Being a total sucker for Louisiana in general, NOLA in particular, and sassy supernatural stories in between, this new series could've been written with me in mind. There are moments when I wonder if the 'dark fantasy' genre isn't full to overflowing but, as Royal Street proves, there always seems to be room on top for one more.
Mind you, it is getting tough for authors to find any original wrinkles to add to the magic / monsters mix of myth in the modern world, and you won't find many new concepts in here. The standard ingredients are thrown together with some panache, however: an unready and inexperienced apprentice forced to take on overwhelming odds; an intriguing mix of supernaturals including weres, wizards and whathaveyou; an inevitable overload of love interests; an unwelcome partner; an ambivalent ruling council, and a bad-tempered cat. There's romance but it's low key, not an in-your-face shagfest as some supernatural series can be.
The author has a lively writing style, easy to get along with, and the pace of the tale is generally fast 'n' light. It's not over-burdened with deep philosophical debate or strikingly stylish prose -and I did get a little frustrated with the heroine's seemingly irrational grump towards the guy who'd been sent to help her. I'd've thought that if you're up to your ass in alligators then a guy who comes fully loaded with automatic weaponry would be seen as an asset, and got a little tired with her adolescent attitude towards him in the early stages of the book. It smoothed out as the threat developed and our heroine's hidden secrets started to bubble up until, by the end, I was romping through the pages. Really enjoyed the use of historical characters, too, which is a nice tweak to the usual format. Hope to see more voodoo queens and jazz musicians in future books in the series. The author also does a creditable job of walking us around New Orleans and its battered bars and gin joints; she's nothing like as flowery as Anne Rice, but there are echoes of the same love of the city and its unique architecture and ambience.
Overall, Royal Street is as enjoyable as a frothy coffee with caramel syrup, and about as substantial. But that's no bad thing: this genre is all about escapism, and it surely serves out a good dollop of that.