Fantasy Celebration: Review – Royal Street by Suzanne Johnson

Publisher: Tor
Publish Date: April 10th
How I got this book: NetGalley

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.
*Blurb from Goodreads*

I’ve long been a urban fantasy fan, and while this cover first struck me as a straight fantasy book, it definitely falls within the UF genre.

DJ is one of two wizards in the New Orleans area, and when the Hurricane Katrina comes she gets evacuated to safer lands. But when her uncle and head wizard goes missing, DJ must get back into the New Orleans area to investigate not only his disappearance, but also the influx of preternatural creatures coming from the beyond.

Then DJ gets assigned a new partner, Alex, tries to avoid her undead pirate stalker and sets up a famous dead guy as her spy. When she gets closer to solving a series of serial killings, will she find that her uncle and mentor has started working for the other team?

This is Johnson’s debut novel, and one that I thought was strong with a lot of promise. One of the things I really enjoyed about reading this book was that the authors feelings and heartbreak surrounding Hurricane Katrina and the city of New Orleans came through beautifully, but not in a nasty way. There was no pointing fingers, placing blame, instead there was a sadness for the situation as a whole, and a clear desire to move forward to regain the wonder that is New Orleans.

I thought the world building was really interesting as well. I can’t wait to find out more about the beyond and the different supernatural beings. I liked the twist on the undead, and how some famous people from history made an appearance in the book. One of my favorite characters in the book was the pirate Jean Lafitte. He was so funny and brought such a light comedic relief to the overall somber story.

One of the things that I wish would have been better explained and given more page time to was the serial killings that Alex and DJ were working on solving. It didn’t feel as if much time was spent on that aspect of the story, and once that sub-plot wrapped up, I felt as if there was something missing. While the case was eventually solved, they barely had a hand in solving it, and it was just touched on briefly toward the end of the book. I would have liked to see more work on that.

However, I thought the end did a good job of setting up the second book and continuation of the series. It’ll be interesting to see where things go with a secondary character who was turned into a loup-garou, the repercussions of a deal that DJ had to make, and what kind of impact her Fae blood will have to the series.

While the romantic in me wasn’t nearly as happy, we were given some great sexual tension between Alex and DJ. When Alex first stepped onto the page I fell hard. He is a badass enforcer with big guns and a cocky attitude. It was plain to see that he cared for DJ, and I hope that we will get the chance to see a relationship develop between these two over time.

All in all this was a strong urban fantasy debut. The world building is both fresh and exciting, the characters were fun and engaging. The city of New Orleans post-Katrina is a wonderful backdrop and I can’t wait to see what kind of adventures DJ and Alex, her stalker pirate and the rest of her rag-tag crew go on next.
I give Royal Street a B-

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Comments

  1. Lexi says

    Great review. Glad to hear that it isn’t a bunch of moaning about the fate of New Orleans. Sounds like a great new UF!

    ReplyReply

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