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River Road by Suzanne Johnson
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Member:TheLostEntwife
Title:River Road
Authors:Suzanne Johnson
Info:Tor Books (2012), Hardcover, 336 pages
Collections:2012 Reads
Rating:****
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River Road by Suzanne Johnson

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River Road by Suzanne Johnson is the second in the Sentinels of New Orleans series, so there might be some spoilers for the first book, though nothing too big since they occur pretty far apart. I had trouble getting in to the first book, Royal Street, but I ended up loving River Road much more. I highly recommend you give the second book a try even if you were only so-so on the first book ;-).
Note: I purchased River Road.



River Road by Suzanne Johnson (Sentinels of New Orleans #2)
Published by Tor Books on November 13th, 2012
Genres: Adult, Urban Fantasy
Length: 336 pages
How I got my copy: Purchased
IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog
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 someone—or something—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 urban fantasy series continues. -- Goodreads

Strengths:
I have read very few urban fantasy that focus heavily on mermaids, but River Road did just that! It really makes perfect sense giving the New Orleans setting after all. I was quite happy with how merpeople were presented (werefish basically), which has been rare in my mermaid reading.
The plot twists, especially the big reveal, were quite clever and I definitely didn’t see them coming. I always enjoy being duped by a book :D.
River Road had a fun summer feel to it, making now the perfect time to read it! Royal Street had a very dark and sad feel with the Katrina setting, but River Road had a much stronger emphasis on sunny deltas which was nice to read about.
The writing style of River Road was very light and readable. I found myself excited to sink back in and have some fun, making me finish it in just over two days.
Weaknesses:
The combination of weres, shifters and a sexy neighbor reminded me strongly of the Mercy Thompson series. Obviously UF stories are going to have some similarities being in the same genre, but there was a moment where I sat back and furrowed my brow in distress at how close River Road came.
Tired of love triangles? Try love quadrangles! Seriously, I don’t care how awesome a female MC is, three guys is just a little ridiculous.
River Road is set ~3 years after Royal Street, which was a bit of a time jump to take. Except when the timing was mentioned, it really didn’t feel like three years had passed for the relationships, so it seemed just a convenient way to avoid too much Katrina damage….
Summary:
River Road takes full advantage of the New Orleans setting but goes back to the fun and easy readability that UF is awesome for. While there are some tropes I’m just tired of, River Road did bring merpeople to the UF genre in a way I haven’t heard of before and was quite enjoyable to explore. I’m hoping there isn’t so much of a time jump for the next book though, otherwise our characters might start dying of old age by the end of the series! (Well, not actually since I think all of them are long lived…. Silly wizards!) ( )
  anyaejo | Jan 7, 2014 |
See my review of this book, and many more, at Tales from the Great East Road.


(Spoilers for book one.)

It’s been three years since Hurricane Katrina blew through New Orleans, and through DJ’s life, but she has come to terms with what happened and is settled with her life working for the Elder wizards along side her close friend and FBI enforcer, Alex. But when, out of the blue, undead pirate Jean Lafitte contacts DJ about conflict between two clans of merpeople and the debt she owes him for saving her life, DJ must investigate before poisoned water spreads and harms the humans of the city. Whilst breaking up fights between the mermen, and judging whether to trust Jean and his advances on her, DJ also has to juggle a werewolf who likes her but may not be able to control himself, her parner Alex who is suddenly acting funny around her, and the elves who want to meet (and probably use) her. Maybe running off to the Beyond with an undead pirate isn’t the worst idea in the world…

River Road picks up three years after the events of Royal Street, and though the time gap may seem a little much, the main characters have , thankfully, not changed. This book is in fact an improvement over the first: the pacing is a lot more even, the events are better connected to each other and don’t feel hastily thrown together (as the last book suffered a little from), and DJ on the whole felt more sure of herself without losing any of her humour, stubbornness, or practical mindedness. She is a character who is not afraid to get her hands dirty or push her limits. Though this is a trait often found in Urban Fantasy heroines, DJ doesn’t fall into the trap of being too headstrong to make rational decisions that end up putting herself in danger. When danger does arise, she uses the backup help Alex offers her, without insisting she doesn’t need him or taking his offer to mean that he thinks she isn’t strong enough.

The world of this series is expanding, be it slowly. River Road heavily featured merpeople, nymphs, and their relation to the human world, but also mentions the River Styx (a place in the Beyond), the fact that the Beyond has links to different time periods, and the elves (who seem to be becoming an increasingly bigger part of DJ’s life as she tries to research her own elven heritage). Once again the Beyond is visited, but only briefly, giving the reader an almost infuriatingly small glimpse of this huge world. As DJ learns more about herself, and discovers yet more ways the Elders are trying to keep wizards from travelling to the Beyond, I can only hope that this means a greater amount of time spent there.

The other big part of this book is the romance, and all the male character are written so well, it’s hard to know who to choose. Though slowly taken, DJ has not one but three romantic interests, each with their own charms and faults. Her partner and friend Alex seems the obvious choice, as the relationship they have is both sweet and funny – in any other series he’d be the only guy to root for. Whilst his cousin Jake also seems sweet, his struggle to control himself since he became a werewolf makes him dangerous, but also sympathetic and vulnerable beneath his tough exterior. Lastly, Jean Laffite is the wild card, both dangerous and attractive. Though he (mostly) behaves in this book, the fact that he not only hurt DJ in book one but actually tried to kill her, makes him unstable and untrustworthy. Had that incident not happened, I would have been a big fan of Jean.

In summery, River Road takes everything that was good in Royal Street and makes it better. Add some more journeying into the Beyond, and the next book may even be a five star read.

4 stars. ( )
  Great_East_Road | Sep 25, 2013 |
Mix a heap of fantasy, a little bit of mythology, a good dose of mystery, a splash of romance and a lot of humor and you end up with Suzanne Johnson's River Road. This was a thoroughly enjoyable mix of elements that had me entertained throughout and left me guessing until the end.

Second in the Sentinals of New Orleans series, River Road is set 3 years after the events of the first book, Royal Street. Fans returning to the series will find enough references to the first book to refresh your memory without feeling like you're reading a rehashing of it. Newcomers to the series need not worry, either. The references are enough to fill in the gaps so you don't feel lost but this story can stand on it's own and you won't feel like you're missing out. Although, after reading River Road, I bet you'll want to search out a copy of Royal Street next!

The main part of the story revolves around 2 issues: a dispute between two rival clans of mer-people and the murder of local wizards. The main character, DJ (or Drusilla) is a Sentinal tasked with solving the dispute and finding the murderer. She is joined by her partner, Alex, in the investigations. The mystery here is good. It kept me guessing until the end of the book. I did figure it out before all was revealed but I really felt that I was discovering the clues right along with DJ. There are some minor twists that kept the plot fresh and made it interesting.

The world-building is where this book really shines. It's a great mix of supernatural (The Beyond, for example), and modern-day post-Katrina New Orleans. It is clear that the author has a real love for and knowledge of the area. I've personally never been, but I felt like I was visiting while reading. Her descriptions - from the landscape to the smells to the food and music - really evoke a sense that you are right there with the characters. New Orleans as a city is steeped in supernatural myth and legend so it is really the perfect backdrop for Urban Fantasy.

The species introduced and mentioned are also interesting. We meet or hear about mer-people, nyphms, undead pirates, shape-shifters, weres and elves among other things. Enough information is given through the story and the dialogue that the reader becomes familiar with them without feeling like you're reading a textbook about mythology. We find out just enough for things to make sense without getting a huge info-dump.

There is also some romance for all you PNR fans out there. There are no graphic sex scenes - in fact, there are no sex scenes. Instead, there is a genuine progression of relationship between DJ and her three suitors. The undead pirate, Jean Lafitte, is bad news but is attracted to DJ and convinces her to go out on a date with him. Jake is an old flame that wants to rekindle things but he's a shape-shifter and his lack of control is dangerous. Alex is her partner and what started as a love/hate relationship with lots of attraction is starting to morph into something more. The romance is not a part of the main plotline. Instead it weaves it's way in an out of the character's interactions in a way that feels much more natural than in most PNR. It was refreshing to read a book where the romance is clean and a subplot rather than in the forefront.

Another strength was the character interaction. The dialogue is well-written and felt real. There were quite a few places where I found myself chuckling.

Overall, I very much enjoyed this one and am looking forward to seeing where the series leads. The series so far reminds me a lot in style to the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs or the Anita Blake series by Laurel K. Hamilton (without all the graphic sex). Fans of those series as well as fans of Urban Fantasy and Supernatural in general should definitely pick this one up and give it a try. ( )
  CherieReads | Sep 23, 2013 |
Part of a book tour. Review to come! ( )
  a_tiffyfit | Sep 21, 2013 |
From my blog:



River Road by Suzanne Johnson is the second in the Sentinels of New Orleans series, so there might be some spoilers for the first book, though nothing too big since they occur pretty far apart. I had trouble getting in to the first book, Royal Street, but I ended up loving River Road much more. I highly recommend you give the second book a try even if you were only so-so on the first book ;-).

Strengths:
I have read very few urban fantasy that focus heavily on mermaids, but River Road did just that! It really makes perfect sense giving the New Orleans setting after all. I was quite happy with how merpeople were presented (werefish basically), which has been rare in my mermaid reading.
The plot twists, especially the big reveal, were quite clever and I definitely didn’t see them coming. I always enjoy being duped by a book :D.
River Road had a fun summer feel to it, making now the perfect time to read it! Royal Street had a very dark and sad feel with the Katrina setting, but River Road had a much stronger emphasis on sunny deltas which was nice to read about.
The writing style of River Road was very light and readable. I found myself excited to sink back in and have some fun, making me finish it in just over two days.

Weaknesses:
The combination of weres, shifters and a sexy neighbor reminded me strongly of the Mercy Thompson series. Obviously UF stories are going to have some similarities being in the same genre, but there was a moment where I sat back and furrowed my brow in distress at how close River Road came.
Tired of love triangles? Try love quadrangles! Seriously, I don’t care how awesome a female MC is, three guys is just a little ridiculous.
River Road is set ~3 years after Royal Street, which was a bit of a time jump to take. Except when the timing was mentioned, it really didn’t feel like three years had passed for the relationships, so it seemed just a convenient way to avoid too much Katrina damage….

Summary:
River Road takes full advantage of the New Orleans setting but goes back to the fun and easy readability that UF is awesome for. While there are some tropes I’m just tired of, River Road did bring merpeople to the UF genre in a way I haven’t heard of before and was quite enjoyable to explore. I’m hoping there isn’t so much of a time jump for the next book though, otherwise our characters might start dying of old age by the end of the series! (Well, not actually since I think all of them are long lived…. Silly wizards!) ( )
  anyaejo | Aug 4, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0765327805, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:23:54 -0400)

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 somethin--or someon--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--s 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.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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