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River Road to Hell
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.