Monday, August 16, 2021

When the Reckoning Comes by LaTanya McQueen


This is a short novel, but it packs a wallop. When the Reckoning Comes takes place in a small Southern town where Mia has returned reluctantly to attend her childhood best friend's wedding. Mia had escaped Kipsen ten years before, along with the horrifying memory of a trip to Woodsman, an abandoned plantation deep in the woods. 

Mia doesn't want to return but Celine, her only white friend growing up, calls and begs her to attend. Celine, Mia, and Jesse all grew up poor and on the outs with the kids of Kipsen. Celine and Jesse stayed, and now Celine is marrying a rich man at the newly renovated Woodsman plantation. 

Mia arrives, and is horrified by what she sees at the plantation: all black servers, reenactments of slave labor, and a basic white-washing of all the terrible history of Woodsman Plantation. Rumors of ghosts of the slaves still abound, and it's definitely a place that looks beautiful but is rotten at the core. There have been a few weird deaths on or near the plantation over the years, and rumors that the slaves have returned from the dead to exact revenge on townspeople who are descended from the white people who worked and lived at the plantation. Can they be true? And what does Mia believe?

As the wedding morning arrives, Celine is missing from her room and no one can find her. Tensions start to rise, and Jesse and Mia frantically try to figure out what happened to Celine, all the while conscious of supernatural activities ramping up. It appears the ghosts have arrived, and they are angry.

This was truly a spooky read. The horrors of the plantation and the absolute depravity of plantation owner Roman Woodsman made me cringe a few times. The anger of the dead slaves is palpable, and wow I'd be bent on revenge, too. After all, it is said their blood soaked into the soil and has remained there all this time. Not even graves for those who died. 

It's short, brutal, and oh so good. Wow. A powerful novel about slavery, the attempts we have today to gloss over the horror of it; the way it decays a town and poisons generations. The tension in this novel slowly bumps up until your heart just about leaps out of your chest. 

I haven't read horror for a bit, and this was a great way to dip my toe back into this genre. History and horror are an interesting mix. 

Rating: 5/6 for a terrifying novel about revenge, racism, the afterlife, and how true history will always comes out. Some things should be left to rot in the woods. 

Available in paperback, ebook, and audio. 

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