A haunting novel about a black woman who returns to her hometown for a plantation wedding and the horror that ensues as she reconnects with the blood-soaked history of the land and the best friends she left behind.
More than a decade ago, Mira fled 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 that terrible day when a dare-gone-wrong almost got Jesse—the boy she secretly loved—arrested for murder.
But now Mira is back in Kipsen to attend Celine’s wedding at the plantation, which has been transformed into a lush vacation resort. Mira hopes to reconnect with her friends, and especially, Jesse, to finally tell him the truth about her feelings and the events of that devastating long-ago day.
But for all its fancy renovations, the Woodsman remains a monument to its oppressive racist history. The bar serves antebellum drinks, entertainments include horrifying reenactments, and the service staff is nearly all black. Yet the darkest elements of the plantation’s past have been carefully erased—rumors that slaves were tortured mercilessly and that ghosts roam the lands, 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.
About the Author
LaTanya McQueen has an MFA from Emerson College, a PhD from the University of Missouri, and was the Robert P. Dana Emerging Writer Fellow at Cornell College. She is an assistant professor of English and creative writing at Coe College in Iowa.
“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 so deliciously uncomfortable there were moments where I had to put the book down, take a deep breath, and like Mira, its protagonist, urge myself to go further. 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 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
"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
"Engrossing...Playing on the disturbing trend of celebrating happy moments on restored plantations, McQueen cranks the discomfort up a notch to create a story where readers will actively cheer on the restless spirits."
— Library Journal
"McQueen writes with rich understanding of the spine-chilling violence Black people have experienced from slavery down throughout generations, often leading many on a journey of self discovery of their own. She writes layered characters who deal with elitism, trust, social class, and a strong desire to be seen and understood."