Release Date: February 16, 2016
“Chicago, 1954. When his father Montrose goes missing, twenty-two year old Army veteran Atticus Turner embarks on a road trip to New England to find him, accompanied by his Uncle George—publisher of The Safe Negro Travel Guide—and his childhood friend Letitia. On their journey to the manor of Mr. Braithwhite—heir to the estate that owned Atticus’s great grandmother—they encounter both mundane terrors of white America and malevolent spirits that seem straight out of the weird tales George devours.
At the manor, Atticus discovers his father in chains, held prisoner by a secret cabal named the Order of the Ancient Dawn—led by Samuel Braithwhite and his son Caleb—which has gathered to orchestrate a ritual that shockingly centers on Atticus. And his one hope of salvation may be the seed of his—and the whole Turner clan’s—destruction.” (via Goodreads)
The experiences of Atticus and co. travelling across the country aren’t fantasy. There really were travel guides for colored people to help them pass safely through Jim Crow strongholds. My mother was only a few years younger than Horace in 1954, and the stories she’s told me about driving from the North to the South to visit her sharecropper relatives would leave you chilled. Frankly, I’d have to side with Ida—the Black housemaid condemned to another dimension—that a person with no regard for your life is far more fearsome than a monster willing to eat you alive…
Read the rest of this review at Tor.com.
Atticus was almost home when the state trooper pulled him over.
He’d left Jacksonville two days before in a secondhand ’48 Cadillac Coupe that he’d bought with the last of his Army pay. The first day he drove 450 miles, eating and drinking from a basket he’d packed in advance, stopping the car only to get gas. At one of the gas stops the colored restroom was out of order, and when the attendant refused him the key to the whites’ room, Atticus was forced to urinate in the bushes behind the station.
He spent the night in Chattanooga. The Safe Negro Travel Guide had listings for four hotels and a motel, all in the same part of the city. Atticus chose the motel, which had an attached 24-hour diner. The price of the room, as promised by the Guide, was three dollars.
In the diner the next morning he consulted a road atlas. He had another six hundred miles to go to Chicago. Midway along his intended route was the city of Louisville, Kentucky, which according to the Guide had a restaurant that would serve him lunch. Atticus considered it, but any inclination to further delay his homecoming was overwhelmed by a desire to put the South behind him, so after he finished breakfast he got the basket from his car and had the diner cook fill it with sandwiches and Cokes and cold fried chicken.
Thanks to HarperCollins for sending me a review copy.
Do the world a favor and buy this book from your local indie bookstore or get it from your public library.