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Book Review: The City Of Lost Fortunes (A Crescent City Novel)
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The City Of Lost Fortunes
A Crescent City Novel
Hardcover | Kindle | Audiobook
By Bryan Camp
Publisher: John Joseph Adams | Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Release date: April 17, 2018

In Bryan Camp‘s debut novel, The City Of Lost Fortunes, a reclusive New Orleans street magician and demigod with the ability to locate lost items is forced out of magical retirement when he’s tasked with solving the murder of the city’s god of Fortune.

Jude Dubuisson is a New Orleans street magician whose schtick is revealing the location of people’s lost items. Oh, and he’s also a demigod, thanks to the deity daddy he never knew. But after Hurricane Katrina tore through his beloved city leaving an overabundance of lost items in its wake, he’s been overwhelmed by his magical gift. The experience took something out of him, as it did to most of the city’s residents, leaving him without his usual swagger and knowing grin, prompting his retirement from the magical community. Unfortunately, he didn’t walk away six years ago scott-free – he still owes a debt to the Fortune god and it looks like now it’s being called in. An invitation to a divine card game ends with the murder of the Fortune god, and now Jude has been drafted by a former employer to find the killer. Who is powerful enough to kill a god and what is their motive? And how is Jude connected to all of this to begin with?

New Orleans native Camp began writing The City Of Lost Fortunes, which is the first installment in his planned Crescent City series, in the back of his parents’ car while evacuating during Hurricane Katrina, and it is clearly a love letter to his hometown. Within it, he expresses the love and loss and the pain and healing that come with the destruction and rebuilding of such a majestic city, one with a mythology all its own. In his Crescent City, witches, sorcerers, vampires, and other supernatural beings coexist with humans, as do angels, demons, demigods, and gods, and they all feel the weight of what Hurricane Katrina did. But many of them also have designs on becoming more powerful and advancing in rank in their rule over unsuspecting mankind, which could put the city in danger once more.

There’s a lot of characters introduced that either have multiple personas or no true identity divulged at first. If you’re familiar with mythology, you can guess after a while who’s who; if you’re not, no worries, it will eventually be revealed. The book is heavy with mythology, similar to Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, and periodically includes separate sections outside the main plot that explain something about gods, demigods, vampires, and other beings referenced in the story, which I really enjoyed.

The first third of the book is a little difficult to navigate through because the descriptions of people, places, things, and actions are quite lengthy and detailed, and at times it is unclear as to which parts are pertinent to remember. After the Fortune god is murdered, though, the pace does pick up and the author reiterates the relevant sequences as more clues are uncovered and Jude learns more about his own heritage and abilities.

The story is absolutely compelling, with plenty of twists to keep you going and characters who are likable, even when they fall into the lawful evil category (and many do). As Jude reluctantly performs his duties, we get to know him better and learn why he lost his spark, while rooting for him to get his groove back. And if you’re not already in love with the Big Easy, you will be after this… and a little frightened, too. With The City Of Lost Fortunes, Camp does a fantastic job weaving a supernatural murder mystery filled with monsters, myths, and legends in this ode to New Orleans.

A note on the cover: The cover is absolutely gorgeous with a teal-blue color with gold writing and accents reminiscent of Grand Central’s famous celestial ceiling. The color also reminds me of older structures mentioned in the book, like statues, that have turned verdigris over time. In the center is an outline of Jude, wearing his all-important satchel, with drawings of magical items used or referenced in the book. It’s very attractive and ties in well with the story.

The fate of New Orleans rests 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 that 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 always been trying to show him: what it means to be his father’s son.

City of Lost Fortunes cover

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