Review: Royal Street by Suzanne Johnson

Suzanne Johnson is an author I haven’t read before and so it’s part of my New Authors Challenge which is hosted by the Literary Escapism blog. Check out their blog and also the challenge. I’m really enjoying all the new authors I’m reading this year!

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RoyalStreetRoyal Street (opens in Goodreads)
by Suzanne Johnson
Series: Sentinels of New Orleans, Book 1
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Published by Tor, 2012
E-book, Purchased
336 pages
Grade: B-
Synopsis: As the junior wizard sentinel for New Orleans, Drusilla Jaco’s job involves a lot more potion-mixing and pixie-retrieval than sniffing out supernatural bad guys like rogue vampires and lethal were-creatures. DJ’s boss and mentor, Gerald St. Simon, is the wizard tasked with protecting the city from anyone or anything that might slip over from the preternatural beyond.

Then Hurricane Katrina hammers New Orleans’ fragile levees, unleashing more than just dangerous flood waters.

While winds howled and Lake Pontchartrain surged, the borders between the modern city and the Otherworld crumbled. Now, the undead and the restless are roaming the Big Easy, and a serial killer with ties to voodoo is murdering the soldiers sent to help the city recover.

To make it worse, Gerry has gone missing, the wizards’ Elders have assigned a grenade-toting assassin as DJ’s new partner, and undead pirate Jean Lafitte wants to make her walk his plank. The search for Gerry and for the serial killer turns personal when DJ learns the hard way that loyalty requires sacrifice, allies come from the unlikeliest places, and duty mixed with love creates one bitter gumbo.

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I really don’t need another urban fantasy series to read, but I do like so many of them…lol.

Drusilla Jaco (aka DJ) is an apprentice wizard in New Orleans with Gerald St. Simon who is her boss, her mentor and father figure since he’s the man who raised her from about the age of 7. The book begins in August 2005 with Hurricane Katrina heading toward New Orleans. Most people in New Orleans aren’t that worried at first because hurricanes have been forecast in the past and Katrina isn’t very strong and isn’t headed directly for New Orleans. Then it strengthens, does head directly for New Orleans and a lot of people including DJ evacuate. Gerry stays because during big storms like hurricanes breaches open in the beyond and supernatural beings are able to come into the “real” world much easier.

Even though Katrina doesn’t make a direct hit, the levees break in New Orleans and much of New Orleans floods. Gerry’s house floods though at first DJ is able to see that after the flooding he’s okay on the second floor of his home. Then she hears from the elders that Gerry has disappeared and she doesn’t know if he’s alive or not. The elders send someone to help her with the many breaches in New Orleans. Alexander Warin is an enforcer for the Elders and her new partner. DJ immediately dislikes him. But they have to work together since they’re now partners. They need to protect New Orleans from supernatural characters, try to figure out if a serial killer who has voodoo ties is supernatural and also try to find if Gerry is dead or alive. It’s more than a full time job.

What worked for me:

  • The setting–New Orleans before, during and after Hurricane Katrina. I especially liked the newspaper quotes about Katrina at the beginning of chapters
  • New Orleans–another character in the book.
  • The world building–original and intriguing.
  • The characters–overall, I like DJ, Alex, Alex’s cousin, the pirate Jean Lafitte and other colorful characters who show up.

What didn’t work:

  • The book was predictable. I knew what was going to happen during much of the book.
  • DJ was irritating sometimes…jumping into situations that put her and others in danger.river-road-lores

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I liked this book enough to buy the next book! I thought the concept was very original and liked the characters. New Orleans was a wonderful setting and making it before, during and after Katrina was so good. Katrina in New Orleans was heartbreaking and to see that again was a good reminder of the suffering and also that it has come back, but smaller than before Katrina. Many people died and many who evacuated never returned.

I’m looking forward to reading River Road, book 2 and as I said above I’ve bought and downloaded it. I’m also glad Elysian Fields, book 3 was just published a couple weeks ago. Seeing a review for the third book was what made me decide to go back and pick up the first book. The blog On Starships and Dragonwings gave Elysian Fields a 4 star review. I didn’t read the whole review (since I didn’t want to spoil the first two books), but did read the very first part where Anya says this is the book where things really get moving and lots of things change so that sounds pretty good to me!

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This is my second bullet point review and I hope I walked that fine line–not telling people too much, but enough to make them decide whether they want to buy the book. Let me know what you think!