Royal Street Paperback – Apr 10 2012
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“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.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
- 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.
- 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).
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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
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.
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!
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.
Her job is to take care of minor preternatural problems around the city, but DJ is chomping at the bit to gain more responsibility as a wizard and more serious jobs. She is tired of doing all the dirty work and when she finally gains a chance, she rocks it. Historical undead pirate, Jean Lafitte, wants to make a deal. DJ meets with him under the pretense of making said deal, only to betray him and use her wizardly powers to send him back to the "Beyond" - a place where the naughty preternaturals of the world must stay. The historical undead can't be killed, though, and Jean Lafitte swears revenge against DJ upon his next return to the here & now.
Hurricane Katrina changes everything. The hurricane blows through New Orleans, forcing DJ to evacuate while Gerry stays behind to watch over things. The storm is bound to tear holes between the present and the Beyond, thus allowing all sorts of undesirables to escape and wreak havoc on the city in turmoil. While DJ is at her grandmother's home in Alabama, she gets a call from the Elder wizards. Gerry has gone missing, and she is ordered to get back to New Orleans immediately.
When DJ arrives home, she finds a very angry Jean Lafitte in her (luckily) undamaged home. After a short bout of fighting, an unexpected, yet drool-worthy visitor shows up to save the day... and that's when the fun really begins.
- - -
This book was oodles of fun!
Complaints first. I don't have many! It was a little slow-moving, and I wasn't a huge fan of the ending. I won't give deets on that since it'll be spoilery, but the ending was less than fantastic. Minor detail considering the fact that I loved the rest of the book so much, though.
DJ is an engaging and hilarious character. I loved being inside her head! She is full of charm, wit and magic. Her empathy plays a huge part in her life. She uses it to her advantage most often, but other times has to stamp it down hard - like when sexy pirate Jean Lafitte unleashes his lusty feelings on her. ;) It was an interesting twist to bring to the heroine's personality. I enjoyed her very much.
I also enjoyed Alex, Jake, and their little rivalry over DJ. All of the historical figures were really interesting and were woven into the plot quite nicely. Jean Lafitte, Marie Laveau, Louis Armstrong... loads of fun!
The author portrayed the devastation of hurricanes very well. I didn't go through Katrina, personally, but I am a born and bred Floridian - so I have seen and been through my fair share of hurricanes. They are terribly devastating and I can only imagine what Katrina was like. Reading this novel brought a sort of new light to the subject. I understood how the people of New Orleans must have felt after the tragedy. Katrina plays a huge part in this story. I don't consider it to be done in bad taste. Many historically devastating events play huge parts in fiction, so why shouldn't this one?
The magic, wizardry, and preternatural elements were all fleshed out pretty well. It was a whole new world and I found it all quite unique. I want to see some of the other wizard's abilities later on in the series (hopefully!), as well as some more of DJ's abilities. She ends up being a very powerful woman and I know there is a lot more to her background than we were shown in this debut. There are a lot of open doors; lots of directions for the author to take. I think Ms. Johnson left things open in a nice way. There was some closure, but enough loose ends were left untied for the possibility of a fantastic sophomore novel.
Overall - A staggering debut! You've got pirates, sexy shapeshifters, voodoo gods, murder, mayhem, wizards, magic, action, suspense, romance, and a whole lot of humor. Royal Street has something for everyone. It's a journey of self-discovery. It's full of interesting and wonderful characters. There are secrets and plot twists galore, and it's all told in a charming and humorous voice. Royal Street is a wonderful urban fantasy for any fan of the genre. You definitely want to give this one a shot. I, for one, can't wait for more!