Monday, 2 April 2012

Early Review: Royal Streets

Royal Streets (Sentinels of New Orleans 1)
-          Suzanne Johnson

Publisher: Tor- Published on 10th April 2012

E-Arc Courtesy of netgalley and Tor
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.

I have a new favourite author! For a debut book, Royal Street is remarkably accomplished, managing to effortless build a fantastical setting set very much in the real world. New Orleans has long been a favourite setting for novels with a touch of magic, but this is the first time I’ve read anything set there during Hurricane Katrina and its devastating aftermath. This firmly places the whole setting in our world and the details of how New Orleans struggled to recover are heartbreaking on their own. All those deserted homes, the gradual creep of damp and yet a newspaper manages to survive the flood and is found in the front yard. The empty ruins make from a truly creepy and atmospheric novel.

In addition to this beautifully haunting background, there is a unique magical system with wizards strengths based on the type of magic they have – ritual, physical, mental. The sentinels patrol the barriers between our world and the neighbouring grey – like magical border control.  DJ was only an assistant sentinel until the man who raised her goes missing in the aftermath of Katrina and the barriers between worlds start to wobble. DJ is mostly reliant on ritual magic so she can struggle to hold her own on a physical fight, but her determination, stubbornness and ingenuity more than makes up for her physical short comings. Searching for her mentor, DJ finds herself crossing paths with a variety of different friends and foes, from gun toting enforcer, the elder council, historical pirate Jean Lafitte, a young Louis Armstrong and a voodoo god. There is so much going on, but the story never feels over complicated.

The writing has a fresh and invigorating air to it and I found myself swept up with DJ’s voice and her adventure. By the end I was really sorry to say goodbye – for now (there will be at least two more books!) and I felt like I had made a new friend. For a fun and exciting read, you can’t get much better than this!

Recommended for fans of Jaye Wells and Patricia Briggs. 8.5 out of 10

Check back tomorrow when I have the author herself, Suzanne Johnson will be dropping by!


  1. Ok Mel, you've convinced me - can I add it to my long list of books-to-borrow please???? :-)

    1. You've convinced me too! It sounds like a real treat. :)

  2. Ok I'm starting this today, you've convinced me too Mel. I'll be back tomorrow to see the interview too:)

  3. I totally agree with you, I was so surprised by this story, now I can't wait to read the second one. Amazing review!!!

  4. Cool :D I thought this was a part of a series! *headdesk* But I know better now and I am curious

  5. I've heard such great things about this book. So glad you enjoyed it as well. It's on my wishlist! I didn't know she was a debut author. Makes me even more curious.

  6. Yay! You liked it just as much as I did! ;))) It was great!