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Royal Street [Paperback]

Suzanne Johnson
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

April 10 2012

Royal Street by Suzanne Johnson is the fun, fast-paced first book in the Sentinels of New Orleans, a series of urban fantasy novels filled with wizards, mermen, and pirates.  These novels are perfect for readers of paranormal fiction and “fans of Charlaine Harris and Cat Adams” (Booklist) and RT Bookreviews agrees that “for readers missing Sookie Stackhouse, this series may be right up your alley.”

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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Review

“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.


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Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars An OK start to the series Sept. 18 2013
By Andie
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book was OK for a first book in a series not great, not horrible just OK. I'll likely read the next in the series.

The Good

- What I did like was how the author set up the world in a way that was different and unique from other books I have read. It is set up just days before Hurricane Katrina and takes us through a lot of the aftermath; DJ and her mentor Gerry are wizards that act as sentinels policing New Orleans supernatural population making sure the big bads stay in the great beyond. When Katrina hits and Gerry goes missing it's up to DJ and her new partner Alex to find him and solve a string of murders happening in New Orleans.

- Cool take on wizards and ghosts and how these supernatural work.

- The author has only introduced the audience to a fraction of the supernatural she mentions populate her world so I'm looking forward to reading and learning her take on them.

The Bad

- It's hard to truly like a story when you find the main character annoying for most of the book...That said, DJ did grow on me by the end. I think the author tried to write her as a strong opinionated woman but she ends up coming across as childish and whiny. DJ ignores good advice and offers of help from from her new partner Alex usually for no reason other than her bright ideas come to her when he is out doing errands and she doesn't think to wait for him to get home. She was also a bit hostile and rude to Alex for no real reason yet it was very obvious he thought she was wonderful and that she could do no wrong.

- The love-triangle was a bit forced.

- The story is a bit slow I found I skimmed a lot of the content to reach the good part.

- Many of the plot twists were predictable (comes from reading so many books in the genre I guess).
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  92 reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars 5 star world building, sadly average everything else . . . April 11 2012
By Shera - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
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. Events that could have turned into more exciting things (like a Truth or Dare game of cards) to the over all murder mystery. The plot was glaringly obvious from DJ's real dad, to the grand scheme of the creatures trying to break out of the Beyond. Honestly I felt bored. Every exiting turn soon became anticlimactic, even the bad guy's downfall was kind of like "That's it? Well that sucked!" (This book knocked me out of my reading high!! Now I'm stuck in a funk.)

The Hurricane Katrina setting was beyond brilliant not only giving a certain feel of reality to the tale, but showing readers a haunting glimpse into one of America's biggest natural disasters that it's seen in a long time. Besides that this book was boring and average at best. All the big plot twists might as well have had neon lights pointing them out. One redeeming fact was the humor. Laughs all around, and when I can get into the author's sense of humor that helps to keep me interested. Despite the overall underwhelming impression for the characters, plot, and emotion I'll be there for the next book. The debut had a lot of promise, I just hope the author pulls through and delivers.

Sexual Content: Lot's of pirate innuendos and hints of sexual favors. Kissing and a vague makeout session.

2/5- Average/disappointing, library check-out

Originally reviewed at Book Whispers
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Favorite New Urban Fantasy Series April 18 2012
By Dawn C. Chartier - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
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.

I'm local to the New Orleans area, and the author couldn't have done a better job on creating the suspense and raw emotions of Katrina and the after-math. Royal Street brought tears to my eyes in some scenes and I laughed my butt off in others. Suzanne Johnson is one to watch out for. I don't care if you love romance, paranormal or urban fantasy books, Royal Street has it all. A perfect blend for everyone, just like a spicy New Orleans gumbo. It's all in there.

Can't wait for the next book to be released. Thanks for a wonderful new series to read, Ms. Johnson!
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Aside from the setting and worldbuilding, there were too many apathetic elements in ROYAL STREET to win me over April 10 2012
By AJ - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
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. Similarly, DJ and Alex have to pretend to be a couple at one point (which I was hoping would lead to Alex taking advantage of the situation, or maybe DJ getting a little too caught up in her role etc.), but again, nothing really came of it. These aren't criticisms per say, but they are indicative of my overall underwhelming impression of the book.

To be clear, ROYAL STREET isn't a bad read, and there will be plenty of readers who enjoy it (see `Also Reviewed By' section below). It's just not as good as it could have been. The worldbuilding was very creative and the time period/setting was tactfully handled and perfectly suited to the urban fantasy genre. But DJ was a little too immature and lacked a strong voice, the romantic entanglements/love triangle was devoid of excitement, and the overall plot was on the staid side. Hopefully, those issues will improve in the next Sentinels of New Orleans novel titled RIVER ROAD when it's published in Fall 2012.

Sexual Content:
Kissing
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars May not finish April 22 2012
By Mary B. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I'm having trouble getting through this book. The concept sounded great, but the writing just isn't grabbing me. Mostly it's our heroine. I'm finding her to be very unlikable. She's disagreeable and dismissive - just to show she knows best - to the point of stupidity. I assume the author was trying to give her independence and depth, but it's not coming across. After paying a ridiculous $10 for this book, I'm really hoping it gets better. I liked the pirate (the one saving grace).
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining first novel from a promising author. April 13 2012
By Matthew Leo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The most important thing a fantasy novel has to do is transport you to a world of magic, whether it be Middle Earth or Hogwarts. This novel really delivers in that department. On one hand you have the very real world of New Orleans struggling in the aftermath of Katrina. On the other you have it's shadow, Old New Orleans, a timeless place that has dispensed with daylight (they go straight from dawn to dusk) and where myths and legends walk streets dimly lit by flickering gas lamps and neon signs.

I have a slightly different take on the characterization than some other reviewers here. DJ is a young woman trying to establish herself professionally, and chafes at the lack of weight her superiors assign to her opinions. But their skepticism is not entirely misplaced. DJ is intelligent, but she doesn't always think things through. She's impulsive, and lets her heart get the better of her head. This strikes me as appropriate for the twenty-five year old heroine, who has her beliefs challenged and eyes opened by the events of the story. If you prefer your heroes prudent, discreet and infallible, this might not be the story for you.

Also, there is the matter of pacing. This story must dance to Katrina's tune, and that turns out to be more of a foxtrot than a lindy hop. That's fast enough, but not breakneck fast. The payoff is that this story gains emotional color from the author's personal connection to the city's pain.

This is a first novel and it is not without its faults. A few plot twists won't quite surprise an attentive reader, and a few scenes could use a little more suspense. Probably the toughest thing for some readers will be the romance elements. This book is an urban fantasy about wizards, but it also flirts with paranormal romance. DJ is lusted after by several desirable and powerful men, something that would be unremarkable in a romance novel but might strike some fantasy readers as peculiar. That shows up right in the opening scene too. That will be a bonus for some readers, but if romance isn't your cup of tea read on for a chapter or two. This is an author with more than one arrow in her quiver.

I enjoyed this book very much, and after getting over the opening scene read it in a single sitting.
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