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The Ballad of Black Tom Audiobook

The Ballad of Black Tom

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Publisher's Summary

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 black skin that attracts the eye of wealthy white folks and their trained cops.

But when he delivers an occult page 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?

©2016 Victor LaValle (P)2016 Macmillan Audio

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (369 )
5 star
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4.2 (344 )
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4.4 (349 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Jason United States 05-24-16
    Jason United States 05-24-16 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "One of the best books I've heard all year."

    Utilizing some of the established Lovecraftian mythos almost as an afterthought, Victor LaValle spins his tale in a manner so engrossing that you lose yourself in the New York of yesteryear.

    By the end of the tale, you're unsure exactly who to root for- Black Tom or the world he would destroy- and the story's monsters are so vile and detestable that you'll find yourself wishing they were supernatural.

    My highest possible recommendation- both for story and for Kevin R. Free's nuanced storytelling.
    Five of Five stars- in all categories.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    RYLAND 03-26-16
    RYLAND 03-26-16 Member Since 2017
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Absorbing, sad, and uncanny Lovecraftian tale of an outsider from Harlem"

    This story does a lot in a short space but never loses its cool focus. The author played with all the tropes just right to dig into the atmosphere, the character, and the unknowable, untameable, supernatural forces at play. Having blues music (its lyrics, its power, its emotion, its loss, its use as plot lure for the protagonist as musician) merge with a well-paced Lovecraftian tale of temptations and mistakes was a treat, and that state of segregation and blatant racism from whites with blacks and chinese and whoever else deemed foreign and as low as a beast in society of that time is emphasized by, and helps to emphasize, the sense of dangerous boundaries, of being an outsider and of having outside forces lurking in the corner of our lives. But besides these societal and Lovecraftian forces at play, we also have the protagonist's personal relationships and self-awareness bringing in a sad, touching thread of humanity struggling to survive its fall. I also enjoyed having the story flip to another character's view in the middle to give us another layer to the horror. Highly recommended listen. The narrator was spot on, and gave justice to different character accents. Get it.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M J S 04-26-17
    M J S 04-26-17
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    "Gratuitous Violence + Dumb Story + = A Big No"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    This book was not for me. But it might be for someone who cares little for narrative and a lot for weirdness loosely tied together with violence.


    Has The Ballad of Black Tom turned you off from other books in this genre?

    I'm not sure that this book could fit into a genre. But if it has one, then yes.


    What does Kevin R. Free bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    A wide range of voices. It's not Kevin R. Free's fault that the story is bleak, both in concept and execution.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Ballad of Black Tom?

    The final third of the book.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    R. 04-22-17
    R. 04-22-17
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Cosmic horror for the modern reader."

    The story builds pace rather quickly and grips the reader. Very unlike the slow burn lovecraftian horror I was expecting. However, it slows down towards the mid point but picks up again a little later.

    The prose is fantastically written, Victor Lavalle's prose is like poetry but never feels over done.

    The only gripe I have with this book, is that it kind of fizzles out and never does end properly. But then again, it's horror on a cosmic scale, us puny humans wouldn't get it anyway.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William Vigil Claremont CA 04-20-17
    William Vigil Claremont CA 04-20-17
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Entertaining"

    I liked the idea and the writing was good. The narrative and the voice seemed at odds in some passages. Those looking for Lovecraftian horror should pass on this one. it is a supernatural detective story with some light 'old gods' backstory.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shawn Scarber Dallas, TX 01-23-17
    Shawn Scarber Dallas, TX 01-23-17 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Lovecraftian horror from Harlem"

    Victor LaValle's offering to the Lovecraft Mythos embraces the pulp era's weirdness all while shedding a bright light on the racist elements of Lovecraft's works. LaValle paints a vivid and varied image of early 1900s New York that resonates. This is Mythos at its finest, and I'm glad to see it tackled from a diverse perspective. It was all the more enjoyable for it.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Caitlin M Grabarek 10-10-17 Member Since 2017
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    5
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    Story
    "Well written, well voiced"

    This was a novel retelling of HP Lovecraft's "The Horror at Red Hook" from the perspective of Tom Tester. Kevin R Free is one of my all-time favorite readers and this performance does not disappoint. I would recommend this title to anyone looking for a quick and engaging horror story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    latasha 09-19-17
    latasha 09-19-17 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "great story!"

    great story, well written and I love the characters. I would definitely read or listen to more by this author.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mr. Burkhart 08-15-17 Member Since 2016
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    3
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    Story
    "Ballad for work."

    Listened to this in one sitting while at work one afternoon. It was completely compelling from start to finish. And the finish was nothing that I had expected. Very cool story.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Julian C. Chambliss Orlando, FL 05-26-17
    Julian C. Chambliss Orlando, FL 05-26-17 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great twist on a genre"

    This is well worthy your time. The author does a great job of using New York City as a backdrop for a complex story that takes Lovecraft racial hysteria and turns it on his head.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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  • Beccameriel
    London, United Kingdom
    12/1/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Quirky Lovecraftian horror"

    An interesting short story that provides a corrective to the vile racism of Lovecraft's Horror at Red Hook. It's atmospheric and well-written but possibly best enjoyed if you are already a fan of Lovecraftian weird fiction.

    Well narrated by Kevin R. Free

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Donna
    Lanarkshire Scotland
    2/9/17
    Overall
    "Different but in a good way."

    Enjoyed reading something I had to think about especially the underlying story which was very sad but believable.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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