New Orleans sits on “unfortunate land” – hundreds of years before the city’s founding, primordial miasmas congealed into a hotspot of bad luck energy. Then human settlers arrived and meddled with the natural environment. To defend itself, the miasma reached into the settlers’ subconscious minds and pulled forth archetypes of superstitiously dreaded evil-eye and trickster spirits. These religious and ethnic archetypes served as psychic armatures for the miasma’s physical servitors. They became the members of the Miasma Social Aid and Pleasure Club. Their mission — to bedevil mortal attempts to alter the region’s topography and ultimately to drive humanity out of Southeastern Louisiana altogether.
By the beginning of the twenty-first century, the Miasma Club boasts thirteen members, bad luck spirits based on American Indian, French, English, African, Irish, German, Italian, Jewish, Greek, and Vietnamese superstitions. Kay Rosenblatt, an ayin hora, or Yiddish manifestation of the Evil Eye, finds herself forced into the role of unwilling co-conspirator. She has come to dearly love the people of New Orleans and her own community of Ashkenazi Jews. In conjunction with her sometimes friend and partner, Houma Indian trickster Owl Lookingback, she searches desperately for a way to derail the Miasma Club’s plans – even though, should the members discover her treachery, they will destroy her.
Mayor Roy Rio is a charismatic, technologically astute African-American leader who was elected by a rare alliance of black and white voters on a platform of economic reform. Among his closest allies are the multi-ethnic entrepreneurs behind MuckGen, Inc., an energy research and development firm founded to exploit unique cellular energy resources discovered in New Orleans’ swampy soils. Unbeknownst to the MuckGen scientists and Mayor Rio, however, is that the “unique energy resources” are actually the miasmatic energy which powers the Miasma Club – and the members of that club are loathe to allow the hated mortals to leech away any of their Mother’s lifeblood.
In order to halt this theft before it can even begin, the leaders of the Miasma Club formulate “Project Big Blow.” Not only will they attract a killer hurricane to the region. . . they will also use their bad luck powers to cripple the city’s ability to protect its people and to keep flood waters out of the seventy percent of the metropolis which lies below sea level. Although Kay Rosenblatt influenced the Army Corps of Engineers to build New Orleans’ protective levees to dangerously inadequate standards, now she wants to “go over to the other side” — she wants to become one of the legendary Muses, the inspirations behind the city’s acclaimed musicians, writers, and artists. But she isn’t sure the Muses really exist. . . and her mysterious friend Owl refuses to tell her.
Kay begs nurse Lily Weintraub, Kay’s future sister-in-law and Mayor Rio’s onetime high school sweetheart, to warn the mayor of the deadly conspiracy. Her efforts fail miserably, however. And New Orleans is left helpless before the oncoming devastation of Hurricane Antonia, a vicious Category 5 storm.
In 1840, New Orleans was America’s second wealthiest city and one of its largest. However, within a hundred and sixty-five years, New Orleans had become the poster child for all the nation’s worst failings – rampant crime, horrendous public schools, urban decay, and racial tensions. What happened to make the Crescent City such a basket case, as well as one of the world’s metropolises most vulnerable to natural disasters? The Bad Luck Spirits’ Social Aid and Pleasure Club tells the secret history of the shadowy war between New Orleans’ builders and boosters and the supernatural conspiracy determined to devolve the city to its swampy origins.