Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Review and Guest Post: Pirateship Down by Suzanne Johnson

Pirateship Down: Stories from the World of the Sentinels of New Orleans
by Suzanne Johnson
Series:  Sentinels of New Orleans
Pub. Date:  Nov. 9, 2015
Publisher:  Self-pub
Pages:  225
Format:  eARC
Source:  Author

My Rating:  
Sultry Scale:

From award-winning author Suzanne Johnson comes the first story collection set in the Sentinels of New Orleans world, including the all-new novella, Pirateship Down.

French pirate Jean Lafitte is tall, cobalt-eyed, broad-shouldered and immortal. What’s not to love? But New Orleans’ most esteemed member of the historical undead is headed for trouble: He’s determined to reclaim Le Diligent, his gold-laden schooner lost at sea in 1814 and recently found at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico near Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana. 

The U.S. Coast Guard might beg to differ.

New Orleans’ wizard sentinel DJ Jaco and her merman friend Rene Delachaise can either lock Lafitte up or save him from himself, joining him on a road trip to Cajun country. Terrebonne Parish—not to mention its jail—might never be the same after the events of the all-new novella Pirateship Down.

Wizards and Cajun mermen, sexy shifters and undead French pirates. Welcome to the world of the Sentinels of New Orleans in this first collection of new and revised stories, along with a little Louisiana lagniappe.

This was a fun addition to the Sentinels of New Orleans series. It includes not only several short stories and a novella from the Sentinels world, but it also has info on the characters, history of the area, some history on Jean Lafitte, and reading recommendations for those of us who would like to read more on the history of New Orleans and Southern Louisiana. Now that I live here, I am definitely going to grab some of these suggestions. This series always makes me want to go on exploring trips, and I think after reading this addition, I am going to take some day trips to Cocodrie and Grand Isle.

As for the novella, Pirateship Down, that starts just after the 50% mark of the book, so its a decent-sized story all about my abso-favo character, Jean Lafitte! He is so debonair and lovable and charming and I just want to hug him and squeeze him and keep him forever. This story takes place shortly after Jean saved DJ's life, and their relationship is growing into something new. (I am 100% Team Lafitte; I would love to see a relationship between these two.) As for the story, Jean is up to his usual antics and, knowing they can't stop him, DJ and Rene are forced to go along with his plan to minimize whatever calamity is sure to occur. As always, Suzanne's world-building, and ability to weave past and present history and legends from this area were captivating. I can't wait for the next installment of the Sentinels series.

I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

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About the Author

Suzanne Johnson writes urban fantasy and paranormal fiction from Auburn, Alabama, on top of a career in educational publishing that has thus far spanned five states and six universities—including both Alabama and Auburn, which makes her bilingual. She grew up in Winfield, Alabama, but was also a longtime resident of New Orleans, so she has a highly refined sense of the absurd and an ingrained love of SEC football, cheap Mardi Gras trinkets, and fried gator on a stick.

Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she also is the author of the best-selling Penton Legacy paranormal romance series and The Collectors romantic thriller series. Elysian Fields, book three in the Sentinels of New Orleans series, won the 2014 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence while her Sandlin-penned novel, Allegiance, is nominated for a 2015 Reviewer’s Choice Award from RT Book Reviews magazine.

Guest Blog

A Pirate Visits Cajun Country…Or Is It Creole?
by Suzanne Johnson

In PIRATESHIP DOWN, the novella that caps off the new story collection, undead early 19th-century French pirate Jean Lafitte heads west out of New Orleans toward Terrebonne Parish, which is in the heart of Louisiana’s Cajun country.

How different is the culture of Terrebonne Parish (what Louisiana calls counties) from what passes for Cajun in New Orleans? Think night and day. Well, at least night and dusk.

See, New Orleans was settled by the French. As in, people from France. Sailed directly over on ships, founded a city in the swamp along a big old river for its port potential. They lost the vast territory around it to the Spanish for a while, but then took it back a few years before finally selling it to the United States.

So New Orleans isn’t Cajun. It’s Creole, and despite what some restaurants serve up these days, they are quite different.

Creole is the term given mostly these days to the cuisine of the blend of French citizens, free people of color from the West Indies, and Spanish. The food is rich and savory, but not usually hot. That was the cultural mix that lived in New Orleans during Jean Lafitte’s time in the city. America had recently bought the territory, but the bulk of its citizens still spoke French, and the Spanish had left a huge architectural influence.

West of New Orleans, in the southern river parishes over through the vast Atchafalaya Swamp, were the Cajuns—a bastardization of the word Acadian. These are the French-Canadians driven from Canada’s maritime provinces, from what is now New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, by the British in the “Le Grand D√©rangement” of the 1750s. Refusing to sign an oath of loyalty to the British, they were expelled to other areas, but many found their way to the area west of New Orleans, in the far-western, empty stretches of swamp.

They were a tough group of survivors who scrabbled a hard living out of the inhospitable terrain into which they’d been driven. They ate what they could catch, the wild things of the swamps: gators, crawfish. They seasoned heavily. Cajun food is spicy and hot. Despite the U.S. attempt to squash it out of them, they held onto their French language, and there are still French-immersion schools in this area.

The pirate Jean Lafitte would have been well acquainted with both cultures. He moved stolen goods through Cajun country to distribute it to other parts of the Louisiana Territory, just as he undercut local merchants in the racial and cultural gumbo of New Orleans. Because he preferred to live in the wilds of Barataria, south of New Orleans, rather than in New Orleans, one would imagine Lafitte might find Terrebonne Parish a more comfortable setting than in the heart of modern New Orleans. People still live close to the land. Many still speak French as well as English (although I’m not sure a Parisian would understand the Cajun dialect).

Of course, in PIRATESHIP DOWN, Jean ends up seeing more of the Terrebonne Parish Jail than being allowed to navigate his pirogue through the swamps, and I’m not sure any of his experiences quite prepared him for that!


About five minutes passed before I heard Jean Lafitte in the hallway of the prison, having a spirited, if one-sided, argument about Spanish fruit. I definitely heard the words orange and Spaniard. And the pirate never had anything nice to say about Spaniards since he’d spent most of his human life plundering their ships.
The door opened, and he strode into the room, sending my empathic senses into overload with the force of his outrage. I closed my eyes and tried to squelch the urge to bray like a donkey, because the source of his anger was obvious.
They’d taken away the cord he used to tie back his shoulder-length, wavy black hair, but that wasn’t the problem. The problem was his fluorescent orange jumpsuit with Terrebonne Parish Prison stamped on the back. The suit was tight across his shoulders and baggy across his hips, obviously not tailored for the pirate’s athletic build, and the pants were three inches too short and flashing bare calf. He wore short white athletic socks someone had scrounged up for him. Obviously, his pirate boots had been confiscated. It wasn’t an outfit designed to please a man as arrogant and aware of his good looks as my undead pirate.
Jean shifted his commentary from his guard to me. “Drusilla, a grievance must be made against these ruffians and thieves. They have stolen my clothing and given me only this…this….” He ran out of words.
“Ugly-ass orange jumpsuit?” I offered, always ready to help Jean with his command of modern English.
“Oui, exactement. I demand that you obtain my release, tout de suite. And you must know, a woman who allows her husband to remain in such conditions for an entire evening must face reprimand.”
I leaned back in the chair and crossed my arms. “And you must know that, in this day and age, should a man reprimand his wife too much, said wife might leave her husband to enjoy a longer time in his prison cell wearing his ugly-ass orange jumpsuit.”
The guard who’d accompanied Jean into the room listened to this exchange with no expression. Now that Jean and I were both in silent mode, he leaned over to fasten the handcuffs to a ring on the center of the table, which forced the irate pirate to sit down.
“You got half an hour,” the guard said. “I’ll be right outside. If I hear or see anything through that door that I should not hear or see, visitation will be ended. That includes shouting, moving of furniture, excessive use of profanity, or sexual activity. Do you understand?”

I nodded. “Not a problem.” I had a confusion potion with Jean’s name on it in my shoe, and I wasn’t afraid to use it. 


Sentinels of New Orleans

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