This is weird because I absolutely loved the book. Next to Lone Woman it is probably my favorite book by Lavalle (and that is saying something). Interestingly enough this is another take on the Lovecraftian from the perspective of black characters. Earlier in the year I read the second Lovecraft Country book, The Destroyer of Worlds which also revises Lovecraft using black protagonists.
Part of why this is interesting, obviously, is the contrast with the inveterate racism of H.P. Lovecraft. Please don't tell me he wasn't really racist. That is nonsense....just accept it. You can be talented and a racist.
This book, set in New York City in the 1920s, has the feel of a fable and is actually a novella rather than a novel. This is a good thing. It makes the author get right to the point but he still creates fully realized characters. As much as anything Lavalle has written this highlights his artistry and skill as a writer.
I didn't leave this wanting more like I did with The Destroyer of Worlds. I felt this story worked at this length and needed nothing else. It is a perfect piece of writing for the world between a short story and a novel. It reminds me a little of the novellas by Phillip Pullman from the "Golden Compass" world. It is actually better than most of those however and that is partly because of the freedom of being connected to no larger story.
Once again Lavalle impressed me. It no longer comes as a surprise.