Monday, April 30, 2012
Book Review: ROYAL STREET
Date Published: April 10, 2012
Drusilla Jaco is a wizard, empath, and junior sentinel for New Orleans. Her job is to help protect the city from any beings that might cross over from the preternatural world, though to her chagrin she is delegated to mixing potions and research much more than she would like. When Hurricane Katrina hits New Orleans with crashing force, it not only unleashes torrents of floodwater and devastation, but creates breaches between this world and the next. Now the undead are loose in the city, people are being murdered and strange symbols are appearing at the crime scenes.
To top it all off, DJ's boss, Gerald St. Simon, is missing, DJ has infuriated the undead pirate Jean Lafitte and he's out for revenge, and the wizard Elders have assigned DJ a new partner who thinks all problems can be solved with a gun and a grenade. The search for Gerry and the serial killer unravels secrets that threaten to destroy DJ and shows her where love and friendship are truly found.
This is a book I would not normally pick up, because I prefer stories that take place in fantasy worlds rather than urban fantasy. However, I know Suzanne Johnson from her website, so I thought I'd give it a try (plus, the cover looked pretty cool). I was pleasantly surprised by the creative ideas and world building in this book. The author has seamlessly fused historical details with story, and we see the likes of pirate Jean Lafitte, Louis Armstrong, and Marie Laveau make appearances along with the wizards and shapeshifters. The sadness and devastation Hurricane Katrina wrought is dealt with respectfully along with the horror of the preternatural world released into ours.
I enjoyed reading from DJ's perspective as she is spunky, irritable, a bit sarcastic, and totally human in her actions and desires. Her drive to find her mentor and father-figure, Gerry, and her stubborn belief that he is still alive despite evidence to the contrary is the heart of this novel. She struggles with her own abilities and emotions while battling the undead and uncovering secrets. I was worried that the romance between DJ and her partner Alex would take over the story, but it remained appropriately in the background.
One thing I wished for was a little more tension and excitement from secret-reveals. There are certain things that DJ learns through dialogue that I wish she had discovered on her own. She could have become very angry or upset about certain things that would have increased tension between characters, but instead she takes them pretty calmly and the story moves on. Also, several parts of the book are very slow and it takes a while for the story to get moving.
I love the small taste of elves we get in this story through DJ's elvish ancestry and the magic staff she discovers. The staff isn't just a prop, but allows her to do magic she couldn't normally do on her own and seems to have powers she is yet unaware of. I am hoping we learn more about it and DJ's connection to the elves in the next books.
Overall, an enjoyable read for urban fantasy fans filled with adventure, mystery, and secrets uncovered.