Thursday, November 17, 2016

ARC Review: Belle Chasse by Suzanne Johnson

Series:     Sentinels of N.O. #5
Pub. Date:Nov. 8, 2016
Publisher:Tor Books
Length:336 pages

It's no secret that the Sentinels of New Orleans is one of my favorite series. I predict that this will be a series that I will re-read many times in the future, and I don't see myself ever getting tired of it. Suzanne Johnson's world building is fantastic and the cast of characters is so engaging and fun, particularly New Orleans favorite, the undead Jean Lafitte!

Warning!!!  This review may contain minor spoilers for previous books in the series. This series includes an ongoing story arc, so I strongly encourage you to start at the beginning with Royal Street

Belle Chasse picks up pretty much right where Pirate's Alley left off. Former sentinel and part elf, Drusilla "DJ" Jaco, has just arrived at Jean Lafitte's Maison Rouge in Old Barataria after a veritable death sentence is issued to her by the wizard elders in "real world" New Orleans. I loved that so much of this story took place at Lafitte's home on Grande Terre Island because he is my absolute favorite character of the series, and any story where he features heavily is going to keep me turning the page non-stop. So DJ and her best friend, Eugenie, are hiding out in The Beyond with the flirty french pirate (Sorry Jean, "privateer") to evade capture by both the wizards and the elves, but they quickly find themselves in the firing line between two warring faery factions. So drama abounds as DJ tries to clear her name, mediate between the elves and the elders, and avoid an all out war among all the preternatural factions.

While the relationship between shapeshifter Alex Warin and DJ has been on rocky footing lately, DJ's friendships with Rene and Jean Lafitte have grown. The relationship between Rene and DJ is one of mutual respect and care, and they are really treating one another like close and loving siblings. Jean Lafitte has always flirted and sought a relationship with DJ, and there was so much of it in this story that my hopes continue to build that we will see a romance between them at some point. I love that Jean Lafitte is protective of her, but that he also respects her ability and doesn't coddle her all the time. Even if there is never a romantic relationship between the two, I would love to see a spinoff featuring Jean Lafitte's love life. His character is just so charming that I don't ever get tired of him. DJ has added to her band of misfits and allies as the series has progressed... from undead pirates to mermen to loup garou, each character is unique and adds something special to the story.

The action in this series has always been good, and while this one was not quite as fast-paced as earlier installments, it still moved along at a steady clip and held my interest the entire time. The fiery political battle between the preternaturals that started in Pirate's Alley is still being fueled from various angles in this book, and I think we will see something explosive happen soon. DJ is continuing to grow and mature as a heroine, which is a result of the hard life lessons she has learned throughout this story arc.  I realize that I am rambling... but I want to talk about so many things in this review but they are all freaking spoilers! Things are happening with Rand and Alex and Jake and I just wanna yell - can you believe that happened??? So if you have read the book and you are having the same feelings, send me some kind of coded message in the comments! 😆

Obviously with the series name and individual book titles (named after local streets), you can tell that this story takes place in New Orleans. This is how I first found the series, I had just moved to the area and was looking for stories set in this unique city that would inspire me to get out and explore. I was hooked from the first book, Royal Street. Johnson's world-building is so layered that I can imagine myself in the exact location she describes whether its in the French Quarter, Uptown, Barataria or Grande Terre Island. I think that locals and tourists alike will find themselves drawn into the magic of the city that Johnson has embellished and capitalized on with this modern paranormal/fantasy, whether the plot is taking place in Orleans or Plaquemines Parish, or the Beyond. I always find myself highlighting places mentioned in the book so I can look for it the next time I'm in that area of town.

I voluntarily reviewed an advanced copy of this book that I received from the publisher, Tor Books. I always look forward to new installments of this series, so I do hope that Johnson plans to continue it into the foreseeable future.

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.


Sentinels of New Orleans

My ReviewMy ReviewMy ReviewMy Review