When the Reckoning Comes

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.


“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

“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