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?
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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January 26, 2009
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Excerpt from The Map of Moments by Christopher Golden
Chapter One In Max’s dream, Gabrielle still loves him. And she is still alive. They’re in the attic of the wood-frame house on Landry Street, making love on top of a decades-out-of-fashion gown that her mother had worn to some ball in her debutante days. Gabrielle had dragged it to the floor and positioned it carefully to avoid getting splinters from the old boards. Golden light streams in and makes her cinnamon Creole skin glisten, and Max’s heart catches in his throat as he moves inside her. She’s the kind of beautiful that clouds the minds of men, and makes even the most envious woman marvel. Yet she has a wild, desperate need in her eyes, as though a fire burns inside her and she believes he might be able to give her peace. “Don’t ever stop,” she says, gazing up at him with copper eyes. Stop what? Making love to her? Loving her? He’s known her only a handful of weeks, and already he realizes that he will never be able to stop. The spell she has cast over him is irrevocable. He suspects that he has opened himself up to anguish, but he drives on with abandon. Better to have her and suffer forever if she should cast him aside, than to never have her at all. Confusion touches him, makes him blink. This isn’t how it was. The ball gown is right, all sequins and charm, and Gabrielle shudders with pleasure, her breath hitching, and that is very right, indeed. She wears a tight tank top with lace straps, her socks, and nothing else. So sweet, and only nineteen . . . but the wisdom and confidence, the sensuality in those eyes belong to a woman who truly understands the world. Gabrielle is the first woman, Eve; the temptation for which Max is willing to risk his reputation and career. But the light shouldn’t be like this. It should be night, with the sounds of car engines and pounding music from the street below. Instead, there is no sound at all, save for her heavy breathing. It’s like listening to a dead phone line—not just an absence of sound but a vacuum. A heavy knocking comes from the door into the attic. Eyes glazed with love and lust, Gabrielle doesn’t hear it, but Max falters. “No, no, baby, come on,” she urges, closing her eyes tightly. The light has changed. Her skin has a bluish tint, but he blinks and it’s gone. Her fingers twine in his hair and she pulls him down. He loses himself in the hunger of her kiss, but when they break apart the wrongness still troubles him. The attic is too clean. Gabrielle flips him over and settles down onto him, and he can feel the heat emanating from the place where they are joined, and the dark ringlets of her hair brush his face as she bends to kiss him again. Max rises to meet her, eyes drifting closed . . . But the attic is too clean, and the knowledge stabs him. This is a moment of magic for Max, like nothing that’s ever happened to him before, but Gabrielle keeps the attic of this old place clean, which makes him wonder how many men have been here before him, and how many felt the same way he does. Floorboards creak, and the attic has changed. It’s impossibly huge. Posters hang on the walls—things he’d had in his office at Tulane University—and in the shadows of the eaves, figures loom. Then, somehow, he can see through the shadows, and he knows these silent observers. He recognizes some of his colleagues and students; Gabrielle’s cousin, Corinne, two men from Roland’s Garage, the bar on Proyas Street where she’d taken him once and he’d been the only white face in the place. They watch, but he feels no menace from them, only sadness, as if they’ve come for a wake. One figure remains in shadow. Max cannot see its face,