The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle

The Ballad of Black Tom

Victor LaValle

fiction Fantasy Horror
dark mysterious tense slow-paced

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People move to New York looking for magic and nothing will convince them it isn't there.

Charles Thomas Tester hustles to put food on the table, keep the roof over his father's head, from Harlem to Flushing Meadows to Red Hook. He knows what magic a suit can cast, the invisibility a guitar case can provide, and the curse written on his skin that attracts the eye of wealthy white folks and their cops. But when he delivers an occult tome to a reclusive sorceress in the heart of Queens, Tom opens a door to a deeper realm of magic, and earns the attention of things best left sleeping.

A storm that might swallow the world is building in Brooklyn. Will Black Tom live to see it break?

What the community thinks

summary of 687 ratings (see reviews)

Content warnings

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Racism (6 reviewers), Violence (5 reviewers), Police brutality (5 reviewers), Gore (4 reviewers), Racial slurs (3 reviewers), Hate crime (3 reviewers), Blood (1 reviewer), Death (1 reviewer), Gun violence (1 reviewer), and Body horror (1 reviewer)


Racial slurs (1 reviewer), Police brutality (1 reviewer), and Gore (1 reviewer)


Gun violence (1 reviewer), Racial slurs (1 reviewer), and Grief (1 reviewer)


dark 97%
mysterious 79%
tense 65%
challenging 26%
emotional 26%
sad 22%
reflective 14%
adventurous 12%
informative 2%


fast 51%
medium 40%
slow 8%

Strong character development?

Yes: 66% | It's complicated: 26% | No: 7%

Loveable characters?

It's complicated: 67% | No: 22% | N/A: 7% | Yes: 2%

Diverse cast of characters?

Yes: 97% | It's complicated: 2%

Flaws of characters centre-stage?

Yes: 80% | It's complicated: 9% | No: 9%

Average rating


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