Elysian Fields (Sentinel Of New Orleans #3) by Suzanne Johnson
August 13, 2013
Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “I would have done as much for anyone. It just happened to be you.”
Elysian Fields picks up a few weeks after the events in River Road. Drusilla Jaco (DJ), is still recovering from the wounds she received battling an insane nymph. When she is called to the scene of a brutal murder, she discovers that a serial killer, known as the Axeman who terrorized New Orleans back in the early 1900’s, has come back from the dead to reign hell on the mortal realm. Further investigations reveal that an unknown necromancer summoned the Axeman and he is gunning for DJ. If DJ’s life wasn’t dangerous enough, she finds herself caught in the middle of a political disaster when the Elven Synod demands access to DJ for training purposes and a freak accident occurs that could spell the end of DJ’s career… and her life.
Elysian Fields is the third book in Suzanne Johnson’s paranormal urban fantasy Sentinel Of New Orleans series. An action packed series that effectively bridges the supernatural with the mundane. Set in an alternate New Orleans, supernaturals intermingle with humans; though most humans aren’t conscious of this. The series is based on Drucilla Jaco, a junior wizard who stands as one of the sentinels charged with standing guard over the supernatural borders in New Orleans. Placed in her position through circumstance, DJ is still in the process of learning to control her powers. We recently learned of DJ’s elven heritage which is already causing her problems in the form of a magic staff that everyone wants but no one can touch until DJ’s death. The series follows her through her life as she investigates supernatural affairs and deals with the inevitable chaos that seems to mock her every step.
“ I’m a chaos junkie…”
I wasn’t impressed with the first book in this series, Royal Street. I adored the lush world building and overall premise, but the character development and revealing of the storyline was not a smooth transition. River Road more than made up for all that and I found myself engrossed in the second installment. Elysian Fields presented as a worthy follow up to River Road but failed to deliver for me. Elysian Fields places heavy emphasis back on the romance of the arc; a romance that seems to evolve sluggishly. The conflict suffers in my opinion as very interesting multiple storylines circle and intertwine, none able to fully develop or flesh out as we are stuck in a lackluster and unappealing love triangle. This was a huge mistake I felt that occurred in book one and I’m dismayed to see it happening again.
I was disappointed in this latest installment as I feel Ms. Johnson’s Sentinel series is an enjoyable urban fantasy. Humorous and suspenseful, it keeps you fully engaged. Her voice resonates throughout and I feel she is an immensely talented writer. There is a nice balance between the magic and the police procedural investigative means DJ uses to solve the mysteries. The world building continues to expand and evolve, giving us more insight into this world of magic in a modern, mortal setting. Supernatural entities coexist with humanity in a comfortable relationship.
Thought the first two installments seemed more conflict based, this installment most certainly revolves around the main character, DJ. DJ. has a lot on her plate this go around. A supernatural serial killer, her elven heritage, and a love triangle that I had hoped would resolve itself by now. Alex Warin, her former mentor and now partner, has been wth D.J. from the beginning. The sexual tension between them has burned bright for years though both of them fear the fall. Some steps are made that lead the reader to believe a choice has been made but DJ’s impetuousness puts it back into the unknown. Alex himself also has a problem with all the problems that seem to follow DJ.. His need for order and control is constantly tested by DJ.’s motto of ‘it’s better to ask for forgiveness later than permission first’ attitude.
“Did it ever occur to you to that you might want to talk to me before making a decision like that? Did it not even pass through your mind that you’re not the only one this affects? Jesus.”
This was another area that I felt failed in execution. In River Road, there was a remarkable growth and maturity to DJ’s character. In here, it’s as if she regresses. We see her once again making decisions on the fly which in turn backfire every single time. She suffers from what I call Scarlett O’Hara syndrome. She’ll think about it tomorrow. Everything will be addressed tomorrow. She does suffer a traumatic event that affects her both physically and mentally but I felt the plot element was merely placed in the book in order to being in yet another man wanting to warm DJ’s bed. Quince (Rand) Randolph. Though in a relationship with DJ’s best friend, Eugenia, his actions show a marked preference to DJ; much to her dismay. While DJ is physically attracted to Rand, (as with almost every man she meets), DJ feels there is something off with him and knows he’s not being honest with her. Certain scenes prove that later in the book and DJ learns the hard way that you should always go with your gut.
“I had never felt so violated [...] I’m never going to forgive you for this. Never.”
The main plot is an intriguing mixture of mystery, suspense, and supernatural what not but as I stated earlier, romance overshadows it and I felt we only get the bare bones of the storyline. The merging of the Axeman plot with various external factors makes for a huge OMG moment that foreshadows future problems for DJ. I’m looking forward to the exploration of that storyline. We meet quite a few interesting characters (good and evil) whose agendas will bear watching in the future. We also see quite a few old faces. DJ’s sexy and very dead admirer Jean Lafitte provides some humor and drama as DJ is forced once again to place herself in his debt. Out of all the characters, he is my favorite. His and DJ’s relationship is probably the most honest one she has. Charming, flirtatious, and occasionally smarmy, he has gradually proven himself to be a true friend that genuinely cares for DJ’s well being. Not to say he won’t use her for his own gain, but at least he’s honest in his duplicity. Their emotional bond is the strongest in this series and helps to balance the many uneasy romantic threads that wind their way through the storyline.
The ending is quite dramatic in it’s reveal. Action packed with decisions made that will reflect on DJ’s future both romantically and magically. All the loose threads are gathered and tied off, effectively solving the mystery but leaving an opening to assure us this isn’t the last we have seen of it. While I continue to enjoy Ms. Johnson’s writing, I can’t help but feel that the romance is being pushed with a heavy hand into this series and rather than elevating it, it’s slowly suffocating the overall appeal.
Overall Rating: C-