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Review: River Road by Suzanne Johnson

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River Road
Author: Suzanne Johnson 
Release Date: Nov. 13, 2012
Publisher: Tor
Sentinels of New Orleans #2
ISBN: #978-0765327802
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Format(s): Hardcover (336 pgs), e-book
Book Source: Author
About the book:
Hurricane Katrina is long gone, but the preternatural storm rages on in New Orleans. New species from the Beyond moved into Louisiana after the hurricane destroyed the borders between worlds, and it falls to wizard sentinel Drusilla Jaco and her partner, Alex Warin, to keep the preternaturals peaceful and the humans unaware. But a war is brewing between two clans of Cajun merpeople in Plaquemines Parish, and down in the swamp, DJ learns, there’s more stirring than angry mermen and the threat of a were-gator. 
Wizards are dying, and something—or someone—from the Beyond is poisoning the waters of the mighty Mississippi, threatening the humans who live and work along the river. DJ and Alex must figure out what unearthly source is contaminating the water and who—or what—is killing the wizards. Is it a malcontented merman, the naughty nymph, or some other critter altogether? After all, DJ’s undead suitor, the pirate Jean Lafitte, knows his way around a body or two.
It’s anything but smooth sailing on the bayou as the Sentinels of New Orleans series continues.
What Im talking about:
The story opens with a meeting between our heroine, Drusilla Jaco (aka DJ) and the historical undead pirate Jean Lafitte. The scene is detailed beautifully, and I felt as if I was party to the entire interaction. Jean shares with DJ that 1) there are merfolks living in the New Orleans area, 2) there is something polluting the waters in the area, which is a threat to both pretes (preternatural beings) and humans, and 3) there is a brewing war between two of the mer-factions. Suddenly, DJ finds herself in the middle of a dangerous whodunit mystery with dangers at every turn. 
Although I didn’t read the first book, Royal Street, Ms. Johnson does a marvelous job of integrating past actions and world-building details into the current storyline. In addition, the descriptive detail provided is beyond marvelous. Similes and metaphors compliment sharp dialogue, fierce action and an intriguing mystery. When put all together, the author paints a richly illustrative image in my mind’s eye. 
Although one can jump in the series with River Road, there is a bit of a learning curve. The mythology is distinct, and although there are familiar characters such as shifters, wizards and merfolk, their origins and many of their characteristics are unique to Ms. Johnson’s series. I had to tweet the author a few questions during the course of reading the book.
Without going into a lot of detail about the different factions and pretes, I will mention a few things I liked a lot. First… I enjoyed the whole wizard congress political set up. It reminded me a bit of Harry Potter in that there is a very complex governing body for all things magical. I love that DJ even wears a pair of Harry Potter PJs! The reader gets a pretty good account of the backbone of the Elders and wizards about a third of the way through the book, and that helped a lot. The primary folks involved in this story are the sentinels (DJ and partner Alex) who seem to me like the inspectors and police of the supernatural world – especially in New Orleans where the doorway between our world and the “Beyond” is opened. In addition there are enforcers who are the military component – security, cleaning up messes, keeping things in line. Oh, by the way, humans know nothing about this world.
I am fascinated by the Elven. DJ is part elf on both sides of her lineage, something that apparently is very rare. We learn a few bits and pieces about this magical, secretive sect, only because DJ herself knows so little. There is much to be learned and some apparent nefarious plots yet to be revealed. 
I am a fan our our heroine, DJ. She is girly, but tough. She doesn’t know everything, but works to figure it out. She is willing to rely on friends, but also will take charge of a situation. She makes mistakes and may whine a short time, but in the end is resilient! 
One thing I didn’t quite get is her apparently extraordinary attractiveness. Don’t get me wrong, I adore her, but she has three alpha males practically drooling over her, as well as a couple of mermen who wouldn’t mind taking her home. First there is Jean Lafitte who appears to have some sort of plans for our heroine. He’s attracted to her, but it’s almost as if he means to capture and possess her as one of his treasures. He may be good looking and very humanlike – but in the end, he is dead.
Then we have cousins Jake and Alex Warin. Alex is a true, born shifter and DJ’s best friend. I don’t know their history from the first book, but Alex was awfully flirtatious, jealous and a tad possessive for “just friends.” I really liked him, but I was constantly worried that his behavior is more due to competition with his cousin than honest feelings for DJ. 
Jake on the other hand is loup-garou (made werewolf). Based on dialogue and memories, it is clear that Jake and DJ were on the verge of something special prior to Hurricane Katrina and Jake turning were. His anger and her guilt kept them apart until the beginning of River Road. With time and forgiveness, the pair seem to have a few sparks. However, Jake’s inability to control his wolf kept things moving slowly. I felt for Jake, and want to see him whole and healed. But honestly, I’m not sure who would be the best romantic interest for DJ. Alex is really making a case for himself, and the way things ended… well, I’m anxious to see what is next for our group. 
In the end I have to say I really enjoyed River Road! The primary plot is an absorbing mystery and a pretty good one at that. I will admit I didn’t know whodunit. And while I am not a fan of love triangles, I appreciate DJ’s confusion and the romantic story line is well played thus far. There is much more to learn about DJ and her powers, the elves and DJ’s new neighbor. My interest is certainly piqued!!
My Rating:

Loved it – enthusiastically recommend (A)






Purchase Info:

River Road (Sentinels of New Orleans #2)
  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08561489048819855665 Roger

    I have read the ARC of River Road and liked it a lot. Enjoyed your review and glad you gave it an A. Hope others will go buy the book and book one, Royal Street if they haven’t read it already. Big fan of The Sentinels of New Orleans series.

  • Pingback: Review: Elysian Fields by Suzanne Johnson | That's What I'm Talking About...

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