Author: Suzanne Johnson
Series: Sentinels of New Orleans #1
Published by: Tor
Publication Date: April 10, 2012
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.
Okay, okay… honestly, I wasn’t exactly pumped to read this; I didn’t care much for the cover, and the wizard thing kind of put me off. I read a couple of positive reviews, though, and thought I’d give it a try. I can’t even tell you how glad I am that I did read Royal Street. I loved the characters, the story, and mostly the setting – the whole book was put together really well. This was just an all around really cool book.
The story is set in New Orleans and begins just days before hurricane Katrina hits. I love how the author tied the supernatural events to a real historical event that is so well known – and recent. Most chapters have a dated blurb from the news, so you get the feel of what the setting is like as the story progresses. I thought this was a great addition, because I remember a lot of the build-up and aftermaths of Katrina, so it’s kind of a weird feeling reading them. Like I said, though, Johnson did a fantastic job weaving the story in with real events, and integrating “Old Orleans” with New Orleans.
The characters were absolutely wonderful. DJ is a Green Congress wizard, which means her magic entails rituals and potions. I liked DJ a lot – she’s tough, loyal, and smart. Even though she had to struggle with some big dilemmas, she wasn’t whiny or annoyingly self-loathing. She just has the kind of personality I like. Then there is Alex, an enforcer who is assigned to assist DJ find her mentor Gerry. I have to admit, I really liked Alex. I didn’t swoon, but I’d love to hang out and have drinks with him.. and maybe play some truth or dare poker. I wouldn’t mind playing with his cousin, Jake either – now he kind of melted my heart a little. I absolutely adored the chemistry between all three of them.
There were also a couple of side characters that I really liked. Jean Lafitte, a pirate ghost, was a great one. He added something to the story that I can’t quite explain without giving too much away, but I loved to hate and hated to love him. And another ghost that made an appearance was Louis Armstrong. Yes, the one and only Louis Armstrong. His character in the book made me smile and get a little choked up – I loved it!
Seriously, I can’t think of anything I disliked about Royal Street. There are some issues that were left open, but they are obviously part of a continuing storyline for the next book. Speaking of the next book.. I can’t wait for it! This is definitely a series I am now hooked on.