Wednesday, June 11, 2014

God save the King of N'awlins

Zoë Norris has issues. Most of which stem from the events of her debut in Mur Lafferty's  The Shambling Guide to New York City (reviewed here). Her boyfriend is slowly becoming a zombie, her best friend is missing, she can't get a grip on her new powers...oh, and she has to take the new ghost train overnight from New York to New Orleans to get started on the next Shambling Guide, this one focused on New Orleans, natch.

The trip gets off to a rocky start, mainly because non-human coterie members are the only ones allowed in first class. Zoëtists, thralls, and other humans (coterie or not), have to sit in coach. And unlike the non-humans, the club car only serves a few varieties of soft drinks. Her subordinates therefore are sitting in first class, while Zoë and Arthur (the boyfriend, along for the ride because his sister destroyed his supply of "prevent me from becoming a zombie" herbs thinking they were marijuana, and therefore he needs to go find his supplier's supplier, the Doyenne) are sitting in less wonderful seats. Arthur, of course, takes Benedryll and sleeps through Reynard (another city talker) making strange conversation with Zoë, a little girls zoëtist playing with her golems, and a ghost train robbery attempted by real ghosts. Real ghosts who died during a corporate training event that left them dressed as cowboys for all eternity.  Since ghosts can be corporeal on ghost trains, this gets problematic when the guns start going off.

Things keep escalating in the Big Easy. At least two characters have connection to Freyja, who went missing in NOLA a few centuries ago. Japanese demons attack the party. A god of disease shows up. (He's actually one of the best new characters in this.)

Really, this one is an improvement over the first one, which got bogged down in the climatic battle of New York. (It was till a heck of a lot of fun.) The characters have some room to grow, a larger plot is being hinted at, geekery is on display (Zoë plays in a D&D 3.5 campaign based out of North Carolina via Skype), and best of all, Zoë so far has managed to escape from some of the worst romantic tropes that tend to infect Urban Fantasy.

I really look forward to the next one, hinted around as being London.