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A Song for Quiet

(Persons Non Grata #2)

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3.93  ·  Rating details ·  581 ratings  ·  105 reviews
Deacon James is a rambling bluesman straight from Georgia, a black man with troubles that he can't escape, and music that won't let him go. On a train to Arkham, he meets trouble — visions of nightmares, gaping mouths and grasping tendrils, and a madman who calls himself John Persons. According to the stranger, Deacon is carrying a seed in his head, a thing that will destr ...more
Kindle Edition, 112 pages
Published August 29th 2017 by Tor.com
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Cassandra Like, maybe a 3-4 compared to my usual stuff.

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Average rating 3.93  · 
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Dan Schwent
Oct 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017-books, 2017
Shortly after the death of his father, bluesman Deacon James rolls into Arkham with an otherworldly song in his head and a sinister detective, John Persons, on his trail...

I follow Cassandra Khaw on twitter and she mentioned needing reviews for this. Since I liked her first John Persons novella, Hammers on Bone, I was all over it like a ghoul on an unsuspecting citizen of Arkham.

Noir mixed with cosmic horror is the best combo since chocolate and peanut butter and A Song for Quiet is a prime exam
...more
Bradley
May 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My gods, I loved this! Deep DEEP Jazz meets gibbering horrors and the connections between memory, selflessness, and total sacrifice WITHIN the music.

The prose was jazz in its most intensely lyrical and dense and evocative!

Like... total purple prose, man. But here, it was absolutely gorgeous. Syncopated tune with counterbeats to a Cthuhlu horror eating memories even as the most delicious riff, harmony, and melody bridged two souls together on the stage.

Deep, emotional, utterly horrific. I imagine
...more
Mir
Feb 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lovecrafty, horror
Wow, thanks for introducing me to this singer, author!
Geeshie Wiley - Last Kind Words
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oAKfy...
...more
Elle Maruska
Just so you know, Cassandra Khaw's work is my aesthetic.

I mean this 100%.

This book makes me hurt with how viscerally, disgustingly, triumphantly good it is. It's Lovecraft elevated to human art instead of just dry cosmic musings; the characters in this book are so real you ache for them, you feel your own bile rise as they confront nameless horror. There is a such a strong thread of call-and-answer in this story, questions characters ask being asked of the reader as well, sacrifices the charac
...more
Lindsay
A bluesman from Georgia comes to Arkham, but is beset by horrific visions and a strange man by the name of John Persons.

I didn't love this quite as much as the first book, but it's still a compelling story with the customary beautiful writing from Cassandra.
K.J. Charles
A lyrical, deeply weird horror novella about a bluesman with a song in his head that will end the world (and since he's black in 1950s USA, you can see the temptation). As with the best horror, humanity comes across as pretty much as awful as the Old Ones with tentacles, although those are also spectacularly grim.

Khaw's writing is incredibly rich, with the saturation turned up to 100 all the time to dizzying effect, and her knack for vividly revolting images has not deserted her (insert canniba
...more
RG
Oct 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Lyrical prose and interesting enough story about a bluesman on a train with something going on in his head, and creatures doing anything to retrieve it. Never read the 1st so not sure if any different but just didnt work as a novella for me.
DeAnna Knippling
Apr 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
An uncanny song that leads a bluesman on a road he would rather not walk.

If you liked the first book in the series, you'll probably like this one, too; it's inventive historical horror and a fun read. The only thing that dragged it down a little was that the reader wasn't quite brought on board smoothly. The story seemed to assume that I had read this right after the first one and would remember things like, oh, what the main character from the first story was like, what year it was, where the l
...more
Melanie
Dec 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
I totally forgot to review this, so here's a quick one.

Awesome story, connected to the first book, it can definitely be read on its own but you really need a least a little understanding of Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos or you're going to be really confused.

The writing's pretty heavy, you have to concentrate and I admit to hitting the dictionary a couple of times, but the imagery is superb.
Alasdair Stuart
Sep 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Deacon James is a blues man. Not the stereotypical figure of a blues man either. There's no deals done at crossroads, no careful deployment of artfully vague music as magic. Deacon is good at what he does, famous enough to be a little noticed, and folded in half with grief.

Deacon is also in the wrong place at the right time, his grief and anger combining with something truly monstrous and propelling him into the centre of a situation so vast he can only perceive some of it. A situation that John
...more
Kdawg91
Aug 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I am reviewing both books in the Persons Non Grata series at the same time (this one and Hammers on Bone). I have spent the year trying to read things I don't usually, horror and novellas, and honestly, I am kind of glad I did.

I recently told a friend of mine, (Hey Dan) I thought that some writers did Lovecraft better than Lovecraft did himself (weird sentence there..) Ms. Khaw happens to be one of them. As a reader who enjoys the Chulthu mythos more than the actual Lovecraft works, I love the f
...more
G.
Oct 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Words, so many well-chosen words. Cassandra Khaw is really freakin' great at painting a picture with words. A Song for Quiet unspooled like a movie in my brain. It's dark, creepy, not afraid of going to places that hurt. I do wish we got to spend more time between those pages, though. But hey, I'm greedy.
Eddie Generous
Oct 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Unnerving Magazine Review
Though the second of a series, ​​A Song for Quiet reveals a significantly different tale from its predecessor. Firstly, it’s not a hardboiled detective noir, despite involving that character. This fact was somewhat disappointing, at least initially until I got over my expectations.
A hard-up bluesman is torn between a subconscious cosmic tugging and the difficult world around him. That's the sum of it until the threat of complete world annihilation comes into play.
It’s l
...more
Jim
Jan 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Khaw has a brilliant and awesome grasp of language usage... and i love how she uses music and its terminology throughout this tale... Cthulhu-inspired works take a tough road, as some authors have near-mastered the worlds of The Old Ones and make dipping ones tentacles there to be fraught with failure and/or overwrought writing... Khaw succeeds admirably, fantastically, viscerally... her descriptives flow, nay ooze, with menace and awfulness... a grand adventure, touching and raw and dreary and ...more
Runalong
Nov 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A grieving blue singer starts to feel an urge to sing a song that could destroy the world. Beautifully written tale of grief and hope and the language Khaw uses go paint this picture is gorgeous - her ability to paint music into words is really unique to read. Strongly recommended!
Acqua
This was even better than the first one.

What. A. Book.
I've never read anything similar to this novella series. Not only because Lovecraftian Noir and Lovecraftian Southern Gothic aren't everyone's favorite genres, but also because I never found horror written this well before.

A Song for Quiet is the second book in the Persons Non Grata series, but it's set long before Hammers on Bone. Its main character is a black bluesman, Deacon James, whose music just won't let him go - it's slowly taking con
...more
Jared Millet
So I guess "Lovecraftian Novella" is a genre all it's own now, this being the third one I've read in the last twelve months. I can't say that I enjoyed this one as much as The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe or The Ballad of Black Tom . A Song for Quiet treads some of the same ground as Black Tom, but it's more overtly horror than either of the others I've read. Cassandra Khaw has a knack for drumming up tension, but she's also got a love of florid language that sometimes goes over the top.

Th
...more
Mikhail
Feb 23, 2020 rated it liked it
Not quite as interesting as the first, since it lacks the sort of puzzlebox element of figuring out who exactly is what.

I will say that I am amused at how Mythos fiction is gradually turning into a PoC-focused genre, as multiple authors react against Lovecraft's racism with an eye towards centering PoC as the main characters. It rather helps that, interestingly, cosmic horror is actually a really good metaphor for widespread and institutionalized racism.
Michelle
Sep 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Cassandra Khaw is a really, really good writer. And this story is fascinating. But.... it's too complete to be a short story and too incomplete to be a novella. The reader isn't allowed far enough into the world to appreciate the greater arc at play.
Alex Sarll
A bluesman rides the train to Arkham, with new music in his head that's raw and powerful and somehow deeply wrong (if proof were needed, it's music which, in its first eruption, demands to be played out loud on public transport). Out of the corner of his eye, or just before passing out, he keeps catching glimpses of terrible things, and Khaw's prose is beautifully measured at making us feel the same way he does, not quite sure we saw what we think we did, but unsettled all the same. There are a ...more
Owen Townend
I came across this book while browsing the Waterstones tent at last year's Bradford Literature Festival. Blues Horror certainly isn't a genre I've read before.

A Song for Quiet is a short but compelling cat-and-mouse narrative with some glorious layered description blending musical terminology with uncanny nightmare. Deacon James is a likeable protagonist, a grieving Bluesman who also must navigate a society hostile to the colour of his skin. He puts up with a lot but he certainly isn't expecting
...more
Melissa
Aug 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Persons is too much of a traditional noir protagonist to be interesting. These dudes are very annoying. I was much more interested when I realized this story has a different perspective character. This story would have rocked if Persons hadn't showed up at all. But he did and was annoying, so it was just okay.

I love the author's creative use of language and the body horror with a particular preoccupation with eyes and teeth. This has been a feature of all the stories of hers I've read and why I'
...more
Rene Sears
Oct 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Another creepy but also lovely entry in Persons Non Grata from Khaw. Deacon James is a blues player who's being haunted by an unearthly song in his head, and being chased by people--and things--who want it. It turns out he's not the only one hearing the song. Some horrific weird, but not without hope or redemption.
Kris
Oct 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
I don't think it's possible for Cassandra Khaw to write a story that I don't find rich and engaging. This is dark, clever, brutal and gorgeous all at once.
Mohammed
Sep 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: weird-horror
This novella I bought,read because i was intrigued by the bluesman protagonist,the jazz element mixed with the supernatural horror story. The mix of jazz, horror didn't disappoint and I was impressed with poetic language the writer used when writing about horrific atmosphere as well as the music imagery, the complex feelings of Decon James being a black man playing music in Jim Crow era.
Bridget Mckinney
Nov 03, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
I want to say I loved this little book, the second in Cassandraw Khaw’s Persons Non Grata series, but the truth is that I am just Lovecraft-homaged-out these days, which made it a tough read for me. That said, A Song for Quiet is a definite improvement upon Khaw’s previous Lovecraftian novella, Hammers on Bone. It’s better paced, with a more interesting main character in Deacon James, and it does a much better job of capturing the sense of truly cosmic horror that Lovecraft was known for. There’ ...more
Thomas Mcphee
Sep 04, 2017 rated it liked it
A decent enough sequel, though I must say I think Hammers On Bone was a lot more interesting and engaging than this was. Part of it may also be that this is almost the exact same story as Black Tom, but Black Tom is 1000X better, not that this is bad per se, but just that Black Tom is longer, richer, deeper, and written by a black man, so it speaks a little more directly to the exact subject matter than Cassandra can. I like supporting Cassandra's work and gladly read this, but I look forward to ...more
Corey White
Nov 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful, brilliant, and raw story. Sublime prose.
David
Oct 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I had been anxiously waiting for this book, and it did not disappoint.

In what I feel might be events that transpire before "Hammers on Bone" (I'll gladly reread to test that theory), we follow Deacon James, a bluesman from Georgia, as he copes with loss, pain, and visions from beyond.

Something is growing inside him, and his music, a part of him that is wound deep into who he is, becomes a conduit for it.

Unlike the first book, we see Persons in the periphery of the story and not as the main ch
...more
Danny
Aug 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
The great thing about Khaw's writing is that it makes you feel the way that a haunting musical piece feels, at least for me. There's a melody to every line, even if the notes have dismembered appendages attached and the long notes are being sustained by something not all together human. When I heard about Deacon James, the blues playing protagonist to the second Persons story, I was immediately intrigued by the perfect pairing of writer and character.

I don't want to spoil too much, but lets just
...more
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Cassandra Khaw is a senior scriptwriter at Ubisoft Montreal. Her next novella NOTHING BUT BLACKENED TEETH is a haunted house story where messy people make really bad decisions.

Other books in the series

Persons Non Grata (2 books)
  • Hammers on Bone (Persons Non Grata, #1)

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