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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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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.
This is one of a series of books about the supernatural underpinnings of various cities. (The first was MIND THE GAP, focusing on London.) This is an incredible work of dark magic. The love story at the center is mythic in nature (very Orpheus and Eurydice as Max descends into the darkness to save Gaby). The magic is as real as it gets in urban fantasy. The post-Katrina landscape is eerie and haunting, which could also be said of the book. The human characters are fine but the city of New Orleans is brilliantly portrayed.
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.