Sentinels of New Orleans #1
Publication date: 10th April 2012
My rating: 4.5 out of 5
I’m a complete sucker for a new urban fantasy series and Royal Street by Suzanne Johnson is just the kind of clever, creative and beautifully written urban fantasy that I love.
Royal Street’s setting and world building was really quite skilful and inventive. I’ve always liked and appreciated a little bit of reality mixed in with any new fictional setting and I thought Johnson really delivered this in Royal Street. Set in 2005 just as Hurricane Katrina hits New Orleans, Dursilla Jaco (DJ) is the junior wizard sentinel for New Orleans. When the hurricane devastates the city the barriers between present day New Orleans and Old Orleans (a kind of paranormal alternative otherworld) start to slip allowing the undead to cross over. When DJ’s wizard mentor Gerry who is normally responsible for protecting the New Orleans barriers also goes missing DJ is forced to work with new partner Alex, an Enforcer and FBI agent, to send the escapee supernaturals back to the otherworld whilst also trying to solve the mystery of Gerry’s disappearance.
I found Royal Street’s account of Hurricane Katrina to be really realistic yet sensitive handled, each chapter started with a snippet of news headlines which charted the progress of the hurricane and its devastating aftermath. Interwoven into this was the creation of a slightly creepy, magical otherworld of Old Orleans. The incorporation of some very famous dead people with New Orleans connections into the story was just genius. Characters such as Louis Armstrong (I loved him he was so sweet!), the pirate Jean Lafitte (I ended up loving him too, I hope we get more of him!) and the voodoo priestess Marie Laveau and seriously double creepy Baron Samedi were cleverly blended into the story and kept me absolutely glued to the pages. I ended up drawing myself a little map to keep all the characters straight in my head (that’s how engrossed I was!).
Royal Street also had the beginning of a very understated love triangle between DJ who is very much a sentinel learning on the job, and cousins Alex the enforcer, and Jake the ex-marine. Alex kind of grew on me as the story progressed but I have to say I had a real soft spot for Jake and I really hope to see more of him in the next instalment.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Royal Street and I will definitely be looking out for the sequel River Road. Highly recommended.
Thanks to Net galley and Tor books for the opportunity to read and review Royal Street before it’s publication on 10th April 2012.
Check out Mel’s fab review here, she completely convinced me to give Royal Street a go.