One of the 46 Books You Need to Read in 2021 by Harper’s Bazaar
One of the 10 Great New Books To Read… by Bustle
One of The Millions Most Anticipated (for the month of August)
One of the 9 Books that Goodreads Editors Highly Recommend
One of the August 2021 Reads for the Rest of Us by Ms. Magazine
One of the 10 Debut Books You Should Read This August by Debutiful
One of the Most Anticipated 2021 Summer Literary Fiction Books by Bibliolifestyle
One of Deep South Magazine’s Summer Reading List 2021
One of the 20 Books You Need on Your 2021 Reading List in Betches
One of the Summer Reading: KR Recommends… books by Kenyon Review
A Galley Crush by Poets and Writers
“Whether we know it or not, we are all haunted by history. LaTanya McQueen’s When the Reckoning Comes makes that fact both startlingly real and beautiful. And while McQueen serves up stark lucidity and beauty, she doesn’t hide from the darkness of the past, instead she makes meaning of it. This book is a wonder.” — Rion Amilcar Scott, author of The World Doesn’t Require You
“This is a novel, like Octavia Butler’s Kindred, that reminds its readers that as long as people don’t acknowledge how much of the past still shapes the present, it will bring its whips, its hatchets, and its fists to make us learn.” — Megan Giddings, author of Lakewood
“LaTanya McQueen writes brilliantly and incisively about the haunted histories that lurk behind landscapes and road signs; the tidal pull of childhood friendships; what it means to leave home and what it means to return. When the Reckoning Comes is an extraordinary, beautifully-crafted debut.” —Laura van den Berg, author of The Third Hotel
“LaTanya McQueen’s When The Reckoning Comes is a devastating story of perseverance and friendship that balances the living and dead and connects the injustices of the past and present. Haunting and lyrical, it is a story about justice and love that should be required reading for all. McQueen has written a powerful and moving novel.” — Brandon Hobson, National Book Award finalist and author of The Removed
More than a decade ago, Mira fled Kipsen, her small, segregated hometown in the South, to forget. With every mile she traveled, she distanced herself from her past: from her best friend, Celine, mocked by their town as the only white girl with black friends; from her old neighborhood; from the eerie Woodsman Plantation rumored to be haunted by the spirits of slaves; from the terrifying memory of a ghost she saw on that terrible day when a dare gone wrong almost got Jesse—the boy she secretly loved—arrested for murder.
Now Mira is back in Kipsen to attend Celine’s wedding at the plantation that has been transformed into a lush vacation resort. Mira hopes to reconnect with her friends, especially with Jesse so she can finally tell him the truth about her feelings and the events of that devastating long-ago day.
For all its fancy renovations, the Woodsman remains a monument to its oppressive racist history. The bar serves antebellum-themed drinks, entertainment includes horrifying reenactments, and the service staff is nearly all black. The darkest elements of the plantation’s past—that slaves were tortured mercilessly—have been carefully erased. But ghosts roam the property, seeking vengeance on the descendants of those who tormented them, which includes most of the wedding guests.
As the weekend unfolds, Mira, Jesse, and Celine are forced to acknowledge their history together, and to save themselves from what is to come.
You can read this essay, “What Visiting Plantations Taught Me About Historical Erasure”, about why I wrote When the Reckoning Comes in Lit Hub. I also wrote this for Writer’s Digest. And you can read this interview with