Title: Royal Street (Sentinels of New Orleans #1)
Author: Suzanne Johnson
Pub. Date: April, 2012
Summary: 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.
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal
Heading into Royal Street, I was a little hesitant: Hurricane Katrina is still fresh in Americans’ minds and I was nervous to see how the author would handle using a devastated New Orleans as a backdrop.
Drusilla Jaco – DJ, thank you very much – is a wizard in the order of Green Congress and her specialty is emphatic magic. She has the ability to take on the feelings and emotions of those surrounding her. Given she’s in the heart of post-Katrina New Orleans, her ability is so not enviable.
I had read a few reviews saying Royal Street was boring. I found the opposite to be true: I was excited to read this book. The plot progressed at a wonderful pace with just enough action thrown in before the Big Fight to make me eager for more.
The characters were great. I’m normally not a reader of Paranormal/Urban series, but I do know a lot of the heroines tend to be tough-as-nails, kick-butt sort of girls. Not so in DJ’s case. She’s barely able to cast the weakest of spells before losing energy, but her faults made me enjoy her character and truly care about her. Jake and Alex, cousins and possible love-interests, were an absolute joy to read. In fact, I liked their characters so much, I’m torn on who to root for (& typically I’m not a fan of love triangles).
Alex is part-FBI, part-shapeshifter, whereas Jake is a regular ol’ human. Alex is a hulking, monosyllabic brute, while Jake is a sweet, wounded Marine. Throughout the story, they both grow and it’s so wonderful seeing more sides to their characters.
As much as I enjoyed Royal Street, it does come with a few faults of its own. I’m still a little confused about the castes. Green Congress wizards are weaker than Red, but stronger than Yellow? I truly have no idea. I do know each comes with a different set of abilities and strengths, but apart from that, not much detail was given. As with any series involving a magical system, explanations are an absolute necessity.
Royal Street is a strong debut and I’ll definitely be picking up the next book in the series. Also, any book where an undead Louis Armstrong is a spy is one worth reading.