Series: Sentinels of New Orleans #1
Published by Tor on April 10, 2012
Genres: Adult, Romance, Urban Fantasy
Source: Blog Tour
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.
Today I am the stop on the blog tour for The Sentinels of New Orleans by Suzanne Johnson. The tour is hosted by Bewitching Book Tours and you can visit the other stops here. My stop is up a little late because I haven’t had electric since yesterday … I could definitely go for some of the MREs DJ and Alex seem to live on in ROYAL STREET!
The first in a new urban fantasy series, ROYAL STREET features a unique magic system, a delectable bad guy, and a memorable setting.
The book is set mostly post Hurricane Katrina, in a devastated New Orleans. The author eloquently describes the effects of the hurricane upon the city and its citizens, and I felt for them. The setting has one other purpose — the destruction of the city weakens the boundaries between Old and New Orleans, allowing supernatural creatures to more easily walk among the living.
Enter Drusilla Jaco, junior sentinel for New Orleans. She’s a Green Congress wizard, one of those responsible for sending the dead back where they belong. Famous figures like Jean Lafitte and Marie Laveau make appearances, Jean being the sexiest undead pirate I’ve ever read about. In the world the author created, such figures can be summoned from the Beyond, but of course they come back to wreck havoc.
The worldbuilding and magic system were my favorite parts of ROYAL STREET. Different “congresses” of wizards have different abilities. I’ll let DJ explain her speciality:
“Green Congress wizards were the geeks of the magical world, hell on rituals and potions but always last to get picked for wizard dodgeball, so to speak. I’d have to immobilize the vampire, saw off his fangs, and dissolve them in an herbal potion while muttering some obscure incantation. We had no flair (Chapter 2).”
In the author’s world, there are also vampires, fey, elves, shifters, weres, and zombies, but they didn’t make appearances. I hope more about the different factions and races shows up in future books in the series, since I want to see how they all fit in Old Orleans, New Orleans, and the Beyond. New Orleans was the perfect city to set ROYAL STREET, because it’s so rich in history and ghost stories; I felt like the city was a character in itself.
As a main character, DJ did get on my nerves a fair amount. It’s a peeve of mine when characters continually charge into danger, even when A) they know better, and B) everyone around them tells them not to. However, I could respect DJ’s desire to find out the truth about her mentor, and her need to rescue him after he disappeared. I just wish she had been a bit smarter about it.
The pacing of ROYAL STREET was slow at times, with the characters spending lots of time waiting and researching. I think it could have been a bit shorter, which would have tightened the various plotlines, which ranged from a voodoo-inspired serial killer running around New Orleans killing rescue workers to the hunt for Gerry, DJ’s mentor.
Even with the few things I’ve mentioned, ROYAL STREET was a good read. The author hooked me enough for me to want to continue the series. I think DJ will grow in the next book, because, as with all urban fantasy heroines, she discovers tons of secrets about her past throughout the course of ROYAL STREET. I’m also looking forward to seeing Alex again. Introduced at the start as DJ’s new partner and Co-Sentinel, Alex is a walking armory, big on guns and grenades instead of spells. He’s the epitome of the strong yet sensitive love interest, and though I didn’t feel the sparks between them, I could see their relationship change from the beginning to the end of the book.
About the author:
Suzanne Johnson writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance from Auburn, Alabama, after a career in educational publishing that has spanned five states and six universities. She grew up halfway between the Bear Bryant Museum and Elvis’ birthplace and lived in New Orleans for fifteen years, so she has a highly refined sense of the absurd and an ingrained love of SEC football and fried gator on a stick.