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The Black God's Drums

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  6,130 ratings  ·  1,363 reviews
Creeper, a scrappy young teen, is done living on the streets of New Orleans. Instead, she wants to soar, and her sights are set on securing passage aboard the smuggler airship Midnight Robber. Her ticket: earning Captain Ann-Marie’s trust using a secret about a kidnapped Haitian scientist and a mysterious weapon he calls The Black God’s Drums.

But Creeper keeps another secr
Kindle Edition, 112 pages
Published August 21st 2018 by
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Kat No. But in both, there is reference to Caribbean carnival themes, like the Midnight Robber.

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Elle (ellexamines)
“The name of your ship is Midnight Robber!
She pauses at this. Shrugs. Then says evenly: “It's satire.”

This novella was so addicting.

I absolutely love the worldbuilding of this book. The Black God’s Drums is set in a post-confederate New Orleans in which the South achieved their goal of armistice. While many cities rebelled, they succeeded in keeping most territories, using slave labor and keeping them confined via a type of poison gas called drapeto. The aesthetic used is perfect, keeping
Fabuleux. If you have a thing for thieving street orphans  or the power of New Orleans, I highly recommend giving it a read.

Creeper is a street orphan in the polyglot city of New Orleans. She loves her city but also has dreams of traveling the world. While she's casing out the passengers arriving by recent airship, her hiding space is usurped by a gang of men. They're talking treason, smuggling someone from Haiti and bringing an awful weapon into the neutral zone that is New Orleans.

"Les Grand M
Apr 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing

ARC provided by Tor in exchange for an honest review.

“Because in New Orleans, you can’t survive on just dreams.”

The Black God's Drums is an amazing novella that stars a young girl, Jacquelin AKA: Creeper, living in an alternative historical 1884 New Orleans. Oh, and Creeper also has an African orisha, Oya, living inside her and allowing her to tap into their powers. And even though Creeper is loved in New Orleans by so many people who loved her mother before she passed away, Creeper
Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

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So real talk: I wasn't sure I'd be given an ARC of this book after committing the cardinal sin of giving CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE a one-star review, especially after said review caused a ton of people to low-key imply that I'm a racist for not liking a book written by a black woman. The blow-back was such that I wondered if maybe I'd been put on a blacklist entitled, "Warning: racist blogger, do not give any ARCs written by PoCs." Luck
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Upping my rating from 4.5 to 5 stars on further thought. This really is an excellent Tor novella, and my favorite of the novellas nominated for the Nebula this year. Final review, first posted (in a slightly different form) on Fantasy Literature:

In an alternative history, magical steampunk version of New Orleans, in 1884 the city is still influenced by the aftermath of the Civil War, which ended in a division of the Union and Confederate states. New Orleans is a pocket of neutrality, one of the
✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)
The way P. Djèlí Clark reinvents history is bloody shrimping amazing. The worlds he creates are scrumptiously imaginative and imaginatively scrumptious (whatever that means). And SO refreshing. BUT. The problem with this story is that there is way too much world, and not nearly enough story and/or characters. There is so much world to take in that it dwarves everything else.

The plot is alright (if lacking in complexity), but it feels like the author just barely scratched the surface. It's the s
Tori (InToriLex)

Content Warning: Sexually Explicit, Graphic Violence

There is so much rich world building and awesome characters packed into this short novella. Creeper is a orphan who is determined to become a sky pirate. She is also possessed by the African Orisha (Goddess) Oya. In this alternative history of New Orleans, the city is apart of the Union which has split from the Confederacy after the Civil War. New Orleans is a welcoming city where all are welcome and it is surrounded by walls to p
Caro the Helmet Lady
This was so much fun, even though a bit too short for my liking. And even if too much of deux ex... femina??? I still liked it a lot. Interesting, colourful and steampunk alternative history with Carribean tastes in New Orleans scenery, what's not to like?
Plus - goddesses!
Btw, colour me stupid, but somehow I though the author was a lady and I was quite surprised to discover in the afterword his gender. Because his female characters are so well done! (not like there were many important male ones
May 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Novella Hugo nom for 2019.

Just a question for ya'll: Do you like grinning skulls covering New Orleans? Steampunk treatments of Oya, including airships and an old Haitian god of the wind? Angry urchins just wanting to get away from the streets by any means necessary, but really preferring to ride the wind?

Yep, this is for you, then. :)

I like the writing and I love the gods treatment and there's even a rescue plot in here that rounds it all out. The focus is definitely on good characterization, th
K.J. Charles
Magnificent. Novella set in an alt New Orleans, a free city amid the non-united warring states, with airships, pirates, really weird nuns, and the African and Caribbean gods making a slow return to their free people. Absolutely exceptional world building, language, and atmosphere as a teenage orisha-touched thief has to prevent the Confederates from getting hold of a doomsday weapon. Please tell me there will be a novel, or a series, or a series of novels.
Holly (Holly Hearts Books)
This is a bright 3 star rating. Such an immersive read and the narrator for the audiobook is wonderful!
Sep 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a good example of why I am grateful that I have GR friends. Montzalee’s review assured me, “The Black God's Drums by P. Djeli Clark is a fascinating alternative history/world where there is more steampunk but also tribal gods are real.” Carol’s review keyed on, “Creeper…a street orphan (and narrator) in the polyglot city of New Orleans. (Who) ….while…casing out the passengers arriving by recent airship…(hears) a gang of men…talking treason (involving) smuggling someone from Haiti and bri ...more
Montzalee Wittmann
Aug 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Amazing world

The Black God's Drums by P. Djeli Clark is a fascinating alternative history/world where there is more steampunk but also tribal gods are real. A truly unique world. Wonderful well developed characters that came alive on the pages! The world building was outstanding especially since this was such a short novel. The author put so much into so little space and it turned out great! I will be looking for more books by this author. I got this book from the library.
May 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Set in an 1884 alt-history-steampunk New Orleans, Phenderson Djèlí Clark tells the story of a 13-year-old street urchin that dreams of becoming a member of an airship crew.

In this world Clark - a historian – created, the Reconstruction Era never happened and even though there’s a long standing armistice between the Confederates and the Union, the nation remains divided and the possibility of war starting back up is very real. New Orleans, though, taken by a slave uprising in the first year of th
Mar 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: you. yes, you.
Recommended to jade by: carol.
“concealed in my alcove, i can see them all: in every color and shade, in every sort of dress, talking in more languages than i can count, their voices competing with the rattle of dirigible engines and the hum of ship propellers.”

welcome to late 1800s new orleans, a multicultural airship port.

this lovely novella follows street urchin creeper, who overhears the concoction of a plot to bring a godlike superweapon into new orleans. even worse, the confederates are out there trying to g
Mel (Epic Reading)
Absolutely stunning!! The biggest disappointing is that this is a short story and only 111 pages long. While a good little story Black God's Drum really feels more like the introduction to a new larger world that could have many books written it it. From airships, voodoo, southern culture, strong heroines, steampunk influences and more; there is a lot here to love.

Alternate History
While P. Djeli Clark (sorry I don't have accents accessible on this keyboard) doesn't specifically call it out by t
Richard Derus
Real Rating: 3.5* of five

I received this novella from for a review.

I can't say this was a successful read for me, since A Dead Djinn in Cairo was so very, very satisfying; I'm not really excited by New Orleans, for one thing, and found this tale's supernatural elements closer to possession than I'm excited to read.

The fact is I'm just not sure why I can't get jazzed (!) for this one. But not every pitch connects!

*transferred from LT* again, no idea why this review was never here
This is a warm 3-star rating, as opposed to an annoyed or disappointed 3-star rating. There is much to enjoy in this novella: an imaginative take on an alternate-history, steampunk New Orleans; sparky, dialect-infused dialogue; and a fun, propulsive plot. It just ultimately feels a little thin in the end, and while aspects of the first-person voice work, I didn’t always buy it as being as authentic to the character as it could be. Still, I will happily seek out other work by P. Djèli Clark, as h ...more
Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
Such a fabulous novella. I started to read this story and was so captivated by it that it was almost depressing to finish it. I hope the author has plans to write fill-ledge novels!

if you like alternative stories, then this is definitely one to go for. New Orleans is the perfect setting, I love reading about the town whether it is a paranormal story or not. However, I have to admit that I do love it when there is some kind of paranormal activity going on.

Creeper is a wonderful character. I can't
I've never been so thankful for my resolve to work through my NetGalley list of review books. I requested this book AGES ago, and - tragically - never got to reading it. That changed today, when I devoured the entire story in a single sitting.

The Black God's Drums is set in a steampunk, alternate history New Orleans, with the Civil War in a tentative Armistice (after the Third Antietam). The year is 1884, and Jacqueline - though she prefers Creeper - is just thirteen years old. She's grown up on
Sep 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
I read this in one sitting. It’s only a hundred pages or so, but they are an excellent hundred pages and I am sincerely looking forward to a full length novel with Creeper and Ann-Marie (and the nuns... and Feral... damn it can we just bring the whole gang along?!). Also- please tell me there is a full length novel in the works!

So world building: it’s a like a steampunk alternate history New Orleans- where New Orleans has become its own free territory in the midst of confederate states where sla
That was a little gem. I loved the main character, the underlaying mythos and how it's incorporated into the characters' lives, and the setting - alt-history in New Orleans when the Civil War went a bit differently. It's all done very well but not made too easy for the reader either. I'm excited to read more of this author. ...more
I LOVED this. The audiobook narrator is fantastic.
I hope and pray this is the beginning of a series.
So this was an unexpected delight.
I honestly grabbed The Black God's Drums because of the cover. It's striking and made me want to read the story. Well done, marketing team!
But, as it turns out, this book can totally be judged by the cover because the inside is just as appealing as the outside.

This is the quick - both short in length but also fast-paced - story of Creeper who lives in alt-New Orleans right after the American Civil War in which things have turned out differently. She gets hold of
Thomas Wagner
Feb 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Phenderson Djèlí Clark is an Afro-Caribbean-American writer, born in the United States, who spent much of his early life in Trinidad and Tobago. Hungry for speculative fiction rooted in more diverse experiences and perspectives than the publishing world has historically offered, Clark has lent his considerable storytelling chops to work that pulls together elements from multiple genres. The results, so far, have been bullseyes, offering in 100 pages or less the quality of character development, ...more
Jul 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
4.75 stars.

The Black God's Drums is a novella set in alt-history steampunk-like New Orleans, which has become a neutral city after the Civil War ended with an armistice. This story follows young teen Creeper, a street orphan who, after overhearing a conversation that may upset New Orleans' already fragile peace, decides to sell information to an airship captain from Trinidad.

This wasn't easy for me to get into at first, because it's written in a way that reminds you of how people spoke during th
The night in New Orleans always got something on, ma maman used to say—like this city don’t know how to sleep.

I think it’s safe to say that Tor is my favorite publisher at this point. They continue to push out cool, inventive stories told by a diverse array of authors. This novella is no exception: it’s got a silk-smooth and fast-paced plot, a well-realized steampunk vibe suffusing an alt-history New Orleans, great witty dialogue, and a likeable protagonist with a great narrative voi
May 14, 2018 added it
Editing this little fun fact because it's been bothering me. References to the Midnight Robber go beyond a credit to Nalo Hopkinson. The Midnight Robber also draws from the Trinidadian Mas. Clark would have been introduced to and familiar with this character long before reading Hopkinson's work.

It can for sure be both but definitely don't discount the other.
Timothy Urges
Dec 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Enjoyable world building, but I didn’t get enough out of the plot. Had this been longer and more fleshed out, I would have liked it more.
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Phenderson Djèlí Clark.

P. Djèlí Clark likes creating fantastic, dangerous, and exciting worlds. Usually with heroines & heroes. Almost always with magic & monsters. His short fiction has appeared in Daily Science Fiction, Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, Lightspeed, and in print anthologies including Griots, Steamfunk, Myriad Lands and Hidden Youth.

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  Kerine Wint is a software engineering graduate with more love for books than for computers. As an avid reader, writer, and fan of all things...
79 likes · 21 comments
“Fighting it has to be like trying to push back a flood. In my head, Oya laughs. You can run from those old Afrikin goddesses. But they find you when they ready.” 3 likes
“You can run from those old African goddesses, but they find you when they ready.” 0 likes
More quotes…