Thursday, June 14, 2012

Royal Street.

Title/Author: Royal Street by Suzanne Johnson

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Supernatural.

Publisher: Tor.

Source: Purchased.

Favorite character: DJ.

All in all: Clever, unique, funny and detailed.

Synopsis: 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.

My Thoughts: Royal Street first came to my attention when I saw it reviewed on Good Choice Reading's blog and from the great write up I knew I had to read it. First of all, it took place in New Orleans (which I love, love, love). Second of all...well there is really no second of all, except that it is Urban Fantasy. You can read Damaris's awesome review HERE.

I became ensnared right away in the story and I like the main protagonist, DJ.  She is down to earth and her voice is engaging and draws you in like a friend.  The humor of the character connected with me and at times had me laughing out loud.  

I have to admit at times it did seem like it was going down a road filled with storylines I had read before, but then the author surprised me and pulled away from typicality. (Yes, typicality is a word, I looked it up.)

I love the romance, mostly because it isn't the main focus, but also because when it is on the page, it is a bit heart thumping.  I have to say I'm Team Jake.  Maybe it is typical in the way the two male characters were into DJ right away.  HOWEVER, there was no "insta-love" it was just that these two guys were attracted to her, and really, that is okay.  That *does* happen. 

The writing is great and Ms. Johnson uses lovely and poetic to illustrate a scene or thought and straight shooting to convey action.  The details are incredible.  They are mixed in naturally and don't bog the prose down at all.  I love the smattering of history (LaFitte's brothers, the architecture), tidbits dropped in about the city (the Black Pearl area, Rampart Street) and also the details about her magic work using specific spells, crystals and plants - I feel like I can concoct these potions and powders myself now.  The worldbuilding as well is subtle and effective and not overdone.

I also loved, loved, loved The Times-Picayune quotes at the top of several chapters that chronicles the progression and aftermath of Katrina.  The observation of this tragic time in New Orleans is portrayed with compassion and I agonzed for the citizens all over again.  The hurricane is an important plot device and used thoughtfully, showing details through a resident's perspective however, not the main focus but as part of the setting.

A small issue I have is I still didn't quite understand the motivations of Gerry.  Or maybe, I'm just trying to find too much meaning with this aspect.  Either way, it didn't hamper my enjoyment of the book and I'll probably find out more information and answers to my questions in the next installments.

This is a very clever, unique story that is well researched and includes tension, action, a touch of romance and funny, sympathetic characters.  I urge everyone to read Royal Street.



Unknown said...

The Gerry stuff was a bit murky, but I enjoyed it overall too. Definitely gonna check out the second books when it's out.

Anita Eva said...

Sounds like a fantastic book, Midnyte! Like you, I'm also obsessed with all things New Orleans, particularly when the city makes an appearance in urban fantasy, so I will definitely be checking this one out!


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