Series: Sentinels of New Orleans #2
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Published by Tor on 25 June 2013
River Road is a worthy successor to Royal Street, one of my favourite novels of 2012. Things are starting to get back on track three years after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans but the effects of it are still being felt. Lots of supes are taking advantage of the barriers between Beyond and here being wiped out and a territory dispute has broken out between two rival mer-people tribes. Each claims the other is poisoning the local water and if DJ can’t figure out what is actually causing the problem, humans and supes are likely to die. DJ (Drusilla) is a Green Congress wizard – the geek contingent who are great concocting potions but not so great when it comes to magical oomph. The Elders are so conservative they appointed Alex to work alongside DJ as co-Sentinel. I guess a female geeky wizard with Elvan powers and an Elvan staff called ‘Charlie’ was too much for them to handle. DJ approaches the river’s pollution in a fairly calm, logical manner but when that fails to give her results, she breaks a huge swathe of rules and follows her gut instincts. I do feel a bit sorry for her though as Johnson keeps putting her in the middle of incredibly dangerous situations. At least she has a solid group of friends she can rely on to help her out.
DJ’s harem continues to expand so we now have Alex (the shapeshifter), his cousin Jake (the loup garou), Jean Lafitte (the ghost pirate) and possibly Rene (the merman). It takes Rene quite a while to get over his loathing of wizards and join Team DJ. Alex is still my favourite live person as no matter what DJ does, he still has her back and is even willing to bend some rules for her. I just wish it hadn’t taken Jean and Jake both asking her out for him to re-discover his interest in her. Jean shows his romantic underbelly by offering to ‘remove’ people for DJ and taking her on a swoon-worthy date. Please can we have more Jean?
I don’t really get why we have such a huge time jump between Royal Street and River Road as the characters haven’t undergone significant changes apart from Jake who is struggling to deal with his loup garou condition. Johnson gives us two mysteries to solve – two murdered wizards and the pollution. These were well executed with some well-placed red herrings. I really enjoyed watching the drama unfold and the intense climax. Johnson clearly has a great deal of affection for New Orleans and this comes through in the way she lovingly recreates it, albeit with a supernatural twist. There are lots of supes introduced in this novel but their history is fascinating and properly integrated rather than acting as an excuse for info dumping.
River Road is highly entertaining and I devoured it. Please do read Royal Street first so you can fully understand the references to past events and get the nuances of the characters’ relationships.