Thursday, August 15, 2013

Royal Street by Suzanne Johnson

Royal Street (Sentinels of New Orleans, #1)Royal Street by Suzanne  Johnson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Royal Street is a very refreshing and enjoyable urban fantasy read.  I was captivated by the sights and scenery of New Orleans, and the honest and enlightening perspective of the city during and after the Hurricane Katrina devastation.  We did get refugees (both human and animal) from New Orleans around that time in the Austin, and also the poisoned air drifted our way, causing a lot of allergy and respiratory issues.  Seeing the aftermath from a more distant perspective was painful enough. I can't imagine having experienced it firsthand. Ms. Johnson allowed me to do this in reading this book.  New Orleans has such a personality, that it continually establishes itself as a important character in her own right in books.  This reader is not jaded at meeting this beautiful ancient dame yet again.

Drusilla Jaco doesn't cede all the attention to New Orleans. She establishes herself as a likable character whose story you want to learn.  She's neither too strong, nor too weak.  Her strengths and weaknesses balance themselves out, making her a character I want to accompany on an adventure.  Drusilla is a wizard, which is fun.  Usually the tendency is to make a female UF protagonist a witch, which I feel can be a bit sexist. It could also be that I am not a big fan of witch storylines and witchcraft.  I can and do like the idea of wizards a little more, and why can't a woman be a wizard? In this case, she is not just a wizard, but one with a special heritage which comes into play. That was fun to see Drusilla, or DJ, as she is called, come into herself and her genetic inheritance.

As far as other characters, I definitely liked Alex and Jake. Boy howdy, I do not care for love triangles, but this one feels credible.  Both guys have a lot to offer, and you do feel torn. I have made up my mind who I want Drusilla to end up with, but we'll see what the series has to say about that.  Either way, so long as it doesn't turn into bed-switching (which has become almost an UF staple lately), I'm okay with going along for the ride. Now that Jean Lafitte, he's a character. I find him sexy, but it's in a "I'm so wrong to think he's sexy" kind of way.  I mean, he's ruthless and amoral, and he is physically abusive. I'm not feeling that at all. At the same time, he is a cutthroat pirate, so I can't really ascribe 21st century values to him, can I?  Yeah, I'm feeling conflicted.  At any rate, he's an interesting character.  I can't really tell you about one of my favorite characters, who is in fact an inanimate object that DJ calls Charlie.  Let me just say that Lord of the Rings fans will find it very cool indeed!

As far as the urban fantasy action, this book is pretty good on that score although it could have used more showing and more description.  I did feel that the final confrontation wasn't as exciting and as well-executed as I would have liked. Admittedly, I am a stickler for well-written action scenes, so I tend to grade harder in that area.  I did like that Drusilla does get to save the day. It was important for her to be able to do so, even though she did get a bit of help along the way.

Royal Street is a great start to a series that has me excited to read more.  I liked the concept and the characters are appealing and have me interested in reading more, including the Grande Dame of New Orleans. 

Urban fantasy readers looking for a book that would appeal to both male and female readers should find something to like in this book. I know I did!

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