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.
Four and a half stars: An Urban Fantasy Series you need to be reading!
Hurricane Katrina is three years past, but DJ and the rest of New Orleans are still feeling the aftermath. The preternaturals are able to come over from the Beyond at will as the barriers have been dropped. It is up to DJ and her partner, Alex, to keep everyone in line. That proves to be a problem when the mer clans begin to war, each accusing the other of poisoning the river. If DJ doesn't get to the bottom of the river contamination, there is a chance an all out war could break out among the mers, and worse yet, the human population could start dying. Luckily, DJ has plenty of backup, but the question is can she find out who is poisoning the river?
What I Liked:
- I love so many elements of this series. It has great characters, a phenomenal setting, lots of different paranormal entities including the undead, sexy pirate Jean Lafitte, and a romance that will keep you on the edge of your seat. If you are a fan of UF, I highly recommend you check out these books, they are fast moving to the top of my list for favorite UF books.
- My favorite aspect of this series is the New Orleans setting. I have never had the opportunity to visit New Orleans, though, it is on the top of my list to do so. Ms. Johnson brings New Orleans to the reader in a true light. She doesn't romanticize the city like so many authors. Instead she strives to paint a realistic portrait of the city with all of its crime and dark sides as well as the parts that attract hundreds of tourists every year. You get both the good and the bad with her presentation, and I liked that. I enjoyed reading more about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In book one, Royal Street, Hurricane Katrina roars through and decimates the city, and DJ and the gang are wading through the destruction. This time around, the hurricane is three years in the past, but the devastation is still evident practically on every street. I liked learning more about the recovery and look forward to seeing further discussion on the rebuilding in the next books.
- The characters are top notch. You have DJ who is a somewhat green Green Wizard, bad pun intended. She is continuing to grow as she learns more about her powers and abilities, and as she continues to tap into her elfin heritage. She is brave when it comes to taking on the prenaturals, but not so much when it comes to meeting her partner, Alex's family. I love that she is changing and becoming more powerful, yet I like seeing her flaws and insecurities. It also cracks me up that she enjoys Cheetos. Alex her formidable partner is ripped, ruggedly handsome and always lugging around a deadly weapon. He is extremely protective and he has everyone's best interest at heart. Jake is also back, and he is struggling with his new identity. I truly hope he can get it under control. Finally, rounding out the cast is the sexy, undead pirate Jean Lafitte. This nineteenth century pirate shows his kinder, gentler side as he tries to woo DJ. I found him to be endearing, and I especially enjoyed his attempts at understanding modern day language, slang and customs. He definitely provides the comedic relief in this book. I was also charmed by the Mer Renee and I hope he will continue to be involved in the books.
- I enjoyed the storyline more this time around. It was tighter and I liked that it centered on the water folk. You have mers and nymphs and a polluted river. I appreciated the unique and exciting story, and I was completely immersed in the mystery. I didn't have the culprit pegged.
- I love that each book wraps up neatly without cliffhangers and a passel of unanswered questions. It is always nice to read a complete story in one book. There are certainly lingering story lines to follow up in the continuing books, but nothing that leaves me frustrated. You could certainly read these books out of order or as stand alones, but I would recommend reading them in sequence to get a greater appreciation of the characters and of New Orleans recovering from Hurricane Katrina.
And The Not So Much:
- The book felt like it wrapped up rather hurriedly, and I was a bit confused over the motives of the bad guys. Especially when it came to the second party involved. It wasn't exactly spelled out as to what his intentions were and why he was helping the villain. I wanted a bit more on the reasons for the poisoning.
- The romance or lack thereof is a bit frustrating. It almost looks as if DJ is involved in a love square as she appears to have three suitors. However, this doesn't bother me so much because I believe there is only one man for her, despite the fact that they insist they are only friends. There is plenty of tension and innuendo between the two as well as some antagonism. I just know it is going to continue to build and explode into something hopefully that will be fiery hot. I am impatient and I want something now, and this time around there is a lot of ground work, but no dice. The final lines of the book were devilish in their implications.
- I mentioned this in my review of Royal Street and I am once again bringing up this criticism. I still want to know so much more about Jean Lafitte the pirate. He is a famous pirate, but I know nothing of him. I wish the author would dish on his pirating life and paint a more vivid picture of the legendary pirate. I guess I could go google him, but I feel it would enhance the book if it were included. There are a few hints and some scant details on his former life, but not enough to satiate my curiosity, especially since Jean is fast becoming one of my favorite characters.
- What was the deal with Rand? He makes a couple of brief appearances as he is supposedly dating DJ's neighbor. He is not fleshed out and I was eager to know more. I am guessing he is going to play a larger role next time out.
- I am still wanting to know more about the different types of wizards and their abilities and powers and now I need to know more about the elves.
River Road was an excellent sequel, and in fact, I think it surpassed the first book. This is a UF series with lots of exciting paranormal entities placed against the fantastic back drop of post Katrina New Orleans. If you are on the hunt for your next great UF series, I highly recommend you check out these books. I can't wait for the third book: Elysian Fields.
"Taking on Jean Lafitte as a devious, oversexed roommate? I'd sooner move in with Hannibal Lecter and a pot of fava beans."
"Why did everybody want to kiss me tonight? WEll, an undead pirate and a drunken fraternity boy. My man magnets must be on high beam."
"People jog at dawn for a reason. If they wait, their brains will wake up and convince them there are things they'd rather do. Like have oral surgery."
I won a copy of this book from a fellow blogger. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.