The City of Lost Fortunes: A rich gumbo full of passion, life, and magic

The City of Lost Fortunes by Bryan Camp speculative fiction book reviewsThe City of Lost Fortunes by Bryan Camp speculative fiction book reviewsThe City of Lost Fortunes by Bryan Camp

Bryan Camp’s debut novel The City of Lost Fortunes (2018) is a loving ode to New Orleans and everything that makes it superlative: the food, the music, the soul-crushing humidity, and of course, the people. Ambitious, insightful, and filled with commentary on the diversity and similarities across world mythologies, this novel is absolutely the product of a writer who is worth keeping an eye on.

Invited to an exquisitely bizarre card game that he’s compelled to attend, Jude Dubuisson discovers himself in the company of some terrifying entities: a vampire, an ancient Egyptian god, New Orleans’ own god of fortune, a famous voodoo loa, and a literal angel. Jude is, himself, the son of a trickster god and has the ability to find lost items just by touching the people who have lost them, so he’s got just a tad more in his favor than your ordinary street magician might.

But the next morning, the god of fortune is found murdered, and Jude is tasked with finding his killer, saving New Orleans from those who would destroy it, and, if at all possible, repairing a friendship that’s gone horribly awry in the six years since Hurricane Katrina came to town.

Bryan Camp

Jude’s an interesting guy, with a hard-luck story that adds some grounding to what would otherwise seem like a never-ending party train. He’s got access to magical abilities, but they all have their costs, and forcing himself to live at arm’s-length from “normal” people as the perpetual outsider gives his voice an old-soul flavor that prevents his character from remaining at a superficial wish-fulfillment level.

As much as he sometimes enjoys finding lost things, lost people are no picnic, and he’s deeply shaken by the devastation left in Hurricane Katrina’s wake. His actions and choices have profound and realistic effects on the people he cares about, too, and Camp makes lots of room for Jude to be selfish or screw up royally before trying to make amends.

Gather the Fortunes (A Crescent City Novel) Hardcover – May 21, 2019 by Bryan Camp (Author)

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Camp’s done a mostly-good job of incorporating various mythical, god-like, and outright otherworldly figures into The City of Lost Fortunes, ranging from Thoth to Papa Legba and a whole lot of others in between. I really enjoyed their supernatural interplay, along with their relationships with and dependency upon humanity, and nearly every one of them is an essential asset to the story.

One figure was a notable distraction for me; the reveal of their true identity seems to be meant as a huge twist near the end, but I figured it out as soon as I saw their name, and as much as I wanted to be wrong and for Camp to surprise me in this regard as he had with so many others, I wasn’t. It was a disappointment, though a minor one in comparison to everything else the novel had to offer.

I liked quite a bit about The City of Lost Fortunes, and was pleased by the way the novel ends: opening a door to a wide, interesting world, and with the possibility of new and more complicated adventures in further CRESCENT CITY novels.

I look forward to seeing what Camp has in store for his beloved city.

Published April 17, 2018. 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.

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JANA NYMAN, with us since January 2015, is a freelance copy-editor who has lived all over the United States, but now makes her home in Colorado with her dog and a Wookiee. Jana was exposed to science fiction and fantasy at an early age, watching Star Wars and Star Trek movie marathons with her family and reading works by Robert Heinlein and Ray Bradbury WAY before she was old enough to understand them; thus began a lifelong fascination with what it means to be human. Jana enjoys reading all kinds of books, but her particular favorites are fairy- and folktales (old and new), fantasy involving dragons or other mythological beasties, contemporary science fiction, and superhero fiction. Some of her favorite authors are James Tiptree, Jr., Madeleine L'Engle, Ann Leckie, N.K. Jemisin, and Seanan McGuire.

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