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Royal Street Paperback – Apr 10 2012


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Amazon.ca First Novel Award - 6 Canadian Novels Make the Shortlist



Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books (April 10 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765327791
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765327796
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 2.3 x 19.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 249 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #336,650 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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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By Andie on Sept. 18 2013
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: 98 reviews
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
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
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
My Favorite New Urban Fantasy Series April 18 2012
By Paranormal Chic - 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!
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
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
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.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Flawed, but entertaining debut with lots of potential Aug. 31 2012
By BastardBooks - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I've always been fascinated with the idea of fantasy stories including natural disasters as part of the narrative. Not the usual "storm is coming, I feel something terrible is about to happen" kind of event, but just a random tornado suddenly touching down in the middle of a scene, or maybe a hurricane comes to destroy a town and be just that, a natural storm without all the added plot-device baggage. It was with that in mind that I got interested in Royal Street by Suzanne Johnson with a story that takes place during the time of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. It's the first of the Sentinels of New Orleans series, and laid the foundation of what could become a very entertaining series.

DJ, a deputy sentinel, is a wizard apprentice under the guidance of Gerry the acting New Orleans sentinel. They protect the city from preternatural beings that have crossed over to our world. As Hurricane Katrina hits, Gerry goes missing. DJ, who had evacuated the city, is tasked to return to the city to find her missing teacher while partnering up with an FBI agent, who may have his own agenda and may have been sent to spy on her by organization that governs them. Once arrived in New Orleans they have to deal with the disastrous aftermath of the hurricane and a serial killer who's on the loose. If that wasn't enough, Katrina has weakened the boundaries between the planes that keep the preternatural beings at bay.

Tackling an event like Hurricane Katrina is tricky. There's no easy way to approach it. Some consideration has to be given to those that have suffered, and at the same time try to not let it distract from the focus of the story you want to tell. With that in mind, it was evident that Johnson struggled to balance the inclusion of the happenings of what it was like during the time of Katrina with developing the mystery/thriller portions of the plot. I personally found it interesting to relive some of what went on during the hurricane through DJ's eyes. I also thought it was handled with tact and was informative, but not overwhelmingly so. Suzanne Johnson had apparently lived in New Orleans for many years, so there's a personal touch to be found here to put everything into proper context.

The pacing was slow though, but I didn't find it dull by any measure. I can see were many would have problem with it, but I didn't think it a major problem; but it was a problem. Kinda of a double edged sword because you want the Katrina exposure, but at times it impeded the momentum of the story. By the same token, I enjoyed the tangents through much of it. I found DJ to be a fun and quite even-keeled narrator, which is interesting considering she's an empath. She never gets too high or too low through the narration and it served the balance between the events of Katrina and the rest of the story well; and when she goes to emotional extremes, they don't last long, which I loved. There's plenty of funny scenes throughout the novel to contrast the somber moments.

I found the biggest problem with the novel was the mystery plot aspects. Though it kept us guessing about certain things through out the it, I thought everything became transparent earlier than I would've liked. Not that big of an issue at the moment, but I thought there was a detachment from the case through the novel that made me not care about many of the events surrounding the story. Particularly evident with the serial killer victims, didn't care for them. We weren't really immersed in the investigation, we weren't made to care for the victims, as such the investigation wasn't of much interest. What held the story together was the wondering of what happened to Gerry and DJ's personal issues she's to overcome.

The story had some good action though. I would've liked to see just a bit more of it and maybe a few more scenes that would've made the novel a bit more suspenseful with a heightened sense of danger, but other than that quite pleased with what Johnson provided. I really think DJ will become one kickass character as the series continues, but we'll see how she keeps developing her powers.

The world-building was excellent, and it's mainly what has me thinking this is a very promising series. She has also injected into the story a preternatural being called "historical undead" which have been quite lively so far, and insures that we'll be exposed to plenty of flavorful characters as the series continues. There's mention of all the usual supernatural beings too, but they haven't made an appearance yet for the most part. In many regards it reminds me of The Dresden Files world now that I think of it, differentiated with the unique touches Johnson has given it; combining all these with the rich history of New Orleans and how well it's been incorporated to the aftermath of Katrina is a great start.

Royal Street introduced us to some good characters that will be entertaining and pleasant to follow. Character interaction was good and fun through much of it. As mentioned previously, never gets too high or low emotionally for an extensive span of time. Was worried about this in particular with DJ being an empath, since it had the potential to become a bit too touchy-feely for me, but Suzanne Johnson handled much of it to my liking. There's some romantic interests here, more than one actually, but it's been kept light so far and it hasn't bother me. We'll see how much of the focus it'll have going forward, but not too worried at the moment with the current precedent.

I really enjoyed DJ as the narrator and as a character. At times a bit too impulsive, which is all right. She recognizes it as a flaw herself, so it's all good. Makes her a bit unpredictable. Even though at times she tries to rationalize some of her actions as prudent. Going forward I think she needs to be cleaned up a bit because she's clearly not an idiot, but has plenty of dumbass moments. One in particularly grated on me. DJ warded her house and as means to disable it used a word that would be the equivalent of using "password" as the password for your email account. Sorry if I indirectly called some of you a dumbass, but probably well deserved. In all, despite this I think she'll be a good character to follow.

All this to say that yes, Royal Street is very much a flawed novel, but I think it's one that's very much worth the read. I enjoyed it thoroughly flaws an all. I'll recommend it with little hesitation to all urban fantasy fans, and this being Suzanne's debut, I'd imagine we can expect things to get better from here. The foundation for the series is now in place, and it's a strong one. Early reactions to the sequel River Road have been positive and seem to agree that it's better than the precursory novel. Suzanne Johnson may just have winner in her hands with the Sentinels of New Orleans series.


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