Saturday, April 21, 2018 23:06

Southern Gods by John Hornor Jacobs

Southern gothic doesn’t begin to cover it

I just re-read this fantastic book by John Hornor Jacobs as I never got around to writing this review the first time (extenuating circumstances) and it certainly bears reading again.

Southern Gods by John Hornor Jacobs - fantastic!Set in the deep south of Arkansas in the early 1950s, this is part road movie, part historic plantation and family story with a generous helping of dark forces and blood.

‘Bull’ Ingram, ex-marine, finds people and collects money his employer is owed for a living. That is, until a Memphis DJ hires him to find a mysterious blues musician being played on a pirate radio station over the border in Arkansas, one Ramblin’ John Hastur, who’s music is reputed to have supernatural powers. When he plays a sample of the music hastily recorded off the radio, Bull finds himself building into a killing rage – entirely brought on by the music.

Meanwhile, Sarah Williams and her daughter Franny return to the Reinhart Estate in the town of Gethsemene. Known as ‘The Big House’, the mansion has a bloody history, where Sarah’s grandmother, a cook and an uncle were all killed by her uncle Wilhelm. How he did it, as he was dying of tuberculosis was a mystery, but the heart of his brother was missing, cut from his chest, a sacrifice of blood with significance with gods.

Obviously, Bull’s quest brings him to the Big House, but not as you’d expect and I’d rather not give away too much of the plot. Let’s just say Hastur’s music has properties that can animate the dead and leave it at that.

I thought the book was a bold, engrossing tale told well from the two viewpoints – to be honest, I didn’t want to stop reading it, either time! John’s descriptions are so vivid there were times I could almost smell the blood.

I have to say I’m looking forward to reading more of his work as I enjoyed this and would heartily recommend it to anyone who likes a scare in the vein of H P Lovecraft, more than a King or Barker style.

Not for the faint hearted, as a warning. If a good horror story isn’t your thing, I’d give this a miss.


You can find his very good blog at

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