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4.2 out of 5 stars
30
4.2 out of 5 stars


on 18 August 2013
Great continuation. That was my first thought when reading River Road, that it passed the book two test with flying colours. Building on the strong start of book one - Royal Street - River Road was all that and more. Using her established template, Johnson was able to now focus more on developing relationships and characterization to great effect. I loved it!

River Road also gave us a new supernatural species to explore - Mer people. I know! So cool!

Not being wizard's greatest fans (Oh, who am I kidding? Wizards don't have fans in this series!) having to work side-by-side with two warring Mer clans to solve a series of grisly murders would be a perilous venture for most people. DJ handles it with aplomb in her no nonsense, forthright manner that seems to garner respect, however begrudgingly, from everyone she meets. Using all resources available, she again proved to be the smart, competent protagonist I so enjoyed from book one, with the added bonus of using her new uber wizarding powers as provided by Charlie, her elven staff.

One thing to note for readers moving on from book one, is that there is a 3-year time jump from the end of Royal Street. I think I know why the author did this, and that it was a good idea, but it did of course create some instances of having to play catch up. Alex and DJ, for example, have gone from almost strangers to best friends. Only friends. I can't say that didn't disappoint me, but their friendship is so lovely I'm not too disheartened. And don't think I don't see that sizzle still burning in their eyes sometimes...

Just friends my eye.

Other progression on the romance front was interesting in its complex, this-can't-possibly-be-going-anywhere way. Jake is in a bad way after the the events at the end of RS, but he's still a good guy and clearly attracted to DJ. I feel for Jake I really do, I want to reach into the book and soothe him somehow. They say bad stuff happens to good people. It does and it sucks every time. Poor guy!

Jean Lafitte is another character that is transforming before my very eyes. I'm so confused about him. Should I like him this much? Is he a bad person that occasionally does good things, or a good person forced to do bad things to survive? He isn't of this era, so that affects his personality and I forgive him for his occasional trespasses into sexism, but other than that, I just kinda like him. As a pirate, you might want to dismiss him as an ignorant thief with no morals. But that's so far from the truth too. Stupid he ain't. I look forward to more of him in the next book.

The mystery and its conclusion were gripping and exciting and overall, this was just a great read. Solid writing, great character development and an engaging lead. What's not to like?

5 Stars ★★★★★
ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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on 17 June 2016
My opinion of this book was much like that of the first in the series. I enjoyed it, but found it a little on the flat side. Granted, less here than in the previous book, as there wasn't so much time dedicated to self-discover and whinging on DJ's part. But there was still a lot of wandering about, going on dates, eating, etc that slowed the pace.

Similarly, I'm still baffled about why we need three men actively pursuing her, and the introduction of two more that will likely try in the future. It's becoming a bit like a harem and I find that annoying and distracting. Especially since this isn't primarily a romance and she isn't really all that impressive.

The mystery was interesting and kept my attention, though I thought having someone die because he was enthralled to the villain was an exact repeat of book one and the motivation for the murder seemed a bit weak. Lastly, there were three unaccounted for years between the first book and this one. That's a lot of time to pass without the reader knowing what happened. Ostensibly, DJ should have grown and improved at her job in that time. In fact, that seemed the only reason to let so much time pass. But she still seemed be floundering and hanging on by the skin of her teeth and all the men in her life seemed to have just been on pause for that time because they picked up exactly where there were left at the end of the first book, three years earlier.

All in all, I liked it enough to keep reading the series (my library has the first four), but not enough to call it a new favorite or anything.
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HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERon 3 May 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
There must be lots of readers out there wondering what they'll do when the Sookie Stackhouse series draws to a close. Where are we gonna get our Deep South spookynatural kicks from in future? Well, River Road is the second in a very promising series. It's not got the bite (sorry) of the True Blood mythology, but it's certainly heading in the right direction.

River Road is more focused than its predecessor, and wisely skips over a couple of years when trainee sentinel DJ moves from being a novice to rather more experienced Green Congress magician. The plot introduces a couple of novel paranormal species and a neat mix of myth/modern world interface. Suzanne Johnson is building a credible and comprehensive, multi-layered universe - at its heart we're following the investigation of a young female empath, but there's an awful lot of interest shuffling around the shadows.
The writing is easy going and accessible; the dialogue can be snappy and entertaining; the supporting cast make more sense this time around. DJ has stopped bickering with her partner and her immortal pirate beau - but inevitably encounters new threats. As with Ms Stackhouse, DJ kinda falls for every fella she meets and they all drool over her, so there's a definite leaning towards the romantic side of things in here. The action is also nicely flavoured with the atmosphere of New and Old Orleans and the backwaters of the Atchafalaya Basin. Jazz and beignets all round...

I would have liked to explore more about the aquatic characters and their life-styles and powers. That part felt a little thin; they were basically normal people who happen to go a bit finny. And indeed, it'd be nice if the supernatural folks in future episodes are made to feel *special*. The trouble with series like these is that after a while you tend to take loup garou and ghosts and voodoo children for granted. I hope Ms Johnson can retain a sense of awe and wonder as she builds her world and peoples it with interesting creations.
A satisfying read. You probably do need to start with the first in the series, Royal Street , to get the most from this episode.
8/10
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 15 December 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Book two in the Sentinels of New Orleans series and I liked this one better than the first. Sometimes sequels don't live up to the promise in the first book but with this one I enjoyed it more.

Interesting story and DJ with her wizardy powers is back but in a welcome change from the usual Urban Fantasy read's we're introduced to the Mer=people. I don't think I've read a book with Mer-men and women before and these Mer clans add something a little different to most UF's.

The love triangle is still there, although it's more of a love square as there are so many possibilities for DJ and she can't seem to make her mind up. It frustrates me, I'll be honest. I really like Jean the pirate but the 'will she, won't she' thing with them all just gets under my skin.

It's well written and the worldbuilding makes me feel like I'm there with them all but I'm here for the mystery, thrills and paranomal adventure so I just wish the romance side of it was one thing or the other. I like my books to have romance but the partner indecision is wearing thin. The quicker DJ makes her mind up the better, if it drags on throughout the series I won't be keen to read much more into it.

Good story here though, I'd recommend it.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 5 January 2014
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Three years after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans sentinel Drusilla Jaco now has to deal with feuding mer clans. Exactly who or what is polluting water in their disputed territory?

It helps to have read "Royal Street", but is not essential. With self-deprecating wry humour, feisty Drusilla again narrates. Magic is her speciality, she often taking risks and the elvan wand (or whatever) occasionally hard to control. As ever, there is much banter with rugged co-sentinel Alex (who can shapeshift into a dog). Although supernatural matters dominate, Drusilla also agonizes over such mundane concerns as what to wear on a date. Such dates can involve undead pirate Jean Lafitte (he unashamedly lecherous), Alex's cousin Jake (able to morph into a loup-garou), Alex himself (when summoned by his Iron Lady mother).

This is enjoyable escapism, but with serious undercurrents. Movingly New Orleans still strives to put itself to rights. A disaster since inspired this second book: massive oil spill pollution of nearby marine life. Part of money raised by the novel goes towards a fund trying to restore normality.

Occasionally dragging its feet? Perhaps. There is nevertheless much to amuse and excite, Drusilla's further exploits eagerly awaited by her fans.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 2 February 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I`ve had the good fortune to read this sequel almost immediately after "River Road" so the events of that novel were fresh in my mind.

There's a fairly good sense of continuity in this second outing even though It`s set three years later; I think the time lapse was a useful device to enable the dust to settle from the previous episode and it also helps "River Road" work as a stand-alone novel; there are references to past proceedings, but nothing to prevent a newcomer from engaging with what is still a fledgling series.
Johnson adds a neat twist to the genre in this story by dealing mainly with aquatic preternaturals, which takes the series in a different direction from the standard Urban Fantasy fare; this also sufficiently neuters those direct comparisons with the Sookie Stackhouse/ Harry Dresden stories which her debut novel attracted.
This is now shaping up as an interesting and entertaining series; DJ is an engaging enough heroine and the play of personal relationships, the newly established present/beyond borders of the preternaturals and the wizard`s enforcement apparatus are all beginning to open up with this episode.
The writing is snappy and the narrative is well-paced - It`s not quite as compelling as those other series just mentioned, but it`s a good venture nevertheless - superior to a lot of efforts in this genre.

This is a pretty recommendable novel, good on it`s own, better if you've read the preceding book. I'll certainly be looking out for the next instalment.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 23 January 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This follows Royal Street and feels sharper, wittier and generally more stylish in the narrative voice. DJ (don't call her Drusilla) is a more mellow character here, slightly chastened by the events of the first book, and the toning down of her nature works well without turning into anything too wimpy.

There's much that I like about this series but, while it may sound a strange criticism, I felt that there was almost too much plot in this book: the undead pirate, the mer-people, nymphs, the ongoing shifters and wizards, the murders. There are also too many love interests for DJ: not just the customary love triangle, but a love square, perhaps even a pentagon if we include Rene - especially when it's pretty clear what her choice is going to be.

The best bits are the scenes between DJ, Jake and Alex, and Johnson could let their intriguing interrelations breathe a little more without harming the book. The scenes at the end, especially, centred on Alex/Gandalf are brilliant!

So in a sea of very similar urban fantasy books this series stands out for me for its great characters and increasingly assured writing - and with a fabulous hook at the end, I can't wait to read the next one.
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VINE VOICEon 4 May 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Drusilla Jaco (DJ) is an inexperienced wizard living in New Orleans. Working together with the shape-shifting enforcer, Alex and his loupe-garou cousin, Jake, she must settle a feud between two rival gangs of merpeople.

There was a lot to recommend this book. It is the second in a series and the characters are likable enough. It's very easy reading; perfect for the beach but not as good or as involved as urban fantasy by authors such as Ben Aaronovich. I would read another in this series but I can't help but feel that Janet Evanovich and other similar authors have mastered this style of writing and this felt like a pale comparison. If you haven't read Royal Street it might be worth reading that first so you get the full information on the background of the characters.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 26 February 2013
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This is a competent sequel and continues to develop the story of the two sentinels battling to keep the lid on the supernatural maelstrom that occurred after Hurricane Katrina. There still seems to be a tension within the relationship of DJ and Alex that isn't fully explored and explained within this book despite the fact the book is inexplicably set three years on from "Royal Street". I am beginning to warm to the depth of characterisation within the novels and the interplay between modern police procedural and fantasy that Johnson is developing with DJ's problem/mystery solving skills. Throw in warring merclans and the love of a long dead pirate and the whole thing is just bizarre enough to work and be interesting.

I look forward to the next in the series. I just hope there's going to be a little less of a time gap with the next book and we don't leap another three years into the future.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 31 May 2013
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I'm in two minds when it comes to RIVER ROAD; I love the world settings, the mystery elements, anything to do with Jean, and the fact that the main characters interact with merpeople make a nice change from the usual vamps and werewolves.

RIVER ROAD is told from DJ's pov, but this time around we get a better look into the lives of some of the secondary characters, so they feel like actual players rather then cardboard cutouts. I had a problem with the pacing in the previous book too, but am pleased to say that RIVER ROAD does not suffer from the same problem - it hits the ground running and never looks back.

***

Sadly there is a but coming... Like in the previous book I dislike the time wasted that we spend on DJ's love life - especially since it's so messed up because of her own actions and in-actions. I want to read a urban fantasy, not some supernatural soap-opera, so became bored with her seemingly endless rambles over how hot Alex, Jake and Jean are..

I've got very little sympathy for DJ in the 'romance' subplot, because I'm a very right and wrong, treat-others-as-you-want-to-be-treated person - I just ended up frustrated at her thoughtlessness and blatant selfishness, as she encourages the men and sends out mixed signals, but sulks when they look at other women. So at times I came to almost dislike DJ.

***

The tired old multiple-love-interest angle both irritates and bores me, so I kept on finding myself somewhat distanced from the story. It's a shame as this series contains all of the ingredients to be something really special, but I failed to become fully immersed in the story.

As it stands I don't think that this is a series that I'm likely to stick with, even though this book is a lot stronger then the first one. This isn't down to the author's writing style though - it is just my personal reading preferences clash with the ongoing subplots.
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