“Equal parts paranormal romp and homage to NOLA, I raced down Royal Street. Not only is this book an enchanting urban fantasy debut, but it's also one of the most sensitive and honest depictions of post-Katrina NOLA I've read.” —Nicole Peeler, author of Tracking the Tempest
“Rarely has an urban fantasy so moved and entertained me on the very same page! Royal Street offers an insider's view of post-Katrina New Orleans, in all its heartache—and all its heart. A witty, resilient heroine and an irresistible cast make this a sure hit with fans of Charlaine Harris and Jim Butcher.” —Jeri Smith-Ready, award-winning author of the SHADE and WVMP RADIO series
About the Author
SUZANNE JOHNSON is a magazine editor and feature writer with more than fifty national writing and editing awards. A longtime New Orleans resident, she helped rebuild for two years after Hurricane Katrina. Royal Street was her first novel and is the first book in an urban fantasy series about the Sentinels of New Orleans, wizards who guard the storied city against preternatural dangers. As Susannah Sandlin, Suzanne is also the author of The Penton Vampire Legacy, a series of popular paranormal romances.
Suzanne Johnson writes urban fantasy from Auburn, Alabama, on top of a career in educational publishing that has thus far spanned five states and six universities (including both Alabama and Auburn, which makes her bilingual). She grew up in Winfield, Alabama, halfway between the Bear Bryant Museum and Elvis' birthplace, but was also a longtime resident of New Orleans, so she has a highly refined sense of the absurd and an ingrained love of SEC football, cheap Mardi Gras trinkets, and fried gator on a stick.
Royal Street, the first in the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series, was released in April 2010 by Tor Books; book two, River Road, comes out November 13, followed by book three, Elysian Fields, in August 2013.
This is one of the those books where I wanted to give it a higher rating, but in all honesty just couldn't. Before I even sat down to write this review I antagonized about giving it a higher rating. Then it hit me if I have to think this hard to find enough qualities to bump up the rating, that's my first sign. Even if this one of my top debuts for 2012.
The reason for my feelings is for the world building of Royal Street. Wizards exist and they police the borders of the Beyond--where wizards, elves, vampires, werewolves, famous ghosts (or undead), and even gods reside and sometimes cross over onto the human plain. It was shear brilliance that Johnson had the book take place during the events of Hurricane Katrina. It was haunting and truly heart breaking at times, and painted the most realistic picture for a fantasy novel to take place. In that alone I will always love this book.
From there everything else just goes stale. Characters who were truly fascinating--a swashbuckling-sexy-violent pirate--didn't get enough page or development time. The lead DJ is so immature throughout the book and just didn't have a strong enough voice. It was nice to have a lead female who wasn't tough as nails and taking on the world with gun and metal, but she just didn't have enough presence. The love triangle (though pretty sure it was a square) is nothing special. Alex is the enforcer that comes to town to help her out and she immediately dislikes him. Though she will admit he's hot, but she has eyes for his cousin Jake the ex-marine. It seems like every male became infatuated or lusty after DJ, who is unaware of her sexual appeal. (That got old.)
Everything else for the book was stale as well.Read more ›
Royal Street. What can I say? I loved it. Wonderful characters, a great plot and plenty of conflict. Not to mention sexy shape-shifters and pirates.
Drusilla Jaco, known as DJ, is a Green Wizard and a Sentinel in New Orleans. Her boss, Gerry gives her an assignment to capture and send the famous pirate, Jean Lafitte back to the Beyond. Lafitte threatens payback, but she sends him on his way. Then hurricane Katrina comes along, and DJ is ordered to evacuate. We all know what happens to New Orleans after Katrina - it flooded. DJ can't locate her boss, Gerry, and she's afraid he's dead, but she tries to hold on to hope that he's not. The Elder's, however, believe Gerry is hiding, and that Gerry betrayed them.
Now DJ's in charge of the New Orleans area, and her assignments are to send the dead back to the Beyond and plug all the breaches from where they came. Plus she's not giving up hunting for Gerry. Her new partner, Alex Warin is an Enforcer for the Elders, but that's not all he is - he's HOT! Alex and DJ spend a lot of time together helping each other along the way. They run into all sorts of problems such as Voodoo and National Guard killings.
I can't give too many details or I'll ruin this wonderful story for you. And take it from a reader who's been hunting for a book such as this one, I don't want to give anything away. I rarely read novels in one sitting, but I just couldn't stop reading Royal Street. I was fascinated by DJ, Jean Lafitte, her delicious partner, Alex and his sexy cousin, Jake. Oh, I forgot to mention, Louis Armstrong, he's in there too. As well as a famous restaurateur. Hurricane Katrina has a major role and Suzanne captures it well.Read more ›
With it's gorgeous cover art from Cliff Nielsen, and a sultry sounding description featuring a fledgling wizard in post Katrina New Orleans, ROYAL STREET was one of my Top 12 most anticipated releases for 2012. Unfortunately, it ended up coming in short of my expectations on just about every level. It's a little like a mix between The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher and the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris, except not as clever as the former nor as sexy as the latter.
The worldbuilding was the real strength of ROYAL STREET, with a fascinating bureaucracy of Wizards governing all the preternatural creatures worldwide and policing the beings who crossover from the Beyond (like sexy, violent pirates who sadly didn't get anywhere near enough page time), and a really intriguing idea to play off the Hurricane that devastated New Orleans in 2005. Wonderfully realistic and perhaps unknown details are woven throughout ROYAL STREET to convey a high level of authenticity to the setting that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Aside from the setting and worldbuilding, there were too many apathetic elements in ROYAL STREET to win me over. The beginning was a bit slow, and unfortunately DJ's voice rang a tad immature and a little too antagonistic (without legitimate reasons) towards the guys in her life. The plot also never really grabbed me and I had to fight the urge to skim constantly. There weren't any obvious pitfalls that I can point to, but there weren't any real high points either. Scenes and setups that could have gone in extremely fun and entertaining directions never did. For example the game of Truth or Dare between DJ, her new partner Alex, and his ex-marine cousin Jake started out promising some juicy revelations, but then just ended. It felt like a tease.Read more ›