River Road by Suzanne Johnson
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.
I am completely in love with the Sentinels of New Orleans series and author Suzanne Johnson. I devoured the first book Royal Street and then proceeded to beg Tor for an advanced copy of River Road. Johnson has created such an exciting urban fantasy. Delicious, well fleshed out characters, supernatural creatures and excellent world building have made this one of my favorite new series. The tale is set in the rich, eclectic city of New Orleans and I was delighted to visit again.
The tale picks up almost three years after hurricane Katrina, the backdrop for Royal Street. Drusilla (DJ) Jaco is the wizard sentinel in charge of containing and controlling the paranormal creatures that cross over from the Beyond. Not trusting her to handle things alone, she is partnered with shifter, Alex Warin. In this tale wizards are dying and a war is brewing between two clans of merpeople. Something is poisoning the waters of the Mississippi and DJ needs to solve it before the humans get involved. The tale that unfolds is action packed, full of suspense, mystery and a little romance. I was completely swept up in the tale and cannot wait for the next installment.
I love the characters Johnson has created and the new ones she introduces. DJ our kick-ass protagonist is complex, flawed and at times brilliant. We see both growth and setbacks for DJ in this novel. She stretches the limits of her abilities and facing some tough challenges. Alex is smexy, loyal, stubborn and I adore this shifter. We get to see more sides of this yummy, competent enforcer and I enjoyed every minute of it. The two of them are working well together now but the sexual tension is still there. Jake is back, and is dealing with his own demons. This does not stop him from being dark, sexy and dangerous. The sexy, debonair and very dead pirate Jean Lafitte is back. He is as charming as ever and makes his intentions very clear. His grasp or lack of the modern world and slang had me giggling. All three men have a thing for DJ, and we have a few romantic moments. Nothing is resolved in that department and I have firmly chosen my man.*swoons* I will let you decide which hunky guy you a rooting for. We meet merpeople and I loved DJ’s interactions with them, especially with the too cute Rene. They shared some hilarious scenes. I am really hoping he becomes a regular in the series. We also meet a few nymphs and that proved to be interesting. We meet an elf and the encounter was not pleasant and I am anxious for that storyline to develop further..
The world building is one of the things I love most about this series. Johnson has chosen the perfect backdrop to this series with New Orleans. Mix in supernatural creatures, a society of wizards to protect the humans, well fleshed out characters and you have the recipe for endless tales. We learn more about DJ’s background and the staff Gerry left her. While she struggles with the fact that everyone she loves she loses, we do see a lot of growth in her as a Wizard. I love the supernatural and magical elements the author mixes into the tale.The banter between DJ and the others had me giggling aloud. The mystery of the poisoned water and murders was fascinating, and I liked how Johnson revealed clues. Not since the Hollows have I been this enthralled with an urban fantasy. Johnson delivers this tale at a fantastic pace all while weaving different threads of the tale together and bringing them to a climatic ending. While each of these novels can be read as a standalone, some arc development would be lost and I recommend reading them in order.
In case you have not guessed, I loved River Road and highly recommend the Sentinels of New Orleans series to fans of urban fantasy, kick-ass characters and paranormal woo-woo. Elysian Fields the next book in this series will be available in August of 2013 and this reader cannot wait.
I gave this novel 4.5 Cajun roasted coffee cups out of 5