Cherie's Reviews > River Road

River Road by Suzanne  Johnson
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Dec 12, 12

Read from December 10 to 12, 2012

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.
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