The Ballad of Black Tom The Ballad of Black Tom

The Ballad of Black Tom

    • 4.2 • 192 Ratings
    • $4.99
    • $4.99

Publisher Description

One of NPR's Best Books of 2016, winner of the Shirley Jackson Award, the British Fantasy Award, the This is Horror Award for Novella of the Year, and a finalist for the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, World Fantasy, and Bram Stoker Awards

People move to New York looking for magic and nothing will convince them it isn't there.

Charles Thomas Tester hustles to put food on the table, keep the roof over his father's head, from Harlem to Flushing Meadows to Red Hook. He knows what magic a suit can cast, the invisibility a guitar case can provide, and the curse written on his skin that attracts the eye of wealthy white folks and their cops. But when he delivers an occult tome to a reclusive sorceress in the heart of Queens, Tom opens a door to a deeper realm of magic, and earns the attention of things best left sleeping.

A storm that might swallow the world is building in Brooklyn. Will Black Tom live to see it break?

"LaValle's novella of sorcery and skullduggery in Jazz Age New York is a magnificent example of what weird fiction can and should do."
— Laird Barron, author of The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All

"[LaValle] reinvents outmoded literary conventions, particularly the ghettos of genre and ethnicity that long divided serious literature from popular fiction."
— Praise for The Devil in Silver from Elizabeth Hand, author of Radiant Days

“LaValle cleverly subverts Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos by imbuing a black man with the power to summon the Old Ones, and creates genuine chills with his evocation of the monstrous Sleeping King, an echo of Lovecraft’s Dagon… [The Ballad of Black Tom] has a satisfying slingshot ending.” – Elizabeth Hand for Fantasy & ScienceFiction

At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

Sci-Fi & Fantasy
February 16
Tor Publishing Group

Customer Reviews

Prairie_Dog ,

A Very Different Cthulhu Mythos Novella

"The Ballad of Black Tom" is a very surprising story. It is first a retelling of the events of H. P. Lovecraft's story "The Horror at Red Hook." It is also a story about race and racism set in 1920's New York. It is also the story of the descent of a young African American man, Charles Thomas Tester, from a hustler who deals in forbidden books, to becoming the right hand man of a delver in ancient lore. He eventually becomes the titular Black Tom, who learns to walk Outside, and seeks to bring back the Great Old Ones, because what they offer seems like a better deal than what he has known all his life.

This story turns the unfortunate racism present in H. P. Lovecraft's original story completely around. It offers a decidedly different perspective on the Mythos, and unexpected insights into our conflicted protagonist. It is very refreshing take on Lovecraftian lore!

juno 🤎 ,


i truly wish i could put into words how much this story has impacted me, reading it for the first time for a fantasy and science fiction course.

i read Lovecraft’s version of this story first and came out of it not only angered by the blatant racism, but also annoyed from how awfully descriptive the writing was (and not in a good way). LaVelle’s version tells the story in a much more understandable way; it’s still descriptive and unsettling, but it provides real detail in comparison to over-explaining; and whilst Lovecraft merely gives us the POV of Malone and his racist perspective of Red Hook, LaVelle provides more insight into both sides of the story and almost leaves you to decide who the true ‘villain’ of the story was. you truly don’t expect what happens at the end until you’ve read it for yourself.

despite not liking Lovecraft’s version, i do believe people should read both to link details from each story and to compare the stories in themselves. but Lavelle’s version is, by far, the better one of the two.

TrevorEParker ,

All over the place and not in a good way

This book starts off with an interesting plot and then goes off the rails quite fast.

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