Monday, July 15, 2013

Book Review: River Road, Book One of Sentinels of New Orleans


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Royal Street
Sentinels of New Orleans 
Book One
Suzanne Johnson
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Tor Books
ISBN: 978-0765327796
ASIN: B006OM459U
Number of pages: 337
Word Count: approx. 94,000
 Cover Artist: Cliff Nielsen
Welcome to our blog today, Suzanne! We are so excited for our:
Interview with a Merman

We’re chatting today with Rene Delachaise, who’s head of his family of merpeople that live in Plaquemines Parish, east of New Orleans (if Louisiana is a boot, Plaquemines is the toe). Rene’s of Cajun (Acadian) heritage, and his clan has been in Louisiana for more than two centuries, blending with humans.

Rene (in Louisiana, his name would be pronounced REN-nay or REN-nee) is about 5-9, which is tall for a merman, and has black hair cut short, eyes such a dark brown they’re almost black, and impossibly long eyelashes. And he has lots of tattoos; there’s one that’s a bottle-nosed dolphin and it’s on his—

RENE: Babe, you better stop right there or I’m gonna show it to you. Last time I did that, you turned the color of a Creole tomato.

Uh…yeah, okay. So, moving right along. What would you like humans to know about merpeople?

RENE: Like they’re gonna believe me? They got this whole “Little Mermaid” thing going on, and “Splash.” Did you see that movie? Man.

Try us. Tell us what merfolk are and aren’t.

RENE: Well, we are water-shifters, what you call aquatic shapeshifters I guess. We can do the two-legged human bit, or shift halfway—which is what most humans think of as the merperson form, or shift all the way into fish form. Give us a lot of flexibility, you know, depending on if we need hands. And mers are born. If I bite you it’s ‘cause I’m hungry. Ain’t gonna turn you into me.

Um…you just had lunch, right? So you’ve been doing some underwater work for the wizard sentinel in New Orleans. What do you think of the sentinel, DJ?

RENE: Aw, she’s okay for a wizard. She ain’t as bad as some of them—wizards always think they’re right even when the truth’s staring at ‘em like a gator zeroed in on a duck. She’s pretty good to work for ‘cause she pays what I ask, and she’s fun to embarrass, and she attracts trouble like dead fish attract flies. She’s a walking disaster-in-progress. The girl ain’t ever boring. Did you know she set the Louisiana wetlands on fire?

DJ does seem to have a little problem aiming her elven staff.

RENE: She aims like a girl.

That’s kind of sexist.

RENE: Yeah, you right. But it ain’t really sexist if it’s the truth, babe.

What do you think about her partner Alexander Warin, and his cousin Jake?

RENE: I like Alex, but he’s in for a world of heartache, man. I mean, he’s getting a thing for that wizard, and he ain’t the kind of guy who likes mess, you know? And DJ’s got her a messy life. Jake…Man, ever since he got turned loup-garou, the biggest baddest kind of werewolf, he’s been slidin’ downhill. I hope he hits bottom before he hurts somebody.

Tell me about your buddy Jean Lafitte, who’s a member of the Historical Undead—famous humans given immortality by the magic of human memory. You guys are business partners?

RENE: (Long pause.) Let’s just say me and Jean, we got some business dealings you don’t need to be writin’ about. 

You mean they’re illegal?

RENE: Did I say that?

Fine, then. Tell me how you and Jean got to be friends. Met on the open seas while raping and pillaging?

RENE: (Laughs.) You say that to the pirate’s face and see what he does. Jean, he been knowin’ my papa for a long time and that’s how we met. We’ve had more, uh, things in common since I grew up and took over the territory in Plaquemines.

Like smuggling? Those kinds of things in common?

RENE: You said it, babe. I didn’t.

Fine, we’ll move on. You recently had some run-ins with another mer clan, the Villeres. Did that get settled?

RENE: If the wizards had left it to me, I’d a just killed ‘em and it would be done. Wizards gotta drag shi..stuff out. The Villeres have moved on and I hope the weregators in their new territory hand ‘em their tail fins and spit the scales from between their teeth.

That’s kind of harsh.

RENE: I blame that damned merman Denis Villere for a lot that happened last month. If you ask me, he got off too easy.

What about the nymphs?

RENE: I ain’t talkin’ about this, babe. In fact, I’m outta here. Only two days till gator season’s over and I got tags to fill.

Wait, one last question. You’re an eligible bachelor. What does Rene Delachaise look for in a woman?

RENE: I’m partial to brunettes, but the main thing a woman needs to spend time with me is a lot of stamina. You know what I mean, babe? Need me to show you?

Well, thanks, Rene. I know you have gators to catch and tobacco to smuggle. See ya.
    
Book Description:
   
As the junior wizard sentinel for New Orleans, Drusilla Jaco's job involves a lot more potion-mixing and pixie-retrieval than sniffing out supernatural bad guys like rogue vampires and lethal were-creatures. DJ's boss and mentor, Gerald St. Simon, is the wizard tasked with protecting the city from anyone or anything that might slip over from the preternatural beyond.

 
Then Hurricane Katrina hammers New Orleans' fragile levees, unleashing more than just dangerous flood waters. While winds howled and Lake Pontchartrain surged, the borders between the modern city and the Otherworld crumbled. Now the undead and the restless are roaming the Big Easy, and a serial killer with ties to voodoo is murdering soldiers sent to help the city recover.

 
To make it worse, Gerald St. Simon has gone missing, the wizards' Elders have assigned a grenade-toting assassin as DJ's new partner, and undead pirate Jean Lafitte wants to make her walk his plank. The search for Gerry and the killer turns personal when DJ learns the hard way that loyalty requires sacrifice, allies come from the unlikeliest places, and duty mixed with love creates one bitter roux.

River Road
Sentinels of New Orleans 
Book 2
Suzanne Johnson
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Tor Books
ISBN: 978-0765327802
ASIN: B00842H5VI
Number of pages: 336
Word Count: approx. 92,000
Cover Artist: Cliff Nielsen    
  
Book Description:
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.

Paranormal Romance Fans for Life Review:

We Give this book 4 Bites!!

     I went into this book without any expectations whatsoever. In fact, I'd forgotten what it was even supposed to be about. I was in for a GREAT treat! Let me first remind everyone that I'm from South Mississippi and about 2 1/2 hours from New Orleans. I was immediately struck by the setting! The author has perfectly captured the heart of one of my absolute favorite cities and placed magic in it.I loved the appearance of Jean Lafite. For those who don't know, he really was famous in the south Louisiana area. In fact, there are several pirate festivals in that area of the state each year. Amazing character addition and good homage to the state's history! The story line was completely on point for me. I quickly read this book one night when I woke up at 2am and was astounded at how fast I finished. I could not put it down. I had to know what was happening next!  Do be warned that this is the second book in a series, but I had not read the second book and I had no trouble understanding what was going on. I never once felt like I was missing something. There were a few instances where I realized, "oh yeah, this is a series," but I was never confused. 

All in all, I highly recommend River Road. Again, I MAY be partially biased as a fan of both fantasy and my beloved New Orleans....but shouldn't everyone be a fan of both of those anyways? Check this book out as well as the first book in the series, Royal Street. I fully intend to read Royal Street as soon as I get the chance!

-M

About the Author:
Suzanne Johnson writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance from Auburn, Alabama, after a career in educational publishing that has spanned five states and six universities.  She grew up halfway between the Bear Bryant Museum and Elvis' birthplace and lived in New Orleans for fifteen years, so she has a highly refined sense of the absurd and an ingrained love of SEC football and fried gator on a stick.