Saturday, February 8, 2014

"Elysian Fields"

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; and book three, Elysian Fields, was released in August 2013.

Johnson applied the Page 69 Test to Elysian Fields and reported the following:
From page 69:
“Let’s get to it then,” Zrakovi said, setting his cup on the table. “We need to discuss the elves.”

I stifled a groan. Freaking elves. I hadn’t considered that being the subject of his visit.

“I haven’t been using the staff,” I said. Not much, anyway. Just a couple of small fires easily contained, and a little char on Alex’s mantel. “Do the elves still want to meet with me? Oh, and can you think of any reason an elf or faery might be living in the city and masking his species?”

I had enough elven DNA to be claimed by Mahout, the ancient staff of the Fire Elves that I’d found in Gerry’s attic after Hurricane Katrina. He hadn’t been able to use it, but it ramped up my ability to do physical magic until I was the equal of a Red Congress wizard—well, a Red Congress wizard with poor control over her powers.
It’s interesting that Page 69 fell at this point, at a meeting where Willem Zrakovi, the head of the wizarding Elders for the US and Canada, wants to discuss the elves with protagonist DJ. It’s a talky section in a book with a lot of action, but the conversation sets up key elements of the story arc for the whole series.

It is also indicative of the tone of this book, establishing it as urban fantasy and not paranormal romance. The first two books in the series drew a closer line between the two genres, but the UF storyline predominates in Elysian Fields.

When the border between our world and the preternatural world, the Beyond, fell during Hurricane Katrina’s assault on New Orleans, DJ was caught in the middle of a power struggle. At first, the voodoo god Samedi appeared to be trying to wrest control of the borders from the wizard gatekeepers, but he turned out to be a stalking horse for bigger powers as the Beyond’s major populations—the elves, vampires, and fae—tested the wizards’ mettle.

By book three, the elves are ready to make their first overt play for power against the wizards, using DJ as the pawn. This Page 69 meeting with Zrakovi establishes their desire to find out how much elven magic DJ can do and, thus, how big a threat she is to them as they consider ending their centuries-old truce with the wizards. DJ’s reference to an elf or faery masking his species also leads into a wizard-elf confrontation that accelerates the conflict.
Learn more about the book and author at Suzanne Johnson's website.

--Marshal Zeringue