The best books set in New Orleans

Who am I?

I’ve been fascinated by New Orleans ever since hearing Bobby Bare’s novelty record “Marie Laveau” when I was a child. I had wanted to visit for ages, and Hurricane Katrina made me despair of ever getting there. Now that I’ve been there, New Orleans owns a piece of my heart. When I set out to write Bayou Fire, I was determined to do it right. I read everything I could get my hands on, fiction and non-fiction, about 1830s New Orleans. I wanted not only the facts but the atmosphere. Furthermore, I made several research trips, not only to Crescent City but to the plantations. I immersed myself in the period and the culture to the greatest degree possible to bring an authentic tale to light.


I wrote...

Bayou Fire

By Sharon E. Cathcart,

Book cover of Bayou Fire

What is my book about?

Award-winning author Sharon E. Cathcart presents her first full-length historical paranormal tale, set against the backdrops of modern-day and 1830s New Orleans.

Diana Corbett’s childhood was plagued by unceasing dreams of smoke and flames. The nightmares went away, until the noted travel writer’s first night on assignment in Louisiana … when they returned with a vengeance. Could the handsome Cajun, Amos Boudreaux, be the key to unlocking the secret of Bayou Fire? Bayou Fire is the recipient of the in D’Tale Crowned Heart Award, the Chill with a Book Reader Award, and the AuthorsDB Silver Medal for Cover Design.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of A Free Man of Color

Sharon E. Cathcart Why did I love this book?

This first book in the Benjamin January mystery series got me hooked for life. Author Barbara Hambly takes us deep into the culture of free people of color in 1830s New Orleans with this well-researched mystery series. A musician by trade and a physician by training, January is well-positioned as an amateur investigator. He sees and hears everything as a musician, but his medical training gives him expertise that white sheriff Abishag Shaw lacks — and is more than happy to draw on. This first book involves a murder at one of the infamous quadroon balls, where January happens to have been playing piano and will draw you in from the very beginning.

By Barbara Hambly,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked A Free Man of Color as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This lush and haunting novel tells of a city steeped in decadent pleasures and of a man, proud and defiant, caught in a web of murder and betrayal.

It is 1833. In the midst of Mardi Gras, Benjamin January, a Creole physician and music teacher, is playing piano at the Salle d'Orléans when the evening's festivities are interrupted--by murder.

The ravishing Angelique Crozat, a notorious octoroon who travels in the city's finest company, has been strangled to death. With the authorities reluctant to become involved, Ben begins his own inquiry, which will take him through the seamy haunts of riverboatmen…


Book cover of Gods of New Orleans

Sharon E. Cathcart Why did I love this book?

In a complete departure from the previous book, Gods of New Orleans is a dieselpunk science fiction adventure. 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. 

I loved this book not only for the adventure tale but also for its thought-provoking management of racial inequality.

By AJ Sikes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Gods of New Orleans as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With nothing but horror behind her, Emma Farnsworth pilots the Airship Vigilance into the night sky outside of Chicago City on a one-way trip to New Orleans. She’s carrying precious cargo: her lover and four other strays that escaped the nightmare of gods and monsters on the shores of Lake Michigan. The trip hasn’t been anything like fun, but it’s been quiet. And for Emma’s money, quiet equals good. Good enough to think they might make it to New Orleans without a hitch. Like the saying goes . . . The good things come to a fast end. Emma and…


Book cover of Color Blind

Sharon E. Cathcart Why did I love this book?

This time, let’s have a look at a young adult novel. In Color Blind, April Lockhart's dad has passed away, and since she's only 17 years old she has to go live with her aunt in New Orleans. To say that April is unhappy about this is to greatly understate the situation. She meets Miles Baptiste when she decides to take a cemetery and voodoo tour ... and that's when she meets Marguerite, as well.

The voodoo priestess seems to know a good many things about April. The book proceeds through April's misadventures, taking the reader on a tour of New Orleans that touches not only the tourist spots but also the Lower Nine and more hard-hit areas yet to recover after Hurricane Katrina. We see April go on a journey of maturation and self-discovery as well.

What I loved about this book was its examination of New Orleans from the perspective of a younger person. The mild supernatural elements were also entertaining. Voodoo is part and parcel of New Orleans culture; it only makes sense to touch on it.

By Sheila Sobel,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Color Blind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

A 2017 Killer Nashville Award Winner
A 2017 Readers' Choice Award for Best Fiction-Young Adult

April is alone in the world. When she was only a baby, her teenage mother took off and now, unbelievably, her dad has died. Nobody's left to take April in except her mom's sister, a free spirit who's a chef in New Orleans--and someone who April's never met. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, April is suddenly supposed to navigate a city that feels just like she feels, fighting back from impossibly bad breaks. But it's Miles, a bayou boy, who really brings April into…


Book cover of Rescued by a Kiss

Sharon E. Cathcart Why did I love this book?

Schnauzer rescuer Brandy Alexander is tired of living with her parents, not sure what's going on in her relationship with her boyfriend, Dante, and is looking for a little fun. She gets way more than she bargained for when she kisses a handsome stranger during a Mardi Gras parade ... as he's shot in front of her and pretty soon it seems like the New Orleans gangsters are after her, too. This is a super-cute cozy mystery featuring dogs, intrigue, fun characters, and the Big Easy. What more could you ask for?

By Colleen Mooney,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rescued by a Kiss as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One kiss and her world turns upside down. Can she solve the case that threatens his life?

Brandy Alexander never thought living in the Big Easy could feel so dull. And, as she waits painfully for her long-time NOPD boyfriend to propose, she’s not sure their hearts are beating to the same tune. When she’s kissed by a handsome stranger at a Mardi Gras parade, her electric thrills turn to shock when he’s shot right before her eyes.

Watching in horror as he’s whisked away by an ambulance, she is haunted by his gasping request. Brandy races to track down…


Book cover of Fanny Newcomb and the Irish Channel Ripper

Sharon E. Cathcart Why did I love this book?

Fanny Newcomb is the daughter of a New Orleans lawyer. Having shunned a marriage proposal from her late father's partner, she comes to work at the Settlement House. There, she teaches reading, accounting, and other skills to young immigrant women in Crescent City. When her most promising student is murdered, Fanny starts looking into matters herself. Why?

One of the other women at Wisdom House, Olive Giddings, is a physician -- she was first on the scene and knows that Nora was strangled. Soon, though, the papers are claiming that Nora is the victim of the Irish Channel Ripper. And then, the House's German carpenter is arrested for the crime. So, Fanny has a vested interest in finding the real assailant and proving Karl innocent.

What I love about this book is the rich historical detail. We not only get a look at women’s roles but also at New Orleans’ own Gilded Age. Brazil’s detailed end-notes show us which characters were real people and give additional insight into the political and social scene of the Crescent City

By Ana Brazil,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fanny Newcomb and the Irish Channel Ripper as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"...a promising start from a new author" —Historical Novel Review.Winner of 2018 IPPY Gold Ben Franklin in Historical Fiction. Gilded Age New Orleans is overrun with prostitutes, pornographers, and a malicious Jack the Ripper copycat. As threatening letters to newspaper editors proclaim, no woman is safe from his blade.
Desperate to know who murdered her favorite student, ambitious typewriting teacher Fanny Newcomb launches into a hunt for the self-proclaimed Irish Channel Ripper.
Fanny quickly enlists the help of her well-connected employers—Principal Sylvia Giddings and her sister Dr. Olive—and together the women forge through saloons, cemeteries, slums, and houses of prostitution.…


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Book cover of The Wild Rose and the Sea Raven

Jennifer Ivy Walker Author Of Winter Solstice in the Crystal Castle

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author French teacher Avid reader Lover of medieval romance European traveler

Jennifer's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

As the sole heir to the crown of Ireland, Issylte must flee her stepmother (the wicked queen who seeks her death), finding shelter with a fairy witch who teaches her the verdant magic of the enchanted forest. Fate leads Issylte to the otherworldly realm of the Lady of the Lake and the Elves of Avalon, where she must choose between her new life as a gifted Celtic healer or fight to save her ravaged kingdom.

The chivalrous hero of this medieval romance is Tristan of Lyonesse, a Knight of the Round Table who must overcome the horrors of his past and defend his uncle, King Marke of Cornwall, against the Morholt, the indomitable Black Knight who commands the Viking forces of the ruthless Irish queen. When Tristan becomes a warrior of the ancient Tribe of Dana, a gift of Druidic magic might bestow upon him the power he needs to ally with Issylte and confront the Black Widow Queen, who threatens them both.

Haunted and hunted. Entwined by fate. Can their passion and power prevail?

By Jennifer Ivy Walker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Wild Rose and the Sea Raven as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this dark fairy tale adaptation of a medieval French legend, Issylte must flee the wicked queen, finding shelter with a fairy witch who teaches her the verdant magic of the forest. Fate leads her to the otherworldly realm of the Lady of the Lake and the Elves of Avalon, where she must choose between her life as a healer or fight to save her ravaged kingdom.
Tristan of Lyonesse is a Knight of the Round Table who must overcome the horrors of his past and defend his king or lose everything. When he becomes a warrior of the Tribe…


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