Thursday, August 8, 2013

Elysian Fields

by Suzanne Johnson (third in her Sentinels of New Orleans series).

DJ Jaco, Green Congress wizard and Sentinel of New Orleans, has a lot on her plate. A series of murders apparently copying the crimes of the 1918 serial killer known as the Axeman turns out to be the work of the actual Axeman, back from the Beyond, and DJ hears from her other contacts among the historical undead that an unknown necromancer may be aiming the Axeman at her. Meanwhile, her friend Jake Warin's loup-garou curse, acquired when he got mixed up in Sentinel business two books ago, is spiraling out of control, to the point that he may become a danger to DJ herself. DJ's best friend's boyfriend is paying far too much attention to DJ, and getting creepier about it by the day. The Council of Elders is insisting DJ take some lessons in elven magic, and their chosen elven expert is her least favorite wizard on the Council. And to top it off, Jean Lafitte has discovered Coca-Cola, and is probably already making plans to smuggle it into the Beyond.

Suzanne Johnson's Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series is a lot of fun, especially for those of us who are a little familiar with NOLA. In this third volume, DJ's life gets a lot more complicated, partly due to circumstances beyond her control; political machinations within and between the various components of the preternatural community play a large role there, and the involvement of the Elven Synod and the Regent of the local vampires does not help make everything crystal clear.

But DJ's own actions also contribute to the mess she finds herself in by the end of the novel; her tendency to jump forward and make major decisions affecting others besides herself, with less than complete information, introduces a good deal of tension into her personal relationships, and the repercussions are going to need at least another book to play out.

The glimpses of elven society and the vampire hierarchy are both pretty interesting (even though I'm not a big fan of vampires generally), especially in the light they shed on the backstage jockeying for power on the coalescing Interspecies Council. I was also really entertained by the scenes set at the abandoned Six Flags (if only because I personally know someone who snuck in there to take a series of Slender Man photos); and I've never liked the undead Jean Lafitte (normally too smarmy for me) more than at his first taste of Coke!

I recommend this series all the time to people at the library where I work. Newcomers to the series would be well advised to start with the first book, Royal Street. But there are only three so far and they move pretty fast, so it shouldn't take long to catch up.

Elysian Fields will be released on August 13, 2013. Thanks to Tor Books and NetGalley for providing me with an advance copy!

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