Royal Street (Sentinels of New Orleans #1) By Suzanne Johnson
April 10, 2012
Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “ Who summoned you? I bet it was the mayor. He’s been showing signs of post traumatic stress.”
Drusilla Jaco is a junior wizard who stands as sentinel between the mortal world and the beyond in her beloved New Orleans. As hurricane Katrina hits and her mentor, Gerry disappears, DJ finds herself in over her head as boundaries weaken between the planes and evidence mounts that Gerry is a traitor. When the Elder Wizards council pairs DJ with a gun toting paranormal enforcer who is investigating a series of murders, DJ realizes that she will have to find Gerry before the Elders do if she wants to save his life and her own.
Royal Street is the first in Suzanne Johnson’s Sentinels Of New Orleans series. The story sets up right before Katrina hit New Orleans and Ms. Johnson does a nice job of building her world to illustrate the devastation and confusion that was the aftermath of that horrific hurricane. Using lush descriptions, news reports, and her characters personal accounts; we are given an intimate view of what they saw and felt in the aftermath when the levees collapsed. While the world building and premise promises a much anticipated urban fantasy, a fledgling wizard forced to deal with the supernatural entities that seek to enter her world, the actual story and characters failed to engage me at all. It’s not that the overall story was bad or good; it was just there. The story starts out incredibly slow for me. We do little more than watch our heroine do “meet and greets.” There is no suspense or anticipation as we are led through the various investigations. The plot and sub plots are laid out in a matter of fact fashion that left not much to the imagination. It wasn’t until well past the halfway mark that we begin to see some action as we march towards the conclusion.
Ms. Johnson spends a majority of the book flirting with a love triangle (maybe even a quad-angle) yet only tap dances around it, never committing to anything. I found the men in DJ’s life to lack any sort of characteristics that would have made them memorable to me. They were cookie cutters who did and said all the right things but with no flair or style. The only one who really stood out was Jean Lafitte and unfortunately, he wasn’t around enough to make a real difference. I found our heroine also didn’t inspire any confidence or memorable moments for me either. She seemed to suffer from a trap many UF heroines fall into-a complete lack of good sense. She jumped into the middle of dangerous situations without stopping to think things through, causing herself and others to be hurt. After the fourth and fifth time, I was hoping Ms. Johnson would kill her off and bring in someone else. Her dialogue was immature at times and while she didn’t immediately jump into bed with anyone, she also didn’t foster any real feelings towards them. Any flirting she does felt forced. I never felt she really connected to anyone in here.
Certain scenes within the book showed great promise in bringing humor, depth, and a greater understanding of the plot and Dj herself, yet they fall flat as Ms. Johnson only goes so far before she abruptly leaves and takes us elsewhere. There is one on particular scene where DJ learns some devastating news of her family’s past; yet the dialogue surrounding it is uninspiring as if they were discussing the weather.
All in all, while I enjoyed the time and consideration that Ms. Johnson brings to the set up and exploration of the city and its inhabitants, the plot and its characters failed to elicit even a spark of excitement as I labored my way through this story.
Overall Rating: D