Review: Elysian Fields by Suzanne Johnson

Elysian Fields by Suzanne JohnsonFormat read: ebook provided by Edelweiss
Formats available: ebook, hardcover, paperback
Genre: Urban fantasy
Series: Sentinels of New Orleans, #3
Length: 386 pages
Publisher: Tor Books
Date Released: August 13, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

The mer feud has been settled, but life in South Louisiana still has more twists and turns than the muddy Mississippi.

New Orleanians are under attack from a copycat killer mimicking the crimes of a 1918 serial murderer known as the Axeman of New Orleans. Thanks to a tip from the undead pirate Jean Lafitte, DJ Jaco knows the attacks aren’t random—an unknown necromancer has resurrected the original Axeman of New Orleans, and his ultimate target is a certain blonde wizard. Namely, DJ.

Combating an undead serial killer as troubles pile up around her isn’t easy. Jake Warin’s loup-garou nature is spiraling downward, enigmatic neighbor Quince Randolph is acting weirder than ever, the Elders are insisting on lessons in elven magic from the world’s most annoying wizard, and former partner Alex Warin just turned up on DJ’s to-do list. Not to mention big maneuvers are afoot in the halls of preternatural power.

Suddenly, moving to the Beyond as Jean Lafitte’s pirate wench could be DJ’s best option.

At the publisher’s request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.

My Review:

The term “Elysian Fields” refers to a separate section of Hades reserved for gods and heroes. It’s also a street in New Orleans. (So far, all the books in Johnson’s Sentinels of New Orleans series are named for streets in New Orleans.)

The reference to Hades is particularly appropriate in this case, because a lot of the action in this story has to do with manipulating that faction known in DJ Jaco’s universe as the “historical undead”.

There’s a necromancer in town, and he’s decided to bring the Axeman of New Orleans back from the dead to bury his axe in DJ’s skull–after he cuts a wide swath through the streets and alleys of the rest of the city, of course.

This third installment of this urban fantasy series is full-to-the-brim with action, adventure, mystery, and more than a touch of on again/off again/on again romance. Some questions get answered, but more questions get asked. There is certainly no happily ever after. If anything, the stakes are raised in DJ’s personal and political relationships.

DJ is now the lone sentinel for New Orleans. She has the chance to see if she and her former co-sentinel, Alex Warin, can finally act on their mutual sizzling attraction. Naturally there are a ton of roadblocks, and not just the fact that Alex likes his universe neat, tidy and rule-abiding and DJ is a rule-breaking chaos magnet.

Royal Street by Suzanne JohnsonDJ is still trying to help Alex’ cousin Jake, who got turned into a loup-garou (read that as werewolf with an uncontrollably bad attitude, but worse) all the way back in Royal Street. Jake’s uncertain temper finally boils over and he bites her. A whole lot of the angst in the story is driven by the uncertainty of the political fallout if DJ turns furry during the full moon, since the consequences are prison or death for both her and Jake.

That necromancer who is bringing in the Axeman can probably control any of the historical undead. Including DJ’s very good friend the famous historical undead pirate Jean Lafitte. Lafitte remained a pirate because the man couldn’t stand to be controlled by anyone, including the government, when he was alive. Being dead for over two centuries hasn’t changed that. And the more we see of Lafitte, the more I wonder about how he really feels about DJ. I think she underestimates his emotional involvement. We’ll see.

Then there’s her mysterious neighbor Quince Randolph. DJ was right, he was definitely up to no good. He was up to way more no good than she thought, and she should never have let herself be alone in a room with him. Why she trusted him even that far I’ll never know. Let alone what came after.

And we have vampires. Do we ever. And because we have vampires, DJ is up to her neck in political complications–even if this time it isn’t strictly the vampires’ fault.
Blame it all on the elves. And on DJ’s propensity to leap well before she looks, a tendency guaranteed to always take her out of the frying pan and into yet another fire. Assuming that she didn’t start the fire herself.

Escape Rating A-: The Sentinels of New Orleans series is completely made of awesome. If you love urban fantasy, get Royal Street, which is not only a fantastic series start but also a heartrending story about the post-Katrina recovery (see review for details).

DJ is a chaos magnet of the first order. (If Loki or Coyote turn out to be one of her ancestors, I would not totally be surprised, but I digress). Everything she touches turns sideways. It makes her a fantastic character to follow, but probably too scary to live with.

Which leads to the love quadrangle. I think it’s a quadrangle. Jake-Alex-Quince-Jean. She started the series interested in both Jake and Alex Warin, who are cousins not brothers. She can’t get over her guilt about Jake becoming a loup-garou, basically an uncontrollable werewolf. and she and Alex have been both friends and work partners for years now. But Alex needs square corners–and DJ is a rebel. There are long-term problems that are short term covered by really hot chemistry.

River Road by Suzanne JohnsonQuince Randolph has been up to no good since he showed up in River Road (reviewed here). How much no good (it’s a ton) turns out to be a huge part of Elysian Fields. Quince is out for Quince and he’s not listening to DJ. He’s one of those smarmy bastards who is just sure he knows best. Why DJ trusted him in the same room with herself, I did not understand. Even out of expediency.

Then there is the pirate Jean Lafitte. I have a strange feeling that his, well, feelings for DJ may be more than DJ believes they are. Just because he is one of the historical undead doesn’t mean that his heart can’t sneak up on him.

But the plot of Elysian Fields has to do with magical power and the control of political power, as well as how closely intertwined those two are. Also a huge, giant, axe-wielding red herring. The political skullduggery was impressively underhanded. Also occasionally overhanded along with a couple of curveballs.

It was easy to guess who the “little bad” was, but the “bigger bad” came out of left field, particularly in the “why” department. There are clues lying around that DJ’s future is going to be very, very messy.

And that’s what makes this series so fascinating. Even though parsing out DJ’s potential love interests is entertaining (very) what keeps this reader glued to her iPad is watching the heroine grow and cope with each adventure and change and devastation that comes her way.

DJ Jaco kicks ass. Sometimes after she sets it on fire.

Elysian Fields Blog Tour

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2 thoughts on “Review: Elysian Fields by Suzanne Johnson

  1. DJ has never been interested in Rand ^^ never yes she has looked at him bit that’s all ( and as a woman she can appreciate pretty) so it was never a quadragle, not even a real triangle since jake wasn’t a serious relationship

    i did love how suzanne managed to surpeise me in Elysian fields and i want more^^

    thank you for the honest and well thougt review
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