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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bad things abound in Louisana...
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...
Published 21 months ago by Rowena Hoseason

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretentious Preternatural
I enjoy novels with a fantasy element but ‘Royal Street’ is total fantasy and I found it rather too much. Main protagonist Drusilla Jaco (DJ) is a junior wizard and via her mentor is thrown into safeguarding New Orleans as Hurricane Katrina allows all sorts of weird beings to return from the dead and slip into the city where killings are taking place. Most...
Published 4 months ago by D. Elliott


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bad things abound in Louisana..., 28 Nov 2012
By 
Rowena Hoseason "Hooligween" (Kernow, Great Britain) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Royal Street (Paperback)
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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.
7/10
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretentious Preternatural, 27 April 2014
By 
D. Elliott (Ulverston, Cumbria) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Royal Street (Paperback)
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I enjoy novels with a fantasy element but ‘Royal Street’ is total fantasy and I found it rather too much. Main protagonist Drusilla Jaco (DJ) is a junior wizard and via her mentor is thrown into safeguarding New Orleans as Hurricane Katrina allows all sorts of weird beings to return from the dead and slip into the city where killings are taking place. Most of the characters, both friends and enemies that DJ encounters, are make believe shape-shifters, zombies, elves, fae, magicians etc. but also some real individuals as the pirate Jean Laffite and cornet player Louis Armstrong. She conjures up some, and she returns some from and to the preternatural beyond, and most importantly she has to save her missing mentor.

Perhaps due to the nature of the subject I found author Suzanne Johnson’s writing to be simplistic, and it lumbered along from one scenario to the next without any sense of tension. DJ is nave as she misses opportunities and makes poor decisions to unnecessarily put herself and others in danger. However the setting in New Orleans and the linking to Hurricane Katrina are intriguing, especially with the area’s reputation for voodoo, plus the reality of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation and its aftermath. In addition a love triangle is introduced, but DJ confuses love and lust and nothing matures as she is repeatedly distracted. At the conclusion of ‘Royal Street’ there are numerous open-ended threads and a sequel is expected. I hope this will drop use of the irritatingly pretentious word ‘preternatural’ and use just ‘supernatural’.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Another Southern paranormal..., 2 Dec 2013
By 
Me read (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Royal Street (Paperback)
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I was looking forward to starting this new series but was a little apprehensive as it's touted as a mix of Sookie Stackhouse and Harry Dresden. I've read books in both those series and wasn't a major fan or either, unfortunately. I was hoping the similarities to those books and Royal Street would be superficial and hopefully just a marketing ploy to tempt fans of those series to it. Like the Sookie books this is set in Louisana and like Harry Dresden's world the main focus are the Wizard sentinels.

The main character likes to be known as 'DJ' (although everyone calls her a different name - DJ, Drucilla, Drucilla Jane, Drucilla Jaco, jolie...too many names, truth be told) and she is a New Orleans assistant sentinel. When the story opens Hurricane Katrina is about to strike.

I liked the world building and some of the secondary characters and the actual story isn't bad...I just didn't warm to 'DJ'. She annoys me quite a bit, actually. One minute she's a strong independent woman taking control with a devil-may-care attitude, the next she's out of her depth with mostly everything. A few times it almost got the better of me but I forced myself to stay interested so I could find out where it was all headed and reach the conclusion. The 'love triangle' situation was a mountain out of a molehill really and was almost a major stumbling block for me. It was only ever going to be a triangle if DJ let it be and since she's so fickle and indecisive it all just got a bit tiresome.

I'm hoping she matures a bit in the next book and puts all that nonsense behind her, now that she's got a bit more experience and has a better idea of what she's supposed to be doing and is capable of.

I'll read the next one because I think the series has potential, I'm just not completely on board....yet.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, But Could Have Done With More Worldbuilding, 24 July 2013
By 
Ginny (London, England) - See all my reviews
See my review of this book, and many more, at TalesfromtheGreatEastRoad.wordpress.com

Drusilla Jaco, DJ to her friends, thought her job was hard - mixing potions, helping to guard New Orleans from supernatural creatures (including attractive undead pirates), and negotiating politics with the Elder wizards. When the city is warned to evacuate due to the oncoming Hurricane Katrina, her mentor Gerry insists DJ leaves while he stays to defend the city from whatever may come. DJ watches safely as her city avoids the worst of the hurricane, only to be severely damaged by flooding. As heartbreaking as it is to watch, DJ's worst nightmare comes true when she gets a call from the Elders: Gerry has disappeared and the walls between the Otherworld and the mortal world have weakened.

Partnered with the stubborn, but good looking, Alex who works for the FBI, and hiding from the undead pirate she tricked who is back for revenge, DJ must help rebuild New Orleans and protect it from the supernatural monsters now unleashed. With a serial killer targeting wizards with voodoo rituals and the rise of disturbing questions about Gerry's views concerning the Elders, DJ may have her work cut out for her.

The use of Hurricane Katrina was very interesting, and justly done. Seeing the damage done to New Orleans through DJ's eyes, and her relief and guilt as she realises just how lucky she was to have escaped and have her home undamaged, was almost painful to read. Her heartbreak was real and helped to make DJ a sympathetic character.The descriptions of the city were also thorough, creating some very moving scenes. The few scenes in the Otherworld towards the end of the book where also very enjoyable. Hopefully, the Otherworld will be explored further in the rest of the series as it was isolated to Old Orleans, and had the potential to be far more varied in both setting and characters.

The romance in Royal Street is of the slow-burn variety, beginning with hostility between DJ and her partner Alex, slowly becoming friendship as they trust and confide in each other. Both DJ and Alex are likeable characters, despite their faults - namely both being stubborn, unnecessarily so at times. Jean Lafitte, the undead pirate and other half of the possible love triangle, on the other hand, was a character who was much harder to like and trust - though this does make him quite interesting. His motives are constantly unclear as he changes allegiances and plans with no notice. It is only obvious that he looks out for himself. Though this makes his character interesting and unpredictable, as a romantic interest it makes him unstable and fairly unbelievable, since he has tried several times to kill DJ. Other than his looks, there doesn't seem to be any other reason to be a romance with.

The use of voodoo in this book was very interesting, but could have been expanded. In fact, this seems to be the biggest fault with Royal Street. Though a few ideas and especially the world building was not as extensive as it could have been, as this is just the first of the series, I can only hope that these great ideas are further explored in the next novels, which I will be reading.

3.5 stars
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fun, pacey, and atmospheric read with some flaws, 10 Dec 2012
This review is from: Royal Street (Paperback)
When Royal Street was first published in the US, I read some reviews for it and thought it sounded as very interesting book, so when I was offered a review copy by the book's UK publisher I didn't hesitate in saying yes, hoping to find out whether my impressions from the blurb and the reviews were correct. What spoke to me most in those reviews was the praise Johnson garnered for her portrayal of New Orleans immediately after Hurricane Katrina. Having watched the horrible after-effects of Katrina on TV and living in a country where about a quarter of its territories are below sea level and thus vulnerable to flooding, this was an element that resonated with me. It turns out that the reviews didn't lie; the portrayal of New Orleans and its survivors was strong and heartfelt.

In addition to the interesting setting, Johnson creates an intriguing magical setting, with a magical community divided into human wizards, who live in our world and the rest of the magical beings who mainly live in the Beyond, but try to crossover to our plane every chance they get. In addition to all the regular supernatural creatures, or preternaturals as they are called in Royal Street, Johnson has added the historical undead, spirits that are being kept alive - or rather undead and kicking - by people's vivid memories and veneration of them. These historical undead make for an interesting ingredient in the world and allow Johnson to include legendary New Orleanians such as Jean Lafitte and Louis Armstrong without having to fabricate a history where they were turned into vampires. The structure of wizarding society into classes divided by skills ruled by the Elders was well thought through and it'll be interesting to see how these Congresses are developed in following instalments of the Sentinels of New Orleans series.

While Royal Street has a very cool protagonist in the person of DJ and some very likeable characters - even one of the villains is likeable- its characters are also where for me the first cracks started to show. As stated, she's a cool character. She's not a big fireworks throwing wizard, she's a Green Congress wizard whose powers manifest through potion and ritual. She's also an empath and Johnson uses this to great effect to show how hard life after Katrina is, when she has DJ move through the city half-shielded. But DJ also has some less enjoyable traits. The one that drove me to distraction most was her constantly harping on about the physical attractiveness of the male characters. After hearing about Alex's imposing physique or Jake's cute dimples two or three times I got the picture, but DJ keeps repeating it. Even to the point that she refers to her opponent's impressive musculature in the middle of a serious fight. This bugged me and I thought it lessened DJ's character.

In addition, there are some predictable plot elements that were somewhat disappointing. First of all, the love triangle - why must there always be a love triangle? - between DJ, Alex, and Jake. I usually dislike love triangles, but in this case it had the added annoyance that there isn't a clear cut preference. It seems as if even the author doesn't know who she wants DJ to end up with, which in my case led me to just being annoyed with DJ for leading both these equally nice guys on. Similarly with a revelation on DJ's bloodlines about three quarters on in the book, which had been telegraphed so clearly that to me at least it wasn't such a big surprise.

Despite these issues, however, I did really enjoy the time I spent in Johnson's New Orleans. Royal Street was a fun and pacey read, that left me looking forward to finding out what happens next. And yes darnit, I do want to know who DJ ends up choosing. If you like your urban fantasy atmospheric and with more than a touch of romance, Royal Street will be right up your alley.

This book was provided for review by the publisher.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Predictable and slow to get moving!, 26 Feb 2013
By 
Sarah Durston (London) - See all my reviews
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Drusilla Jaco (DJ) is an inexperienced wizard living in New Orleans at the time of Hurricane Katrina, when her mentor goes missing. She attempts to find him with the help of the Elders (those who manage and govern magic) and their appointed `enforcer' Alex. DJ must overcome forces from `Beyond'; a drunken pirate and a master of voodoo, as well as exert her independence and ability.

There was a lot to recommend this book. It is the first in a series and if it is seen as an introduction to characters then it's a passable easy read. The description of the devastation after the hurricane was some of the best writing in the book and was written with feeling and sensitivity. Unfortunately, it took too long for the plot to get going and when it did everything that happened was largely predictable.

I would read another in this series but I can't help but feel that Janet Evanovich and other similar authors have mastered this style of writing and this felt like a pale comparison.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not exciting, 19 Dec 2012
By 
V. Nicholl (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Royal Street (Paperback)
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Maybe this writer will hit her stride in a few books, but I doubt I will be reading them. It is told in the first person, but the author only gives you snippets of information, to attempt to leave you wanting more. It is a generic set-up (frustrating council of elders, mentor who doesn't let her spread her wings, sexy-but-unsuitable potential love interest etc. etc.) and very much on the lighter end of the paranormal romance/urban fantasy scale. There is a quote on the front saying that fans of Charlaine Harris and Jim Butcher will find this a sure hit, but definitely not for this fan!! I'll admit Butcher's first few Dresden file books were quite ropey, but there was an edge there that made you think 'I'll give him another go, I think there might be something here). For me, the balance does not work. DJ, the protagonist comes across as weak. A pity, but it is always worth trying these new authors!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Slow Starter, 28 Jan 2014
By 
Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog "Falcata T... - See all my reviews
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To be honest I was pretty sold on this title by the book blurb and I was lucky enough to be able to get the first three to read back to back. Add to this the fact that I’d considered using a certain pirate within as a principle player in one of my own projects and I was more than interested to see what would occur within.

What unfurls, for me is a book that sadly starts off very slow. The introduction to the characters feels not only a little forced but also awkward without it feeling like its natural progression to the story overall. And yet, as you make your way through, the authors idea’s clearly come through as the mysterious plot wends its way into the readers imagination. It is a story that takes some getting used to and I hope that after an awkward beginning that the series will go from strength to strength.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Dark & Dangerous Times in the Big Easy, 3 Sep 2014
By 
R. E. Quinn (Great Britian) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Royal Street (Paperback)
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With hurricane Katrina bearing down on the city junior wizard sentinel Drusilla Jaco is order to evacuate to her grandmothers house out of the city by her boss Sentinel of New Orleans Gerald St Simon.

But after the hurricane has hit she cannot contact him and when she is suddenly contacted by The Elders Council and ordered to return it seems Gerry is missing and the city is in trouble.

Not only has Katrina damaged the city physically but it has damaged the barrier between this world and the next and now the dead are coming to visit in greater numbers than usual.

With an enforcer assigned from the council as her new partner and a supernatural murderer on the loose Drusilla must try to save not only her boss and mentor but her city from chaos.

I am usually a sucker for anything New Orleans based as it gives me the chance to do my geeky tourist thing when I'm reading it (I've been there!, I've seen that!) but in a genre that is getting very overpopulated it needs a new hook to catch the reader these days. Vampires, Werewolves, Shape Shifters there is a lot of them out there now days and there are only so many ideas or ways of presenting them.

With Royal Street the author has made an attempt to bring a new slant to the genre I found the story a bit slow to start and maybe there were too many characters for a first book if she is intending to expand the series she could have maybe introduced them more gradually.

I can't say this has been my favourite book in this genre but I would definitely be willing to give a second book a try.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Great fun read with plenty of promise for a next ..., 17 July 2014
By 
rhosymynydd "liz" (west wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Royal Street (Paperback)
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A Great fun read with plenty of promise for a next adventure!.

Set in the traumatic post storm days of Hurricane Katrina's effects on New Orleans, a young witch. Drusilla Jaco, is desptached to NO to help solve the rifts appearing in the layer between this world and the supernatural. Her co-wizard and sentinal Alex is there to protect her but to fight his seemingly unwanted presence, he turns into a loving pup in order to watch over her at night.The pathway to the other side is used by non other than Jean Lafitte, the 250 year old pirate, womaniser and all round bad guy. However, he seems to find Dru (known as DJ) very attractive which turns out to have its uses, even though she banished him back through the portal for a few weeks following their first encounter (that also enouraged Alex to use his shapeshifting ability to remain by her side).

All around there are murders, strange markings left on houses where shortly after the occupant would be found dead. Dru and Alex are in hot pursuit of the mysterious culprit(s), despite the other sides' forces continually at battle to reach through to New Orleans.

This is a rip-roaring, old-fashioned, fun, quick read. Good old adventure and fantasy set in a very real disaster zone. It brings the dark days of New orleans tradgedy to life as the damage to building and property is recounted effectively while they search for Alex's predecessor, Gerald St Simeon (who also brought DJ up from the age of 5). Lots of detail, good characterisation of the "extras" and super use of real "named old residents of Old New Orleans. Highly recommmended for all who just enjoy a good light-hearted read. Looking forward to #2.
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Royal Street
Royal Street by Suzanne Johnson (Paperback - 27 Sep 2012)
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