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The Map of Moments: A Novel of the Hidden Cities Paperback – January 27, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Urban realism meets dark fantasy in this spine-tingling second collaboration between authors Golden and Lebbon (after 2008's Mind the Gap) as they merge the repercussions of Hurricane Katrina with New Orleans' terrifying ghostly past. Max Corbett, a former professor at Tulane University, comes back to the Big Easy for the funeral of his lover, Gabrielle. Torn with anger and grief, he believes a stranger who claims he can put Max in touch with Gabrielle's ghost. Armed with a mysterious potion and a magical map, Max must seek out the psychic echoes of traumatic moments in the city's history. He soon finds himself trapped into experiencing all the moments, no matter how dangerous or grotesque. Golden and Lebbon have far outstripped their past efforts with this wonderfully creepy thriller of a ghost story. (Feb.)
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Two masters of the horror genre team up for the second time (following Mind the Gap, 2008) in another Hidden Cities tale. History professor Max Corbett left Tulane after his affair with beautiful, passionate student Gabrielle Doucette ended in heartbreak when Gabrielle cheated on him. Six months later, Max returns to New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to attend Gabrielle’s funeral. As he wanders the decimated city trying to work out his complex feelings for the woman he still loves, Max is approached by Ray, an older man who offers him the chance to save Gabrielle. Ray gives Max a potion to drink and a “Map of Moments,” setting him off on a quest to find a man named Matrisse. Skeptical at first, Max soon finds himself on a journey that both reveals New Orleans’ past and puts him in peril. Golden and Lebbon vividly evoke the rich, enduring character of New Orleans, as well as spinning a compelling fantasy yarn that builds momentum as Max works his way through the city’s history. --Kristine Huntley
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Top Customer Reviews
See some of the cookie cutter reviews for the plot summary, instead, I'll get into the reasons I liked it. The novel isn't heavy on character development or interaction ... and you won't really care. It's consciously done, as everyone in this book is an enigma, even to themselves, and unravelling that is part of the journey. The main character here is really the city, and the authors do a fantastic job of portraying the darkness and seamy aura that was certainly there before Katrina, and is even more pervasive afterward. I liked this one even more than Mind the Gap, and maybe that's because I've spent time in New Orleans and not in London. It's not often I think a book captures the true feeling of a place while still telling an entertaining story; this one does. In short, highly recommended.
You know that game we played as kids, where someone would stand behind you and pretend to crack an egg on your head, dribble it down, run `spiders' up your back, and then blow on your neck? Even though I knew it was coming, I always got the chills. The same thing happened with this story - it gave me chills. My heart felt like it was creeping up my throat and I had a thousand insects churning in my gut. I can't remember the last time I was so spooked out, and yes, I enjoyed my own fear.
The plot is a great combination of time travel, ghosts, black magic, mojo, and demons. The authors peel back the layers on this freshly wounded post-Katrina New Orleans with enormous patience. It's the perfect setting, because even without the supernatural spooks, New Orleans feels so wronged and raw. It was definitely a dangerous time to set foot in that city.
The first half is deceptively slow and placid, and our hero gets in too deep before he even knows it. Then everything moves at a frantic pace as Max tries to complete his journey before the bad guys kill him. For my fellow hopeless romantics out there, I wish I could say this novel has a genuine `happily ever after,' but I cannot tell a lie. However, it does have an ending that readers can live with, and since this is a dark urban fantasy, I wasn't expecting more. The writing is fantastic, the plotting is way above average, and Max is as real as characters come.
The Map of Moments provides a great history and geography lesson for almost all of New Orleans without getting bogged down by unnecessary detail. I hate it when you read a book and the author clearly know almost nothing about the location they've placed their story in. Golden and Lebbon nailed the twists and turns of New Orleans, which makes me wonder if either ever lived there for any length of time.
Max Corbett, former professor of history at Tulane, returns to New Orleans for the funeral of his former lover and student Gabrielle. He comes back about six months after their tear, but only a couple after Katrina, the storm that took Gabrielle's life. After her funeral Max is given a map of moments by a very mysterious man from Gabrielle's past. It is a map to some of the most powerful magical events in New Orleans history and if Max absorbs enough magic from visiting these moments he has a chance to talk to Gabrielle one last time. At first Max fights the urge to follow the map, but in the end he can't deny the chance. Max explores many spots in New Orleans from its earliest beginnings to some of its darkest nights though some kind of time travel resonance.
On his journey Max untangles Gabrielle's past and her relationship to a dark and supposedly magical group that has been involved with New Orleans for hundreds of years. As he travels through a weather-torn city he depicts the terror that has shaken the city and its survivors to its very core. I'm leaving out a lot of the magic related events as they are best discovered through reading.
A quick and quite inexpensive read The Map of Moments is a truly haunting look at the dark history and magic to the underside of New Orleans and the ghosts they hide. Golden and Lebbon develop their characters well in a very believable world while painting an apocalyptic landscape. It is definitely worth checking out if you are interested in New Orleans or a bit of dark urban fantasy. I give The Map of Moments 7 hats out of 10. The next book in the series is placed in Venice and will likely be released next year.