Post-Katrina New Orleans is haunted by history and destruction. Similar burdens are shouldered by the Street Magician Jude Dubuisson. He's got a gift of finding things people have lost - inherited from an unknown father. His gift has become an almost overwhelming curse following the storm, with so many things becoming lost his powers grow out of control. Then the New Orleans god of fortune is murdered and Jude is drawn back into a world he's been so desperate to leave. This is a hidden world full of magic and monsters, of gods and miracles. As Jude tries to find out who would kill a god, he uncovers a plot that threatens the very soul of the city, and discovers what his talent has been trying to show him - just what it means to be his fathers son.
The first thing that strikes you about this book is the superb narrative, with a bold and moving story that evolves as more details of events become clear - all revolving around a card game that both Jude and the deceased deity are a part of. Jude makes a great protagonist, clearly damaged by Katrina and hiding from everyone and everything (including himself). He is a metaphor for post-Katrina bereavement. Then there are the cast of colourful characters who join Jude on the journey - a mix of the mortal and immortal, each written with real care and attention that result in believable motivations and real personality.
The writing is superb, the author has a confidence you don't often find in a debut novel, with a real flare for descriptive verse, immersive and irrepressible. This captivation is helped by the fast pace and interesting, dynamic story - not to mention the wonderfully rich blend of urban myth and magic. The way the author merges real New Orleans with a vision of gods, magic and mythology is nothing short of breath-taking. This feeling extends to the portrayal of New Orleans itself, there is a tangiable sense of loss and determination that pulls at the heart strings - you can really feel for those still living in the city.
This is urban fantasy on a par with Neil Gaiman - and in my eyes there is no higher praise than that. Seriously impressive fiction and one of the finest examples of urban fantasy I've read in recent times.
Written on 24th April 2019 by Ant.
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