? When will our past reckon with us?

That is the basis for McQueen's "When the Reckoning Comes" and what makes it such a thrilling read. I picked up the book, because I was reminded of Octavia Butler's "Kindred," but also because it places the reader in the middle of our current reality where plantations have become places of white joy and celebration, absent of the realization that these places still haunt the descendants of enslaved people. 

The intertwining lives of Mira, Celine, and Jesse are the embodiment of this conundrum that we now face as a country. But this book isn't overly didactic. It's a love story mixed with supernatural horror and a dash of mystery. I enjoyed the book as much as it made me reflect on our collective responsibility to remember lest we repeat. 

"When the Reckoning Comes" is already on order at my Library, and I would love to host the author... there's so much to discuss and so much to unpack in this well-written novel.
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*An ARC of this book was provided to me by Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review.*

Moody and atmospheric. The author writes beautifully. This is a Southern Gothic Horror that might be a bit much in places for the Gothic fan and a bit slow in others for the Horror fan, but if you like both genres then you'll be satisfied. The pacing is a little uneven, the story drags in parts, and I wanted the climax to be more climactic, but when it was on it was really ON. This is a novel that focuses heavily on the atrocities of slavery in America so obviously all the content warnings for racism, bigotry, abuse/child abuse, rape, torture, other violence, mob mentality, murder, etc.
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Mira hasn't been back to her small southern town since she left for college. One of her high school friends is getting married and asks her to be there, but Mira has history with the wedding location. The resort is a remodeled plantation. When they were in high school, Mira and another friend, Jesse, went to the abandoned plantation. Mira saw a ghost and ran. Jesse was arrested for a murder that happened nearby on the same day. Jesse was released, but their friendship didn't survive.

The plantation is staffed almost exclusively by black people, though it's hard to believe anyone would voluntary work as a slave reenactor, working in the fields while white people watched. Mira, who is the primary narrator, is obsessed with the plantation and making amends with Jesse. She thinks of nothing else, but when she finally gets a chance to talk to him, she says they shouldn't dwell on the past.

Mira strikes me as self-centered and self-important. She refuses to see situations from another person's point of view, especially when she judges the bride for asking Jesse, an acquaintance by this point, to leave her rehearsal dinner, instead of asking her father to leave after he started an argument. In her conversations with other characters, it seems she has no interest in anyone else's input, and thinks that her way is the right way. This would be fine if she was written to be an unlikeable narrator, but it didn't seem like that's what the author was aiming for. Maybe she faces her hubris later in the book, but I didn't enjoy it enough to find out. I stopped reading at about 46%.

The audiobook narrator was pleasant enough to listen to at first. After a while, it gets distracting. She reads everything like it's deep and meaningful, which means none of the meaningful bits stand out.
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