Formats available: hardcover, ebook
Series: Sentinels of New Orleans #5
Published by Tor Books on November 8th 2016
Purchasing Info: Author's Website, Publisher's Website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Bookshop.org
With the wizard-elven treaty on the verge of collapse, the preternatural world stands on the brink of war. Unless former wizard sentinel DJ Jaco manages to keep the elven leader, Quince Randolph, focused on peace and not personal matters.
With no one on the throne, Faerie is in chaos, with rival princes battling for power. The still-undead pirate, Jean Lafitte, is building his own army of misfits, and DJ—stripped of her job and hiding in the Beyond to avoid the death sentence handed down by the wizard Council of Elders—can’t get anywhere near her beloved New Orleans or her significant something-or-other, Alex.
It's time to choose sides. Friends will become enemies, enemies will become allies, and not everyone will survive. DJ and her friends will learn a hard lesson: sometimes, even the ultimate sacrifice isn’t enough.
I started this book during Worldcon in August, because someone at the Tor presentation said that Belle Chasse was the final book in the Sentinels of New Orleans series, and I just couldn’t wait to find out how it ended.
This is not a spoiler alert, because it doesn’t end. Or I sure as hell hope not. The ending of this story feels much, much more like the eye of the storm. It’s taken five books and four years to go from the literal storm of Katrina that forms so much of the background of Royal Street to the place we are now. This book is not a conclusion to much of anything. Instead, it feels like a pause before a pivot. There absolutely HAS to be more story, but based on the way that Belle Chasse concludes, what comes next is going to be different from what came before.
What we have in Belle Chasse is DJ’s world finally falling completely apart. Things have been going to hell in that handcart since the very beginning in Royal Street. Now she’s finally arrived and the situation is even worse than she first imagined.
Except for one thing. From almost the beginning of this series, DJ has always been afraid that she would find herself retreating to Jean Lafitte’s home in the Beyond at Old Barataria, and that day has finally arrived. At the beginning of the series, Lafitte was at best a frenemy. Now, he’s one of very few people that DJ absolutely trusts to have her back. And he’s the only one who lives in a place where the power of the Wizards’ Council literally does not reach. Most of their magic doesn’t work in the Beyond, and if there is one thing that an insecure wizard hates, it’s being powerless.
Unfortunately for DJ, the current Elder of the Wizards’ Council, Willem Zrakovi, is a very, very insecure wizard. And he’s decided that DJ is the cause and source of all of his insecurities. He’ll do anything, no matter how devious or underhanded, to eliminate the person who makes him feel so damn small.
And he doesn’t seem to have a care in the world that he’s going to bring down the entire world, possibly several worlds, in his misguided need to cover up his extremely vindictive inferiority.
DJ, who has an unfortunate tendency to leap before she looks, stays one step ahead at every turn, sometimes by the skin of her teeth. But when Zrakovi trumps up charges against Alex Warin, he knows that DJ will do anything to free her lover. And Zrakovi is certain, as he has been so many times before, that his power and his allies can trump any half-baked plan that DJ comes up with.
And he’s always been wrong. But never quite as wrong as he is this time. And too many people (and fae, and shapeshifters and even historical undead) are going to pay the price.
Escape Rating A: This story is non-stop action from beginning to end. It’s a very complicated story, because there are wheels within wheels. And many of those wheels were set in motion all the way back in the beginning, in Royal Street.
One of the significant things in this story is that as the world gets bigger, it also gets smaller. In the beginning, DJ is charged with keeping the preternatural community out of New Orleans. But they are already here. And once the floodgates officially open, there is more beauty and wonder introduced into the world – along with more danger and deceit. And everything affects everything else. The civil war among the fae brings freak weather to both New Orleans and Old Orleans. Each world influences all of the others, both for good and for bad.
The world gets bigger, but DJ’s circle of trust gets smaller. At the beginning, she was a Green Congress Wizard with a position as Assistant Sentinel, and later Sentinel, of New Orleans. She believed that she was part of the Wizards’ Council, and that they had her back. She had a home, and a family of choice. By the time of Belle Chasse, everything she once knew is gone. And while she still misses what she had, she keeps moving on. And she builds a new family.
One member of which is uncertain from beginning to end. Alex Warin began the series as her overbearing co-Sentinel. Their romance has been on-again, off-again throughout the series, because Alex is practically a paladin of order, and DJ is a chaos magnet. When Alex stays on the inside of the Council while DJ is in exile, there are plenty of moments where we’re not sure which side he’s really on.
As a reader, I keep getting the feeling that as much as Alex and DJ may love each other, they don’t belong together. One of them will have to change too much to make a relationship work. But I could be proven wrong. And I hope there are plenty of later books to work this out. Or not work this out, as the case may be.
The relationship between DJ and Alex does not occupy center stage in this book or in any of the series. This is urban fantasy, and DJ’s love life mostly goes to hell in that handcart along with everything else.
Instead, this is a story about the world falling apart, mostly because of a whole lot of selfish, childish and sometimes downright stupid decisions on the part of a whole lot of beings who should be taking better care of things, but are having too much fun scoring off against each other. The inter-group politics in this one are complicated and deadly.
DJ is going to be the one left picking up the pieces. And occasionally setting the pieces on fire in order to force them back into place. And it’s going to be awesome. I hope we get to read all about it in the not too distant future.
~~~~~~ TOURWIDE GIVEAWAY ~~~~~~
The giveaway for this tour is a doozy. Suzanne is giving away 1 $50 Amazon gift card and 5 $10 Amazon gift cards to lucky entrants.