Hardcover, 332 pages
Published November 13th 2012 by Tor Books
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.
It’s anything but smooth sailing on the bayou as the Sentinels of New Orleans series continues.
I enjoyed River Road a bit better than I did its predecessor. I found the prose flowed better and the situations, as they occurred, were better planned out. The pace, too, was quick and as this genre functions primarily on the thrills it gives readers through the action scenes, this was a good thing.
I also like that Drusilla, unlike the many tough-talking badass UF protagonists out there, doesn’t know how to handle a gun. She’s a bit softer than a UF protagonist usually is and I liked how that makes her distinct. She’s not super strong but she is smart and so she has to find ways to make up for the lack of physical strength. I also like how Drusilla’s elven nature is coming to the fore and her heritage is going to be discussed possibly in the next book. I can’t wait to see how that pans out.
The descriptions of New Orleans feel authentic and the world-building is very well done. However, the characters, apart from the main two, could do with a bit more work. Three years have passed (in book time) since the events of the first book and I expected that to have a lot more bearing on the characters than it actually does. Drusilla is unchanged as are Alex and Jake. It seems weird that Alex wouldn’t have told Drusilla that she was “going out” with him and who goes out with one person for three years without the family ever meeting her? And the city isn’t that big, how has Drusilla managed not to run into Jake despite her partner living in the flat above Jake’s bar. Stuff like this detracted from my enjoyment of the book.
Additionally, there are two other things that still bother me about this novel. One is Drusilla’s many suitors. Alex is cute and I can accept that there is friction between Dru and Alex, then there is Jacob, who, okay, his presence has a lot of potential for tension and conflict and I understand his presence too but then there is Jean LaFitte. She’s nowhere like Anita Blake but three guys is pushing it.
Two, this girl is judgmental as hell. I dislike slut shaming. I don’t think a woman’s morals should be judged by her sexuality or the clothes she wears or the twist of her hips. If you feel insecure about another woman’s beauty, confidence and sexuality, the issues and the insecurities are yours. There is no problem with the other woman being as she is. Besides, the “slut” in question is a nymph so it’s her nature.
I hated that Drusilla described a nymph as a slut. And mentioned it once and again. I also disliked that Drusilla didn’t want to wear red because it was reminiscent of a brothel or she didn’t want someone’s mother’s thoughts to go that way. I also didn’t like her saying “Happy Hooker” to describe what she’s not with regards to her own sexuality. I think the author needs to have more sensitivity and a keener awareness about the messages that she may be unintentionally sending through Drusilla. I like the world and the settings. I like the mythology and I like the idea of a Beyond. However, I do not like rape culture.
I will read the next book though, with the hope that Drusilla will get more sensitive, more aware and less judgmental.