Belle Chasse (Sentinels of New Orleans)
by Suzanne Johnson
Cover Artist: Cliff Nielsen
Review by Gayle Surrette
Tor Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765376992
Date: 08 November 2016 List Price $29.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
As an urban fantasy, Belle Chasse by Suzanne Johnson has it all: wizards, vampires, werewolves, fae, pirates, undead (not the usual undead), and plots, counterplots, red herrings, and doublecrosses. There's enough to keep the most jaded reader interested and engaged.
The book takes up as the party fleeing the machinations of the Interspecies Council and the First Wizard escape through a portal to Barataria and Jean Lafette's home, Maison Rouge. At this point everyone is need of rest and recuperation. The fight to escape took its toll but they need to know what's happening in New Orleans and who they can trust, who they can't, and how to get supplies.
Eugenia is pregnant and newly introduced to the preternatural world. She found out that her lover, Quince Randolf, was an elf. Rand also thinks he's married to DJ, but she insists he's not since she never married him and she's in love with Alex Warin. DJ is hiding Eugenia with Lafitte to protect her from the council and the baby's father. That's just a taste of the interpersonal relationship issues that thread themselves through the storyline.
Of prime interest is that DJ intends to clear up her problems with First Elder Willem Zrakovi who has declared her a criminal. As the head of the wizards, she's supported him and even liked him until he became first wizard. When she escaped, Alex stayed behind hoping to work from the inside to get her name cleared. In Zrakovi's mind, their escaping proves that she's guilty. He intends to use any means necessary to make her pay for her disloyalty.
Meanwhile, Christof the Faery Prince of Winter, and his brother, Florian the Faery Prince of Summer, are fighting to determine who will control the fae. The vampires have dropped to being paid mercenaries for the highest bidder. Rand is plotting to take over the council and get control of his child's mother.
There's enough going on to keep readers totally engrossed until they find themselves at the last page. Nothing is clear and any thread you see could have multiple outcomes from the possible reactions of those it touches. So, the ending will be a surprise to many.
I've been reading this series since the beginning. While some of the characters annoy me with their self-absorption, and others by their willful ability to ignore the clues in front of their faces, I still wouldn't or couldn't stop reading. Perhaps the irritation with some characters bothered me because they have become people to me, not just cardboard tropes. The writing is fast paced with few spots that slow the story down to a walk.
There's still more story to tell and I look forward to the next installment of the Sentinels of New Orleans.