Clay Woods is on the run from someone or something. Or, is he really trying to run away from himself? Driven by this nagging fear that if he doesn’t keep moving, something bad will happen, he spends his last dollar only to wind up in the “Big Easy,” otherwise known as New Orleans. One has to wonder if Clay has jumped from the frying pan into the fire.
Desperate for cash, Clay works construction until he has enough money to move on but ends up spending it at a bar and drinking way too much. It’s not long before he has what appears to be a panic attack over what could be a flashback, and he flees. Unfortunately, three muggers take advantage of his drunkenness and beat the crap out of him. Clay is saved by an odd young woman by the name of Julia and her bevy of cats. It’s clear there is something magical about her (and her cats), and it isn’t long until we discover that she considers herself a witch. She takes Clay under her wing like a lost pet, and he soon meets her equally odd friends who live on the fringes of society. His flashbacks rear their ugly head again, and it appears he was once abducted by aliens. But, that’s not all! New Orleans is rife with magical creatures and mysticism, and Clay and Julia are right in the middle of it. But, the question is . . . is it just New Orleans, or are all these supernatural beings drawn to Clay and Julia for some reason?
Written and illustrated by Michael L. Peters, this is a lovely book with well-drawn art and well-developed characters. I particularly liked the diversity of the characters on numerous levels: race; gender; age; socio-economic status; and possibly sexual orientation. The story moves along at a nice pace, and we get a sense of who Clay and Julia are almost immediately. There is no wasted moment here; however, the whole alien abduction thing did put me off a bit. Mr. Peters has chosen a city that is so rich in culture and magic, I felt that having Clay an abductee was unnecessary. I think his inner demons could have been better served if they were more grounded in nature and could have been used as subtext for all the magic and mayhem going on around him. Julia is a fun and a very self-confident woman who believes in herself and her magic. She comes across as a little ditzy, but she clearly has a better understanding of the world than most of us do.
I loved the cover art, so I was initially disappointed that the book itself was in black and white; however, as I read it, I decided that it suits the story and I know it’s more cost effective. I also appreciated the clarity of how the story is laid out. (One of my pet peeves is stopping on a page and going, “What just happened?” or “Did I miss something?” and having to go back and try to find what may or may not have been missing.) You also get a great feel for those who live under the radar.
All in all, Crescent City Magick is a most enjoyable book with terrific art.