Gods of New Orleans - AJ Sikes, Eloise J. Knapp

This is the first dieselpunk novel I've read. Not sure what that is? Think Chicago Gangland, 1920s -- Frank Nitti, Al Capone ... you know the deal, right? Now, throw in airships, paranormal stuff with gods and monsters -- and you've got this book!

"Gods of New Orleans" is AJ Sikes' second novel (the first is Gods of Chicago). While this book is technically a sequel, it stands alone. Emma Farnsworth, her saxophone-playing boyfriend Eddie Collins, and the Conroy family have escaped from Chicago City and are going to start life again in New Orleans. However, everything they think they know about New Orleans is turned on its ear. People of color are in charge. White people are expected to keep their eyes averted, refer to people of color as "sir" or "ma'am" ... and mixed ethnicity couples like Emma and Eddie are eyed askance. White people are also expected to carry a little tin badge with them if they're "working out" -- which is what slaves who were allowed to "sleep out" in New Orleans during the 19th C. were required to do.

In short: Sikes has turned the typical examination of racism on its ear with this book. He's created a tale people with relatable characters like Aiden Conroy, who is sold to a brothel as their houseboy ... and is putting his money aside to try to get him and his mother out of New Orleans after his father drinks himself to death and becomes one of the Mud Men ... monsters from another world who want to drag everyone down with them. We have Mitchell Brand, former newspaper boss and now Mud Man who is trying to get messages to the gods and monsters that are inside some of the characters; I found him to be one of the most sympathetic characters in the book. And, of course, we have airship pilot Emma Farnsworth ... who starts to smell a rat about what's *really* happening in a house called (you guessed it) the Rising Sun.

This is a great adventure in jazz-age New Orleans that will make you think and keep you turning pages.