Book Review: Suzanne Johnson’s Royal Street

Posted September 4, 2013 by Kathy Davie in

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Suzanne Johnson’s Royal Street

Royal Street

on April 10, 2012 and has 336 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

First in the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series revolving around Drusilla Jaco, a Green Wizard.

Is this a YA? Might explain the immature writing.

My Take

Johnson hooked me on the first page, and then slid downhill. It was one cliché after another with future events broadcast pages ahead; every time she promises she’ss stay safe indoors, yup, she heads out, always leaping in without backup. There was some of the usual foreshadowing, but it was mixed in with some that was practically screaming in my ear. This resulted in a decided lack of tension, although there was plenty of melodrama.

Gran telling her she has the physical aspect of magic, which DJ already knows she doesn’t have (eye roll), and all the attempts at humor with the repeated and annoying Good thing I didn’t notice stuff like that (bigger eye roll) was too obvious and annoying.

I enjoyed…hmmm, lousy choice of word!…the Katrina impact on the story. It was very definitely cleaned up and not as horrific in this story as it was in real life, which I did appreciate. Has it really been eight years already? I do want some of that window coating DJ uses!

The underlying theme for the series is resentment. Each supernatural type has their own group, which is reasonable. However, they do resent the Congress of Elders, the wizards, for being in control of who has territory where and preventing the dead from crossing over from the Beyond into the Now.

The lead character was annoying and kept doing stupid things. Why did no one ever tell her about her parents? And I get so tired of that bloody mojo bag! Do we have to be told every time?? Gerry wasn’t much of a prize, either. With all his experience, he seriously believes his ally?? Gimme a break. At the least, Johnson could have carried through with DJ’s burst of hopeful insight, provide Gerry with a better “excuse”. This tale is full of classic uses of melodrama to amp up the tension, and it’s annoying.

It reads as though Johnson is trying. She’s trying to be cute. She’s trying to be snarky. She’s trying to be sexy. And she does have all the right words, they’re just not coming out right. There’s a shallowness that I get while reading even though there is a depth to the story itself. It’s like reading Anita Blake-lite.

I do like the stray dog routine! Too funny. Too bad she didn’t take it far enough.

The Story

Finally. Gerry is finally giving DJ a decent mission. She is so fed up with the lame pixie retrievals and doggie missions, but she is definitely going to demand combat pay…especially if scum are going to actually touch her!

So, it’s a successful mission, if a bit icky, but there’s this storm coming and sentinel policy is to leave one wizard behind to keep an eye on weakening boundaries. Which leaves DJ stuck with getting out of town and heading up to her Gran’s. Well, it’s better than sitting it out with the jerky Elder in Las Cruces!

But events don’t hold still for anyone and the Elders insist DJ head back into New Orleans to locate the now-missing Gerry. And solve a serial murder case targeting National Guardsmen. With her new partner. The one targeting the missing Gerry.

The Characters

Drusilla “DJ” Jaco, a.k.a., Jolie, is a Green Congress wizard who has lived with Gerry since she was seven when her own family dumped her off with him. Gran is her mother’s mother, and she gave up her magic when she married DJ’s grandfather. Peter Jaco is DJ’s dad; Martha is her stepmother. Gandalf is the stray dog who mooches his way in.

Gerry, Gerald St. Simon, is DJ’s mentor, her boss, the sentinel of New Orleans, and a Red Congress wizard known for complaining about how the Elders run things. He’s pounded the rules into DJ, but it seems they may not apply to him. Letitia “Tish” Newman is a Green Congress wizard and Gerry’s girlfriend. Sebastian is his cranky Siamese cat.

Alexander Warin, The Man in Black, is an Enforcer for the Congress of Elders disguised as an FBI agent. He’s also a shapeshifter AND DJ’s new, very unwanted partner. It’s a good thing DJ tells us ’cause her show isn’t very good. It is fair that he’s here to back up DJ as she has never been a Sentinel before. Jacob “Jake” Warin is his cousin. A discharged Marine with a nasty leg injury who runs a bar, the Green Gator. Leyla, who has a passion for Alex, is Jake’s bartender. Don Warin is a helpful older brother.

Captain Jean Lafitte, yes, he’s that Lafitte, the pirate who aided New Orleans against the British. Yeah, he’s dead, but he exists in the Beyond where even the dead live and scheme to cross over from Old Orleans to New Orleans. Pierre Lafitte is much less enthused about DJ, and Dominique You, Jean’s second-in-command (& rumored to be his half-brother) practically hates her.

Louis Armstrong (Jackie Williams will be his undercover name) is one of the dead who wanders over from the Beyond, and DJ has a use for him. Unfortunately, Marie Laveau also crosses over.

Eugenie Dupre is DJ’s neighbor and operates Shear Luck, a hair salon across the street. Detective Ken Hachette is NOPD and a friend of Alex and Jake’s; he and Jake used to own the Gator together until Jake bought him out. Adam Lyle is Yellow Congress and volunteering at St. Gabriel’s to help with the aftermath of Katrina.

Elder Willem Zrakovi is the head of the North American wizards. Daniel Ciro is the head of the Red Congress, Gerry’s boss.

The Congress of Elders rule the wizards and the rest of the supernatural community. Green Congress wizards are “the geeks of the magical world”, using potions and rituals. Red Congress wizards do physical magic—the flashy stuff. Yellow Congress specializes in mental magic. Sentinels are wizards in charge of cities or regions and keep an eye on the boundary between the Beyond and our world, the Now.

The Cover and Title

The cover is gorgeous in its peach tones. I love the floaty quality with DJ’s hair floating within the energy generated by the elven staff she wields. The old-fashioned street lamp with the street sign is a nice touch…Royal Street.