Retro Review & Giveaway: Urban Fantasy Map of Moments by Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon

It’s Retro Thursday, so I’m digging back through the shelves for books from ages past that should be remembered. Today, I’m talking about an urban fantasy called The Map of Moments, by Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon. It was published in 2008, and here’s my teaser: this is the book that inspired me to take keyboard in hand and start writing fiction. This is THE one that got me off my butt. And not for the reason you might think.

ABOUT THE BOOK: What if you were given a map to a magic that could change the worst moment of your life…for a price? From two all-stars of dark fantasy, Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon, coauthors of Mind the Gap, comes this terrifying new thriller of magic and dangerous passions, where an ordinary man searches the magical landscape of an extraordinary city for the chance of a lifetime. Barely six months after leaving New Orleans, history professor Max Corbett is returning to a place he hardly recognizes. The girl he’d loved—and lost—is dead, and the once-enchanted city has been devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Max has not thought much beyond Gabrielle’s funeral—until a strange old man offers him a map, and an insane proposition . . .“Forget all the stories about magic you think you know. . . .”  It looks like an ordinary tourist map, but the old man claims that it is marked with a trail of magical moments from New Orleans’s history that just might open a door to the past. But it is a journey fraught with peril as Max begins to uncover dark secrets about both his dead love and the city he never really got to know. How is Gabrielle linked to an evil group from the city’s past? And can Max evade them long enough to turn back the clock and give Gabrielle one last chance at life?

MY THOUGHTS: Let me say up front: this book has a great premise, it’s beautifully written, and it offers up a fascinating “firsthand” glimpse into the history of New Orleans, which I still consider my hometown. That’s why I picked the book up in the first place, and in that sense it didn’t disappoint me.

But what inspired me to begin writing were these two sentences, which occur very early in the book, on page seven:

“Watching the television reports as Hurricane Katrina moved into the Gulf of Mexico, he’d wondered why no one seemed as terrified as they should have been. Weren’t they watching the same reports down in Louisiana?”

I literally threw the book against the wall and didn’t pick it up again for several days. It sat on the floor, gathering dust. Because until 48 hours before it hit, all the weather forecasters had told us with certainty that Hurricane Katrina would make landfall in Florida or Alabama, that in New Orleans we’d get some rain. By the time it became clear the storm wasn’t going to make its turn, a lot of people who didn’t have the money or vehicles or good health for a lightning-fast flight from the city (or in my case, a credit card) simply got stuck. It was clear to me that Mssrs. Golden and Lebbon, despite their writing pedigrees and storytelling skill, really didn’t know New Orleans beyond what they’d read in news reports or seen on TV. And this was three years after Katrina and I was still uber-sensitive and more than a little shell-shocked.

So I decided to write my own urban fantasy set in New Orleans and built around Hurricane Katrina, injecting it with the reality as I knew it (plus a few wizards and ghosts and voodoo gods), and ROYAL STREET was born–it’s the first in a series and will be released by Tor Books about a year from now. *end of shameless self-promotion*

Now, having said that, if you ignore anything referring to the hurricane in this book, it’s awesome. As I said, it’s well written, and I love the premise of the main character, Max, tracing the true story of what happened to his former lover, through a map of clues that literally has him time-traveling through New Orleans history.  But ignore the hurricane stuff, because the characters are going to parts of town that weren’t open to visitors, eating in areas that were covered under a foot of dried mud, etc.

So, did I scare you away, or would you like to win a copy of Map of Moments for yourself? If so, tell me if you’ve been to New Orleans and, if so, what your favorite restaurant. I have so many…but I have to stick with Jacques-Imo’s, uptown on Oak Street, where they make an alligator sausage and crabmeat cheesecake that will curl your toes (in a good way).

As always, to enter: +1 for comment, +1 for blog follow, +1 for Twitter follow @Suzanne_Johnson, and +1 for Tweet/Retweet. Happy reading!

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About Suzanne Johnson

Author of urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and suspense. As Suzanne Johnson, she is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series (Royal Street; River Road: Elysian Fields, Pirate's Alley, Belle Chasse, Frenchmen Street (March 2018). Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she is the author of the Penton Legacy series (Redemption; Absolution; Omega; Storm Force; Allegiance; ILLUMINATION); The Collectors series (Lovely, Dark, and Deep; Deadly, Calm, and Cold); and the Wilds of the Bayou series (Wild Man's Curse; Black Diamond).

17 thoughts on “Retro Review & Giveaway: Urban Fantasy Map of Moments by Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon

  1. I might skip the first book, because of that issue, but I’d pick yours up. The reason is that I’m tired of poor research in books. Although, the funny part is, I grew up in Florida and wrote a book set in Florida. A judge in a contest told me that trees do not grow near beaches in Florida. ROFL. So, yes, I’m interested in your book and I think that was a great way to promote your book. BTW – I moved to Miami for college right after Hurricane Andrew.

  2. I’d still like to read Golden and Lebbon’s book. We’d moved to CO by the time Katrina hit, but our immediate families were affected by both Katrina and Rita. I haven’t been back (to NO, I’ve been back to Louisiana), but my husband was there in October and had a blast.

    (I’m a blog follower)

  3. Yeah, it’s funny about this book–I’d recommend it as a good read now that a little more time has passed, but I do hate they didn’t do a little more research.

  4. Never been down to NO but Christopher Golden is always worth checking out & as I won’t pick up on any of the poorly researched bits I’ll probably enjoy it more than someone who would.
    I remember reading Meg Cabot’s blog one time & she talked about just that issue. She’d set a book in Alaska (a place she’d never been.) & despite all her research she still had factual errors. (thou few people pointed it out.) From that day she decide never again & now only sets books in ‘places she knows or made up.’ and that has been some of the best writing advice I’d ever been given.

    +1 twitter follow Ash131618

  5. I’ve never been to new Orleans but I have read several books by Christopher Golden and enjoyed them so I’d be interested in reading this one.

    sgiden at

    +1 GFC follower

  6. I’ve never been to New Orleans but my dog has. She’s a Katrina survivor.

    I worry research to pieces with my writing. There is always someone out there that is familiar with setting, if you write from actual places.

    I follow you on GFC and I’m a Twitter follower under @sageraven.
    Thanks for the opportunity!(Hugs)Indigo

  7. I have never been to New Orleans so cam’t comment on that but the book sounds imteresting and I like Tim Lebbon’s writing.

    If the giveaway is open worldwide, I would like to be entered.


    Carol T

    buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

  8. Sounds interesting Suzanne but I think I’d like yours more. I have friends that went through Katrina and a cousin who was in her first year at Loyola when it hit: I have heard a lot from them and it changed my perspective on much of it; the news showed it differently and hyped all of the people taking advantage of the situation and little about those who had little choice to be there.
    One question, you seem to have read a library’s worth of books … when do you find time to write? I am always torn between the great books I hear about and finishing my own!
    @ Ciara: from one Coastal resident to another: that is hysterical!

  9. I visited New Orleans when I was sixteen years old, and that was a long time ago. I don’t remember the restaurants, but I’ll never forget the music and the beautiful wrought iron balconies that stretched across the face of the houses. Of course, who could forget
    Bourbon Street? Everyone wore a smile. Both books sound intriguing to me. Give me a magical map and I’d follow it anywhere. I signed up as a follower. Love this blog! So glad I found it.

  10. I’ve never been to New Orleans but it’s definitely one of the places I want to go in the future.

    +1 Comment
    +1 Blog follower
    +1 Twitter follower: (@Sparima)