Early Review: Royal Street by Suzanne Johnson

April 3, 2012 Review 9 ★★

*This title will be released on April 10, 2012*


Royal Street (Sentinels of New Orleans #1)

Title: Royal Street
Author: Suzanne Johnson
Series: Sentinels of New Orleans #1
Cover Art: Cliff Nielsen
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Excerpt: No
Source: Publisher
Reviewed by: Abigail

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; Original edition (April 10, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 0765327791
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765327796

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery 


Sexual Content:
Kissing


Rating:

Okay – A few good points, but with significant flaws. Library/swap/borrow if you want.


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 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.

Review

With it’s gorgeous cover art from Cliff Nielsen, and a sultry sounding description featuring a fledgling wizard in post Katrina New Orleans, ROYAL STREET was one of my Top 12 most anticipated releases for 2012.  Unfortunately, it ended up coming in short of my expectations on just about every level.  It’s a little like a mix between The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher and the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris, except not as clever as the former nor as sexy as the latter.

The worldbuilding was the real strength of ROYAL STREET, with a fascinating bureaucracy of Wizards governing all the preternatural creatures worldwide and policing the beings who crossover from the Beyond (like sexy, violent pirates who sadly didn’t get anywhere near enough page time), and a really intriguing idea to play off the Hurricane that devastated New Orleans in 2005. Wonderfully realistic and perhaps unknown details are woven throughout ROYAL STREET to convey a high level of authenticity to the setting that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Aside from the setting and worldbuilding, there were too many apathetic elements in ROYAL STREET to win me over.  The beginning was a bit slow, and unfortunately DJ’s voice rang a tad immature and a little too antagonistic (without legitimate reasons) towards the guys in her life. The plot also never really grabbed me and I had to fight the urge to skim constantly. There weren’t any obvious pitfalls that I can point to, but there weren’t any real highpoints either. Scenes and setups that could have gone in extremely fun and entertaining directions never did.  For example the game of Truth or Dare between DJ, her new partner Alex, and his ex-marine cousin Jake started out promising some juicy revelations, but then just ended.  It felt like a tease.  Similarly, DJ and Alex have to pretend to be a couple at one point (which I was hoping would lead to Alex taking advantage of the situation, or maybe DJ getting a little too caught up in her role etc.), but again, nothing really came of it.  These aren’t criticisms per say, but they are indicative of my overall underwhelming impression of the book.

To be clear, ROYAL STREET isn’t a bad read, and there will be plenty of readers who enjoy it (see ‘Also Reviewed By’ section below).  It’s just not as good as it could have been.  The worldbuilding was very creative and the time period/setting was tactfully handled and perfectly suited to the urban fantasy genre.  But DJ was a little too immature and lacked a strong voice, the romantic entanglements/love triangle was devoid of excitement, and the overall plot was on the staid side.  Hopefully, those issues will improve in the next Sentinels of New Orleans novel titled RIVER ROAD when it’s published in Fall 2012.

Books in Series
Also Reviewed By
Similar Titles
  • N/A
  • The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher
  • Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris

9 Responses to “Early Review: Royal Street by Suzanne Johnson”

  1. sara

    Noooo! I was contemplating buying this one ever since I heard there were pirates in it. Thanks for the heads up, I'll wait for the library. I hate prickly heroines who have no reason to be prickly. The tension that results from that character flaw is always a let down, IMO.

    This just feeds into my conspiracy theory that publishers care less and less about plot and are buying books just because they have a unique voice. I miss good, smart plots and genuinely likeable & intelligent characters :(

  2. Abigail

    I was so excited about this one too. I kept hoping something would change and the book would come to life for me, but I'm sorry to say it never did. Really disappointing.

  3. Julia

    I think I'll wait to library this one, too. Life is too short for unlikeable (or boring) characters.

  4. Abigail

    That's great. I'll keep an eye out for your review to see your ultimate thoughts once you finish.

  5. Abigail

    Knowing your taste, that's probably a good idea, though I can see you appreciating this one more than I did (a la WORKING STIFF)

  6. Julia

    Hey, I loved Bryn! Oh, I see what you did here… Ok, I'll bump this up on my list.