Thanks to Edelweiss and John Joseph Adams/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: Available Now
The fate of New Orleans lies in the hands of a wayward grifter in this novel of gods, games, and monsters.
The post-Katrina New Orleans of ‘The City of Lost Fortunes’, is a place haunted by its history and by the hurricane’s destruction, a place that is hoping to survive the rebuilding of its present long enough to ensure it has a future. Street magician Jude Dubuisson is likewise burdened by his past and by the consequences of the storm, because he has a secret: the magical ability to find lost things, a gift passed down to him by the father he has never known—-a father who just happens to be more than human.
Jude has been lying low since the storm, which caused so many things to be lost that it played havoc with his magic, and he is hiding from his own power, his divine former employer, and a debt owed to the Fortune god of New Orleans. But his six-year retirement ends abruptly when the Fortune god is murdered and Jude is drawn back into the world he tried so desperately to leave behind. A world full of magic, monsters, and miracles. A world where he must find out who is responsible for the Fortune god’s death, uncover the plot that threatens the city’s soul, and discover what his talent for lost things has been trying to show him: what it means to be his father’s son.
I have one word after reading City of Lost Fortunes: WONDROUS! I gobbled this up in two sittings, and the only reason why it took me that long is because my mean husband made me go to bed.
While I haven’t yet been to New Orleans, the city, people, and history have held a peculiar fascination for me since childhood. So, I was especially excited when I read the premise for this debut novel. Add in magic, mythology, and the supernatural, and my expectations went through the roof.
There are several different mythologies mixed up in this book and one of the things I loved was how the author started each chapter with a short paragraph detailing how various mythologies describe a particular situation in their own way, but how they all share commonalities. With so many religions and myths being brought together this could have easily been a confusing mess, but Bryan Camp fuses everything together smoothly and efficiently.
The large cast of diverse characters are brilliantly written and I already have several favorites. The hero, Jude, is someone you just can’t help fall in love with. He has many issues stemming from his dysfunctional childhood, the absence of his father, and the trauma of his “gift”. He’s made mistakes along the way but he also carries the weight of them and makes amends when he can. Jude winds up becoming a metaphor for New Orleans. The disruption of his magic ties directly into the destruction of the city, and as a reader you can’t help but feel these losses keenly. I have to be honest and say there’s a slight info dump in the beginning regarding Jude and his backstory, but I’m not taking any points off because it’s so minor and the rest of the book is so good, that it’s just not worth complaining about.
As marvelous as the supernatural and magical elements are, at its heart, this book pays tribute to the city of New Orleans and the resilience of its citizens. The descriptions of the music, food, architecture, and people bring the city to life and it literally becomes a character in its own right. In the afterward, Bryan Camp talks about how he began writing this in the back of his parents’ car as they were evacuating before Katrina hit. It’s worth reading because it gives you an additional sense of how much love was poured into this book.
The City of Lost Fortunes is a literary feast for the mind and soul, and I cannot recommend it highly enough! If you’re a fan of authors like Neil Gaiman, Jim Butcher, Clive Barker, and Kevin Hearne, you need to read this ASAP! While I can’t wait for the sequel, I’m also keeping my fingers crossed that this is just the beginning of a long-running series.