Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Book Review : Royal Street By Suzanne Johnson

Synopsis: 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. . .Then Hurricane Katrina hammers New Orleans’ fragile levees, unleashing more than just dangerous flood waters. . . 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. . .DJ learns the hard way that loyalty requires sacrifice, allies come from the unlikeliest places, and duty mixed with love creates one bitter gumbo
The premise of Royal Street is what initially drew me to this novel, I was excited by the idea of an urban fantasy based on a contemporary tragic event.
In  New Orleans ( circa 2005 ) 25 year-old DJ (Drusilla Jaco) is a junior wizard sentinel who trades in wands and physical magic for good old fashion herbs, mojo bags and potions. DJ may be old school but that doesn't mean she is only cut out for menial jobs.

When Hurrican Katrina strikes, DJ makes it out but comes back to find the city she calls home has been  ravaged. Even worse, the closely guarded boundaries between the paranormal Beyond and New Orleans have been broken. Soon everything DJ has ever known begans to change.

In the midst of the chaos the Senior Sentinel, DJ's mentor, disappears. She begins a search mission while dealing with; a new gun-happy partner, supernatural beings, the They Fight Crime  trope then throw in  some historical undead and this novel is a fun ride.

Right off the bat I noticed that Hurricane Katrina is not the central plot of the novel, but  instead the hurricane's aftermath is what becomes the main obstacle in the story. New Orleans with its history of dark magic and vodoo make  the city the  perfect background for this novel. 

I was fascinated by the world Johnson created, in which the preternatural are held in a Beyond or"Old New Orleans" . Johnson has an excellent grasp of paranormal elements making this a seamless urban fantasy.

At  some points the novel  borders on World of Snark, which considering the situation seemed a bit off. I had a hard time finding a middle ground between the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina and the going ons in the novel. I've never been one for gratuitous quips and quirks, but the tone evens out towards the end of the novel.

Additionally, this novel is deeply structured in local nuances concerning New Orleans geography. This is crucial to understand, when discussing what  damage Hurricane Katrina caused and where. I felt some of the locality went over my head, but this would be fun insider information for a local reading. 

I'm really interested to see how D.J will develop throughout the series and how the relationships between the characters will develop. Yep, this novel features a little love triangle.

While this is not a  YA I think with the humor, big personalities and urban fantasy elements this novel will find itself at home with fans of Cassandra Clare's  City of Bones. Cliff Nielsen also does the cover for this one.

You can read the first three chapter with annotations and insights from the author at

The second novel in the series River Road will be released in hardcover in November 2012.

* Thanks to TOR books and Cassandra Ammerman for this finished copy !

Win 1 finished copy of Royal Street By Suzanne Johnson

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  1. The concept is fascinating. I like how the author based the book around a real event in our history. With the traditions of voodoo in New Orleans, this makes for an interesting paranormal element in the book.

    Awesome review, I'll have to check this one out sometime. And thanks for the giveaway!

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


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