A brainy, awesomely resourceful heroine makes her way through a supernatural doppelgänger of New Orleans to track down a missing soul and, in the process, save both her world and ours from unimaginable catastrophe.
Readers of Camp’s debut, The City of Lost Fortunes (2018), may remember a captivating, tough-talking young woman named Renaissance “Renai” Raines, who died in 2011 and reawakened a few weeks later in a “new reality…where myths walked the streets of New Orleans and magic was possible.” Renai’s role in this fascinating if macabre realm is as a “psychopomp,” whose task, roughly speaking, is to break apart the mortal coils of the dead and lead what remains of their souls into the Underworld. With guidance from a talking raven named Salvatore, Renai’s been gradually shaking away her awkwardness with this uneasy calling; that is, until one soul destined for passage belonging to an adolescent boy named Ramses St. Cyr vanishes from the site of a drive-by shooting along with the rest of what should have been his dead body. And so with Sal and another talking bird named Cordelia by her side (or, more precisely, on her shoulders), Renai mounts her ghost motorcycle to probe the corners of her shadow universe to find Ramses. Along the way she interrogates shape-shifters, tricksters, and a wily sorcerer named Jack Elderflower, who has somehow managed to cheat death without having a soul. The more she finds out, the more questions she has; most of them having to do with whatever consequences could ensue for both the living and the dead if Ramses continues to avoid his ultimate fate. In this second installment of his Crescent City urban fantasy series, Camp raises the stakes and broadens the scope of his alternate world; at times his impulse to further explain the nuances of this world make his new book a bit slower going than its predecessor. But the richness and inventiveness of Camp’s vision and the vivacity, warmth, and compassion of his leading woman keep you alert to whatever’s happening next.
As with the real New Orleans, once you leave this creepier but just as colorful variant, you'll be eager to go back.