Royal Street is the first book in the Sentinels of New Orleans series, written by Suzanne Johnson.
This urban fantasy story was published on April 10, 2012 by Tor Books.
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.
Jen’s Review of ROYAL STREET
I read Royal Street because Misty told me she had read it and it was more my kind of book than hers. I’m glad it was available at the public library to read, because I really enjoyed the book. Later, I received a review copy of this when I was doing a tour for one of the other books in the series. I re-read it and loved it as much the second time around. Since then, I have read all the other books and short stories in this series. It’s one of my all-time favorites.
My review first appeared on my old blog booksthathook in 2015. I am updating it for this new blog.
Quick Review: Fast paced urban fantasy with a good mystery, strong worldbuilding, and likable characters
Royal Street grabbed my attention in the first few sentences. From there, I was hooked. It’s a fast-paced read that blends sexual tension, mystery, the real-life disaster of Katrina, and fantasy elements like wizardry and voodoo gods.
I don’t know if Suzanne Johnson had first experience with the devastation caused by Katrina, but it seemed like she did. I thought she did an excellent job of showing the psychological and social factors that contributed to people staying instead of evacuating. The descriptions of the damage done by the levee breaches was excellent. I also appreciated how she showed that it wasn’t just people affected by Katrina. Animals were displaced, too.
I thought it was really creative to extend the idea of breaches to the supernatural world. Katrina caused tears in the veil between the Mundane (our) world and what Johnson calls the Beyond.
I also enjoyed how Johnson took the time to describe the rituals D.J. performs to make potions, transports, etc.. It makes it seem more real.
Royal Street is such an entertaining book. There is a little humor and silliness mixed in, which is helpful given the depressing setting and circumstances. The mysteries about the ritual murders and Gerry’s disappearance also kept me glued to the pages. When it all came together, it made sense. There weren’t any loose ends. The story was wrapped up very well.
I only have two minor complaints, both of which have to do with overused tropes. One is that D.J. gives her staff a name. The other is that the book has an Alice in Wonderland reference, which is so overused that it is starting to become one of my biggest pet peeves.
I don’t think either of those things are worth taking off stars for, because I loved this book as a whole.
Do I Recommend?
I thought Royal Street was very well written and creative. I strongly recommend the Sentinels of New Orleans to readers of urban fantasy who like less romance, more mystery, and exceptional world building. If you haven’t read this series yet, I suggest you start with this book and work your way through the series. Although the author gives enough information to read each book as a standalone, you’ll gain more understanding of the relationships and world.
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars (A)
If you’ve read Royal Street, who was your favorite character? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.