Royal Street

Royal Street

Book rating: 03 Paperback

By (author) Suzanne Johnson

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  • Publisher: Tor Books
  • Format: Paperback | 336 pages
  • Dimensions: 137mm x 208mm x 30mm | 249g
  • Publication date: 14 May 2012
  • Publication City/Country: New York, NY
  • ISBN 10: 0765327791
  • ISBN 13: 9780765327796
  • Sales rank: 246,866

Product description

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 soldiers sent to help the city recover. To make it worse, Gerald St. Simon 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 the 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.

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Author information

SUZANNE JOHNSON is a magazine editor and feature writer with more than fifty national writing and editing awards. A longtime New Orleans resident, she helped rebuild for two years after Hurricane Katrina. "Royal Street" was her first novel and is the first book in an urban fantasy series about the Sentinels of New Orleans, wizards who guard the storied city against preternatural dangers. As Susannah Sandlin, Suzanne is also the author of The Penton Vampire Legacy, a series of popular paranormal romances.

Customer reviews

By frisch 14 Oct 2012 4

First, if I want to be impartial I have to admit that it's not overly, completely original. We are finding the big lines of the Urban fantasy genre and some allusions to other series too ( walking staff anybody? Staff with his own mind? Yes you got it! There is a walking, sentient staff in the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs one author that Suzanne Johnson loves and admires- no it's not exactly the same at all)
Now that's quite normal too, when you write in a genre you have to keep the standards of it and such but what will make the difference is how it's writing and the story in itself.


On that side, Suzanne Johnson did really well. She put the story in a city she knows well and more important one she loves very much and you can feel this love when reading. Also she used a real event for the starting point; the story starts and develops in parallel to the Katrina hurricane and its consequences. We get the feeling of the population and it gives us another point of view about this events. I particularly loved the small excerpt of newspapers above several chapters that gave me more complete understanding of the events. Living in Europe of course we learned about the hurricane and saw the disaster in the news days after days but for example we weren't told another tempest came shortly after and I can understand the feeling of despair of people who had already been truck once and had to see that coming once again. I really admire they courage and persistence in rebuilding. The author managed to make us feel part of this drama and feel compassion and respect for theses survivors.


That gives a special elements to the story and the fact it takes place in New Orleans a city with such a rich history, really well introduced in the plot, just make it more believable. If there is some magic somewhere in the States it would be there it makes sense.


The characters are well constructed, but still mysterious. We have learned a bit more about DJ's past but we don't know all the consequences yet. Alex we have learned about his family but just got a glimpse of his past and there are so many questions about Gerry like how it happened, when etc. Then they are all the historical figures, I really loved those and learning about their history it's a great asset for this universe. The characters still having so many secrets it's really promising for the rest of the series because I want to learn more as well as the other readers I'm sure. After all, we will see more of Jean and that will be fun.


I've spent an excellent time reading this book even if the ending give us more questions than closure it did not bother me like other books, in a way it even seems normal and I really want to see how the relationship between the characters will evolve. There are some fun parts but few and it's normal: we meet with DJ when she is living a dark time after all but we can hope for more fun in the future and a lot of potions surprise in bonus ( who knows^^).
Second book River Road comes out in November and I can't wait

By Andrea Thompson 20 Apr 2012 4

Set in New Orleans in the days preceding Hurricane Katrina, and the tumultuous weeks after, ROYAL STREET is the story of Drusilla "DJ" Jaco. DJ, a Green Congress wizard, is charged with helping to protect modern day New Orleans from the Beyond. What lies in the Beyond? Vampires, Weres, Elves, the Historical Undead...All who are itching to cross over. When Hurricane Katrina forces a breach in the borders, and DJ's mentor, Gerry goes missing, she'll find out is she's ready to take on the preternatural bad boys, or die trying.

Oh, how I love a great Urban Fantasy. I'm always amazed when an author can create a world all his/her own. Suzanne Johnson is no exception. And though I thoroughly enjoyed many elements of ROYAL STREET, I have to give major props for the world-building. Johnson's brand of wizard was well developed, interesting and not terribly complicated. Hurricane Katrina was a horrible time for Louisiana, especially the New Orleans area. But to take such devastation and create a series around it's havoc was brilliant. New Orleans is an easy pick, with it's rich, decadent heritage. And it is hip deep in the "historical dead", my new favorite type of supernatural being.

For example, Jean Lafitte, a historically famous pirate. ROYAL STREET opens with DJ and Jean facing off in the bayou. He's a freaking riot, maybe my favorite character in the book. He's handsome, possesses a wicked charm, and is dead sexy. Even though he would probably feed DJ to the gators if it served him well, I couldn't help but smile every time that bad boy showed back up. The fact that I'm gushing over Jean instead of the main character should tell you how much I liked him.

Speaking of main characters, I really liked DJ. Her dialogue, verbal but especially internal, was funny, a tad snarky, and sincere. DJ's a tough, brave chick. She does tend to let her heart rule her head, sometimes a bit too much, but I have to admire a girl with so much loyalty and courage. There were a few times I wanted her to take a beat and thinks things through a bit more. But who wants a completely perfect, obedient heroine? Boring!

DJ has a hot, slightly brooding, more than capable partner in Alex Warin. Sa-woon. I mean, sure, Alex is a bit on the quiet side, and yeah, he's a tad secretive. But when he begins to open up...I don't know how DJ can stand staying in the "Just Partners Zone". Alex's cousin, Jake, though, offers a nice alternative. Jake is open, funny, and sexy as heck. Better yet, he's not DJ's partner. The chemistry between DJ/Alex and DJ/Jake was perfect. And even though it never turned into a true triangle, you can just see an emotional storm brewing on the horizon. Either way, DJ can't possibly make a wrong choice.

As much as I enjoyed ROYAL STREET, I did get into a bit of a lull throughout the middle portion of the story. There was lots of talking and plan making about finding Gerry and protecting the wards, but not a lot of actual action going on. It felt like a long, slow build-up to the big confrontation. But once we got there? Wow. What a great, action and emotionally-packed ending. I had no idea what would happen. Johnson ended the story with some resolution, and a super set-up for book two in the series, RIVER ROAD, due out in November. I've already added it to my to-read list.


Favorite Quote:

" ' I know you think I'm hot.' Then the grin faded. 'Of course, you think Jake's hot, too, and Jean Lafitte, who's not even alive. You're really screwed up, you know that?' " (pg. 167)

By Shelley Cusbert 12 Apr 2012 3

Royal Street is an enjoyable urban fantasy series debut from Suzanne Johnson. The devastation of Hurricane Katrina has caused breaches in the border between this world and the Beyond and Drusilla Jaco, a Green Wizard, is charged with banishing the undead back to the ether. DJ though is distracted by her missing mentor, Gerry, who is suspected of betraying the Elder Wizard Council, an undead pirate seeking revenge and the Enforcer, Alex. With a voodoo God and a serial killer on the loose the new Sentinel of New Orleans has her hands full.

What I particularly like about Royal Street is the world building. Set in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, Johnson sensitively incorporates the tragedy into her story. The devastation makes an interesting background throwing up natural obstacles like a lack of electricity and transport which her protagonists have to work around.
New Orleans history is rich with iconic characters which Johnson works in to the story including voodoo gods, pirates and even musicians. While there is mention of vampires, fae and werewolves it is the historical undead that feature in Royal Street. Known in general as Pretes, the otherworldly beings reside in the Beyond in 'Old Orleans', a historical alternative to the modern city.
The magic system of Royal Street focuses on wizardry with a system that is headed by the Elders and then tiers of wizards with different abilities. As a Green Wizard, DJ is only able to wield potions, spells and charms, Red Wizards have mastery over physical magic while Yellow Wizards have psychic abilities. Enforcers are the muscle for the council dispensing justice where necessary.
Unfortunately Royal Street was let down by the protagonists of the story, especially DJ who lacks the smarts I prefer in my urban fantasy genre. There are too many instances where she makes poor decisions, ignores obvious clues or acts so slowly as to put herself or others in danger. This is particularly true at the climax when she inexplicably fails to act to prevent injury to her allies. The romantic element of Royal Street includes Alex, the Enforcer sent to assist DJ, Alex's cousin Jake, a war vet, and the pirate, Jean Lafitte. DJ is attracted to all three men but I didn't like the way in which she seemed to be toying with Alex and Jake in particular. The relationships are another example of DJ's immaturity.

While I think the characters of Royal Street need to be stronger, I did enjoy the book. There are often teething problems for a new series and ultimately I think the original aspects of the world building and potential of the story outweigh the flaws. Royal Street is a promising debut and I will be interested to see where Johnson takes it.

Review quote

"Equal parts paranormal romp and homage to NOLA, I raced down "Royal Street". Not only is this book an enchanting urban fantasy debut, but it's also one of the most sensitive and honest depictions of post-Katrina NOLA I've read."--Nicole Peeler, author of "Tracking the Tempest""Rarely has an urban fantasy so moved and entertained me on the very same page! "Royal Street" offers an insider's view of post-Katrina New Orleans, in all its heartache--and all its heart. A witty, resilient heroine and an irresistible cast make this a sure hit with fans of Charlaine Harris and Jim Butcher."--Jeri Smith-Ready, award-winning author of the SHADE and WVMP RADIO series