ARC REVIEW – Elysian Fields by Suzanne Johnson

August 25, 2013 4 Star Reviews, General, Reviews 6 ★★★★½

**I received this book for free from the publisher or author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**

ARC REVIEW – Elysian Fields by Suzanne JohnsonElysian Fields by Suzanne Johnson
Series: Sentinels of New Orleans #3
Published by Tor Books on August 13, 2013
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: Netgalley
An undead serial killer comes for DJ in this thrilling third installment of Suzanne Johnson’s Sentinels of New Orleans series

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.

Combatting 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.


This was a book I really wanted to read.  I enjoyed ROYAL STREET, the first book in the Sentinels series, and I raved about RIVER ROAD, its follow-up.  Over the course of two books I came to love the awkward DJ, with her act first and think later attitude, her jumbled love life, her potion mixing magic, and powerful elven staff that she’s just beginning to understand. What I liked most was that of all the UF heroines I’ve read, DJ was someone who seemed normal.  She’s geeky, not physically powerful, eats junk, sits on her butt and watches TV, knows when it’s time to run rather than fight, and is stronger with potions and spell books than swords and guns.  DJ is a different kind of UF heroine and I was eager to see how author Suzanne Johnson would continue to develop and grow DJ as a character.  I can say without hesitation that ELYSIAN FIELDS, the third book in Johnson’s Sentinels of New Orleans series, was a fantastic read.


“I pulled a chunk of flesh out of my hair and turned my back so I could dry heave in semi-privacy.  I might have to go vegan.”


The plot of ELYSIAN FIELDS was exciting and, at times, a little scary.  DJ discovers that a series of murders the media suspects are being committed by a copycat are actually being committed by a serial killer from the 1900’s known as the Axeman.  The Axeman is one of the historical undead, one of the many famous dead people who are kept immortal through the strength and magic of collective human memory.  DJ must stop the Axeman and banish him to the Beyond before he claims another victim.  But she soon becomes one of his targets and it’s a fight for her life to stop him while also trying to identify the mastermind behind the Axeman’s murderous rampages.  The mystery/murder plot line was well done. The Axeman could appear at random, ratcheting up the tension for both the reader and DJ.  The action scenes were fantastically written, keeping me both anxious and tense.  The mystery of who was controlling the Axeman was also tight.  I thought I had it figured out pretty quickly but realized at the end I only got half the story right. 


The world Johnson created in the Sentinel series slowly expands from here.  We get a taste of vampires and more wizard bureaucracy.  The mystery of Rand is finally revealed and, through his identity, we are privy to politics and power struggles that show just how precarious the balance of power is in the preternatural world.  I’m digging the pace at which Johnson is opening this world up.  Each book has introduced us to a new preternatural community, first the historical undead and wizards, then mermen, and, now, the elves.  And these are not the fairy kind.  They are scary and powerful and fragmented.  By the end of ELYSIAN FIELDS, DJ has her feet firmly planted in elven drama and I think it’s going to be an exciting road to travel with her. 


The gem of this book is DJ.  I like her as a character.  There’s something normal about her and I completely identify with her awkward nature.  And I love the fact that I can say I identify with a wizard.  Johnson puts DJ through an emotional rollercoaster and what stands out for me is just how deep those emotions run.  I feel like we got to know DJ on another level – her anguish over her childhood, the death of her father and friend, her fragile friendship with her best friend, the uncertainty and instability of her romantic relationships, a life altering change that has the clock ticking for her and the tensions running high…my heart went out to DJ.  Johnson did a wonderful job of letting us peer into her heroine’s psyche and she does so in a very heart-rending way. By the end of it, relationships have changed and moved to new levels and DJ herself has revelations about her relationships that show a growing maturity and ability to accept responsibility.


“Shifters and weres, most of us like things straight and simple.  And nothing personal, babe, but you ain’t either one.” 


The area where things got disappointing for me was in the romance department.  Without giving too much away, DJ has a choice to make and she makes it.  As a fan of this series, I gave her a mental hi-five and was happy to settle into being a third-wheel to a relationship in the making. But then we start to get some pulling back, some fear, some criticisms of things that were always there and probably never going to change and I started to get annoyed.  DJ’s life is crazy so either fish or cut bait!  I’m holding my breath that the romance in this series doesn’t turn into a long, tortured coming together. 


If you’re a fan of the series, ELYSIAN FIELDS is a must read.  If you haven’t started the Sentinels of New Orleans, please do.  The New Orleans atmosphere, strong heroine and original worldbuilding are so worth it.  4.5 HOWLS!


About Suzanne Johnson

Suzanne Johnson is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series from Tor Books. Royal Street, book one, came out in April 2012; River Road in November 2012. Book three, Elysian Fields, will be released on August 13, 2013.

A longtime New Orleans resident, Suzanne is a veteran journalist with more than fifty national awards in writing and editing nonfiction for higher education, including the Robert S. Sibley Award for the best university magazine in the U.S. and Canada, for the Rice University Sallyport.

Suzanne is an active member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, and is a member of the Georgia, Southern Magic, and Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal chapters of RWA.

6 Responses to “ARC REVIEW – Elysian Fields by Suzanne Johnson”

  1. Eva Millien

    Thanks for sharing your review . I love this series and I am looking forward to reading this one.

    • shewolfreads

      Eva, I really liked it. Honestly, DJ is just a lot of fun to follow around and the world is just so original. Let me know what you think of it!

  2. miki

    thank you a lot for this wonderfully written review ^^. i too love getting to learn more about a new species in each book ^^ book 4 would be for teh vampires i guess ( but i want more jean first^^)

    • shewolfreads

      Yes! Vampires next! Jean Lafitte looks better and better in every book!

  3. braine

    I read Bk 1 midway and for the life of me I don’t remember why I never got to finish it! Ha! Obviously I missed out here.

    Excited to see you’re reading Hot Blooded but personally I like the first one better, cant wait for Cold Blooded to go up on NG!

    P.S. I got The Hallowed Ones, so excited to read it hanks to your rec