Ghost Train To New Orleans by Mur Lafferty (book review).

Welcome to ‘Ghost Train To New Orleans’, book two in this shambling series of unknown length, personally I hope it carries on for ages as I’m really enjoying it. Book one being ‘The Shambling Guide To New York’.


Now that Zoe has got her head around the fact that there are numerous creatures belonging to the Coterie (both human and non-human) living amongst us, she can now get on with her job of writing travel guides to various cities for them. This is helped by the fact that she has discovered she is in fact a human Coterie of the Citytalker persuasion. Basically, this means she can hear the thoughts of any given city and communicate with it, this is both bad and good. Bad because she is now one of the more munchable human Coterie. Good because it helps her no end in her current job and also helps her stay alive when she inevitably gets herself into trouble. Given the success of her previous guide to New York, her boss has sent her to New Orleans as one of the more interesting cities for Coterie to visit. However, this isn’t the only thing that brings her to New Orleans, she also has to bring along her boyfriend, Arthur, who happens to have lost his special tea that keeps his zombie side from taking over and his only hope of help lies in The Big Easy. Given she’s now travelling with a partial zombie, Gwen – a goddess of the dead, Eir – a goddess of healing and Kevin and Opal – a couple of vampires, things are not going to go easy for her!

As in the previous book, we get to see snippets of the guide at the beginning of every chapter and they really are hilarious and eye-opening. I really wish we got to see more of the guides, maybe a publishing idea for the future? I also loved the huge amount of geek references, I’m pretty sure I didn’t get them all but one of my absolute favourites is the names of Zoe’s pet fish, they’re called Lister and Kochanski! You can tell the author is hugely into the SF/geek world, and is probably an android user rather than an IOS user. She also appears to love books as much as me as Zoe is constantly surprised that other people don’t carry around a small library just in case you want something to read, this is something that always surprises me as well.

We learn loads more about the different types of creatures, etc in the Coterie, for example, there are human types such as vampires, Citytalkers and the most powerful ones called Zoetists. There are also the more interesting to me are the non-human types such as the gods and goddesses, zombies, dragons, etc. Who knew that dragons could change shape to look like humans? Oh and we met some ghosts as well, which I suppose is unsurprising given the first part of the book is set on a ghost train.

The book science behind these ghosts was really interesting and not something I’d seen before. They are normal ghosts all see-through, etc until they step onto the train at which point they are then corporeal because it’s a ghost train. I really enjoy when authors have thought through the ‘science’ behind their creatures.

I felt that it was very bold of Mur Lafferty to use the recent Hurricane Katrina and her complete destruction of New Orleans as an almost character in the book. This comes about because Zoe talks to the city and discovers the city is still not completely recovered after the hurricane and that certain water-based Coterie caused some of the destruction and are now banned from the city. I also liked how we learnt about the way the city works through Zoe’s conversations and also through her learning process. Like, for example, there are not many cemeteries with underground graves but lots of mausoleums which causes some problems for the vampires in the group.

Overall, I felt that the pace kept up through this book, which is not bad given it’s the second in a series and these books often fall victim to ‘second book syndrome’. I also liked the possible sneak peeks into future books with the newly introduced secret Coterie organisation to learn more about and a possible hint to a book based in London? I can’t wait for more books in this series!

Sarah Bruch

November 2014

follow me @shelbycat

(pub: Orbit. 319 page small enlarged paperback. Price: £ 8.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-356-50191-8)
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