In the opening pages of Lone Women, Adelaide Henry burns down her California home with the bodies of her parents inside it and sets out for Montana. But her plan to start a new life as a homesteader is hampered by the literal baggage she brings with her: a steamer trunk containing a monster that can never be abandoned or set free.
Although this is a horror novel whose supernatural elements are part of the fun, the best part of Lone Women, for me, is the portrait it paints of Adelaide and the community of other women she finds out on the plains. Definitely recommended.
(The New York Times, which calls the book “almost impossible to put down,” has its say here.)
In case you missed it, we dropped a new episode of The Destroyer of Worlds podcast on Tuesday.
I’ve also added a couple new events to my schedule. On April 18, I’ll be going back to Portland for my rescheduled appearance at Powell’s City of Books. And on May 4, I’ll be at Brick and Mortar Books in Redmond, WA. But my next in-person event will be just two weeks from now, on March 24 at 7:15 PM, when I read and answer questions at Pulpfiction Books in Vancouver, BC.
Last week’s reading at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park was great, with a big, friendly crowd. On Saturday, my wife and I headed to Bellevue for the Literary Lions Gala, where Isabel Wilkerson was the keynote speaker; I also got to say hi to Nancy Pearl, who I hadn’t seen since before the pandemic.
Sunday was a busy day at Emerald City Comic Con, where I had back-to-back panels and signing sessions from 11 AM to 4 PM. This, too, was a first since the pandemic, and it was both wonderful and disorienting to be around so many people in such a big space.
While I was busy making new friends at my signing station, Lisa made the rounds, checking out the tables where the real celebrities were selling autographs and photos. I had my own brush with stardom when James Marsters finished his own signing session and walked past me on the way back to his suite.
Though I enjoyed the people, I was less impressed with the venue. Seattle’s new convention center seems poorly laid out, and there’s not enough seating in the public areas. Folks were sitting on the floor everywhere, which is fine when you’re twenty but not so fun when you’re pushing sixty. I also couldn’t help noticing that they decorated the fifth-floor ceiling with these rows of wooden spikes, which is just what you want hanging over your head in an earthquake zone.
We made it out alive, this time. Then on Tuesday I had a Zoom session with a writing class at Rutgers University. It was a nice group of students and I really enjoyed talking to them, but what I will remember most is being “Zoom bombed” for the first time in my life—I was in the middle of answering a question when the screen suddenly filled up with a video of two horses fucking. My host for the event was embarrassed, but I thought it was hilarious, not to mention efficient: back in my day when you wanted to pull that prank, you needed to get two actual horses and coax them up on stage before security stopped you. Living in the future never ceases to amaze me.
Last but not least: just this morning, Bookreporter dropped this review of The Destroyer of Worlds, calling it “[an] enthralling sequel” and “a wonder to behold.” A great note to end the week on.
In this month’s edition of Locus magazine, Ian Mond reviews The Destroyer of Worlds, and he likes it:
The Destroyer of Worlds is immensely entertaining. The pacing is on point, the action set pieces are thrilling, and the stakes are high. I swallowed the novel down in a couple of pleasurable sittings… Ruff’s continued exploration of race in America during Jim Crow still packs a punch… [It] is also a delicate and tender novel about faith and spirituality… It’s nuanced, meaningful stuff that reinforces the moral and ethical dilemmas faced by the characters… And am I eagerly anticipating the next volume in the saga of the Turner-Berry family? Oh my, yes!
We’re now just two weeks away from publication. If you’re thinking of picking up the book, a preorder—either online or at your favorite local indie bookstore—would be very much appreciated, as it adds to the first week’s sales numbers and helps draw attention to the novel.
If you’re in Seattle or Portland, OR, I’ll be doing in-person appearances at Elliott Bay Book Company, Third Place Books, and Powell’s later this month. I’ll also be attending the Literary Lions Gala and Emerald City Comic Con in March. My full schedule is here. (And if you’re not in the Pacific NW, no worries; I’ll be doing plenty of online appearances as well.)
From the January 1 edition of Library Journal, another positive advance review for The Destroyer of Worlds:
Readers can expect the same genre-blending, dark humor, and creepy atmosphere from the first book, but this time Ruff presents each character and their compelling journey in alternating chapters. As the narratives overlap and come together, readers will be held captive until the thrilling conclusion. This series excels in how it continues to draw parallels between its pulpy plot and the entire civil rights movement. The cosmic dilemmas make for a great read, but the unease is amplified by readers’ knowledge that these Black characters are about to be thrust into a very real fight for freedom.
Where its predecessor was constructed of separate stories focusing on different family members, this book operates with more interwoven narratives that Ruff manages to yoke together into one ripping yarn with shocks and surprises at every turn… The best news this book delivers is that we’ll likely be seeing more from its vivid cast.
We’re still four months away from publication, but Publishers Weekly has an advance review of The Destroyer of Worlds, and it’s a rave:
Ruff’s sequel to 2016’s Lovecraft Country delivers another virtuoso blend of horror, action, and humor… Ruff makes the most of his inventive concept and his care in crafting memorable characters means that the fates of even minor cast members make an impact. Fans will find this a worthy sequel.
The premiere of the Lovecraft Country HBO series is just a week away now. The review embargo lifted this past Friday, and the advance reaction has been overwhelmingly positive.
First out of the gate is this rave from Alan Sepinwall at Rolling Stone, who says Lovecraft Country is “one of the best shows HBO has made in a long, long time.” Time magazine calls it “stunning” and “an absolutely wild ride.” And there’s a lot more in this vein.
Needless to say, I’m over the moon about all this—and I can’t wait till next Sunday.
Over at the Washington Post, Paul Di Filippo has some nice things to say about 88 Names:
Ruff presents his story in John Chu’s first-person voice, and the creation of this engaging, engrossing persona is his first major achievement… [Chu’s] relationships with his crew, with Darla, with his dad, and above all with his brilliant, ruthless mother, offer the reader a chance to savor a kind of well-done family drama… Ruff’s second major victory is in making the reader care about virtual reality. Whenever a novel plunges too deeply into this kind of artificial turf, it risks losing the reader’s interest because of a lack of sensory grounding and the notion that when anything can happen, nothing matters. Ruff overcomes this by making his adventures fashioned from electrons and bytes read as authentically as any naturalism… Ruff’s fast-flowing, fascinating narrative is full of amusing topical and pop culture referents without being overburdened by allusiveness. His witty, often snarky dialogue crackles, and every aspect of the gaming experience—which Ruff has been immersed in for 40 years—is sharply rendered and explicated… Any novel that can bridge these disparate worlds and appeal to gamers and literary fans alike is a treasure greater than the loot in a cyber-dragon’s cave.
My seventh novel, 88 Names, will be published on March 17. The folks at Goodreads are giving away 50 advance copies at the end of this month. You can enter the giveaway lottery here.
Early buzz about the novel has been very good. Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Kirkus all liked it, and Booklist just gave it a starred review: “Ruff is an expert at keeping readers off-balance and providing entertaining stories that cross genres… The action inside the virtual gaming world is sleek and exciting, but the extrapolation of identity, friendship, and human relationships makes the narrative shine.”
You can read more about the novel here. A list of confirmed book tour dates can be found on my appearances page.