Review: Sentinels of New Orleans Series by Suzanne Johnson

Royal Street

Royal Street
by Suzanne Johnson
Series: Sentinels of New Orleans #1
Publication: April 10th 2012
by Tor Books
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Source: ebook provided for tour
in exchange for an honest review

My Rating:

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As the junior wizard sentinel for New Orleans, Drusilla Jaco’s job involves a lot more potion-mixing and pixie-retrieval than sniffing out supernatural bad guys like rogue vampires and lethal were-creatures. DJ’s boss and mentor, Gerald St. Simon, is the wizard tasked with protecting the city from anyone or anything that might slip over from the preternatural beyond.

Then Hurricane Katrina hammers New Orleans’ fragile levees, unleashing more than just dangerous flood waters.

While winds howled and Lake Pontchartrain surged, the borders between the modern city and the Otherworld crumbled. Now, the undead and the restless are roaming the Big Easy, and a serial killer with ties to voodoo is murdering the soldiers sent to help the city recover.

To make it worse, Gerry has gone missing, the wizards’ Elders have assigned a grenade-toting assassin as DJ’s new partner, and undead pirate Jean Lafitte wants to make her walk his plank. The search for Gerry and for the serial killer turns personal when DJ learns the hard way that loyalty requires sacrifice, allies come from the unlikeliest places, and duty mixed with love creates one bitter gumbo.

My Thoughts

I feel like I’m the only person in the book blogging world that hadn’t read this series until now. I’ve read (and loved) everything written by Suzanne’s alter-ego, Susannah Sandlin, but had yet to sink my teeth into this juicy bit of Urban Fantasy. I feel complete now that I’ve finally caught up! Ahhh, the rewards of delayed gratification.

Royal Street takes place in New Orleans during the time of Hurricane Katrina. The story revolves around our heroine, Drusilla Jaco, better known as DJ, a junior sentinel and empath. She is part of a group of Congress Wizards, called Sentinels, that patrol the border between our world and the Beyond, where the supernaturals reside. She begins to feel like she’s not being utilized to her full potential. She wants more responsibility and less of the crap jobs. I think we can all relate to that in some way or another. Gerald St. Simon, is not only DJ’s superior, but also her mentor and the man who raised her from the young age of seven. Ooh, you know there’s got to be something more to that, right? With Hurricane Katrina approaching, DJ is forced to evacuate, but Gerry is required to stay behind. Once the dust settles we find out that Gerry is missing, and DJ must return to investigate his disappearance. As if that isn’t tragic enough, the catastrophic storm caused the gateway between the supernatural realm and the real world to become vulnerable, allowing preternatural creatures to cross over. Upon DJ’s return, she is “introduced” to her new partner, Alex, an enforcer for the Elders, in a most unconventional way. Together they must not only locate Gerry and patrol the border, but they are also tasked with finding a mysterious voodoo serial killer. Piece of cake, right? Ha!

Royal Street is full of extremely unique characters, remarkable world-building, and loads of action and mystery. I really enjoyed reading about New Orleans since I’ve never had the pleasure of seeing it for myself, not that I want to be there during a tropical storm. Suzanne is a native of New Orleans and it is evident in her writing. She has a relationship with this setting that I haven’t found in many other books, as if New Orleans, too, is a character in her story. I am thoroughly impressed with the complexity of Suzanne’s characters and their comprehensive narratives. Jean LaFitte, for example, is a historical undead pirate who only exists because of the magic of human memories. I mean, how freaking cool is that? It’s difficult to decide which character is my favorite in this story because there are several that top the charts. DJ is smart and sassy, her inner monologue is incredibly amusing. Alex, her new parter, is all sorts of sexy, and I love that there is sexual tension between them, but no real romance. Their new partnership goes through stages and evolves, as it would in reality. And Jean, the historical undead pirate with his sexy accent, flirtatious smirks and smoldering eyes. Yeah, there are a lot of awesome characters in this book!

In all honesty, I haven’t read a lot of Urban Fantasy, as I’ve just recently acquired a hankering for it, but after reading this book, Sentinels of New Orleans is a series that’s headed to the top of my list. For me Royal Street started a little slow at first — although it could have just been my mood. I am a woman, you know — but it did pick up the pace and I am eager to continue the series. I see a great deal of growth and character development happening, especially with our heroine. DJ is smart and persistent, but I have a feeling there is more progress to be made, and more excitement headed my way in the coming installments.

MBA underline

River Road

River Road
by Suzanne Johnson
Series: Sentinels of New Orleans #2
Publication: November 13th 2012
by Tor Books
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Source: ebook provided for tour
in exchange for an honest review

My Rating:

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Hurricane Katrina is long gone, but the preternatural storm rages on in New Orleans. New species from the Beyond moved into Louisiana after the hurricane destroyed the borders between worlds, and it falls to wizard sentinel Drusilla Jaco and her partner, Alex Warin, to keep the preternaturals peaceful and the humans unaware. But a war is brewing between two clans of Cajun merpeople in Plaquemines Parish, and down in the swamp, DJ learns, there’s more stirring than angry mermen and the threat of a were-gator.

Wizards are dying, and something—or someone—from the Beyond is poisoning the waters of the mighty Mississippi, threatening the humans who live and work along the river. DJ and Alex must figure out what unearthly source is contaminating the water and who—or what—is killing the wizards. Is it a malcontented merman, the naughty nymph, or some other critter altogether? After all, DJ’s undead suitor, the pirate Jean Lafitte, knows his way around a body or two.

It’s anything but smooth sailing on the bayou as the Sentinels of New Orleans series continues.

My Thoughts

River Road picks up three years after Hurricane Katrina, and our heroine has matured and blossomed into a pretty awesome sentinel. I adore DJ, her stream of consciousness really cracks me up and I can appreciate her spunk. We dive right into the thick of things as this second installment takes off, a much faster pace than the first book started with. And.. queue the Mermen! Hehe. Yes, you heard me correctly, there are clans of merpeople in this second book, along with a few other new supernatural characters, and they all blend perfectly into this phenomenal urban fantasy tale.

There are two clans of merpeople living in Plaquemines Parish, one that has lived there forever and one that recently moved into the territory. There’s a major feud going on between them because someone has poisoned the water in their hunting grounds and both clans blame each other. DJ, being the bright girl she is, knows that something is rotten in Denmark. Why would either clan poison the water where they both live? Jean Lafitte sets up a meeting between the mermen and DJ to discuss options for resolving this issue. Oh, and merpeople don’t like wizards either. Fun times for DJ, being the empath she is. That would totally suck to be able to feel the disdain another person has for you, wouldn’t it? Alex and DJ are tasked with finding the source of the poisoning, and on top of that they need to figure out why wizards are dying. River Road is a roller coaster of fantasy, adventure, the supernatural, and a bit of romance, too!

Let me just say this second installment was FREAKING AWESOME! I would start the third book right now if I could. Oh, smexy men, who do I fancy the most? I would have to say Alex, DJ’s partner. It doesn’t matter, though, because DJ, the lucky lass, has the attention of all three of the hot studs; Alex, Jake, and Jean. Don’t get me wrong, there is far more action and mystery in this tale than romance, but it all balances out very nicely. There are no insta-love, or all too common love triangle situations going on, which is a relief. I’ve had more than my fair share of those so this was a refreshing change. Johnson is a brilliant writer with a remarkable ability to build the world around her characters and allow them to develop naturally. I highly recommend starting this series soon so you’ll have it read in time for Elysian Fields, the third book in this series. I am actually pretty happy that I waited to read it because now I’m not going to have the agonizing months of waiting for the next book!

About the Author

Suzanne Johnson

Suzanne Johnson writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance from Auburn, Alabama, after a career in educational publishing that has spanned five states and six universities. She grew up halfway between the Bear Bryant Museum and Elvis’ birthplace and lived in New Orleans for fifteen years, so she has a highly refined sense of the absurd and an ingrained love of SEC football and fried gator on a stick.

Suzanne’s Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

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Wife, mother, blogger, author, gamer, and a lover of the culinary arts. Toni lives in Michigan with her husband and four children. If she's not writing or curled up with a book, you'll most likely find her playing with her kids, baking cupcakes, or killing zombies.
  • Awesome reviews Toni! I adore this author and her alter-ego! I love urban fantasy and this series has been such fun to read and don’t ya just love the setting. NO is the perfect place for a little paranormal woo-woo!

    • I do love the setting. I want to visit NO someday! This has been such an awesome series. I can’t wait to read Elysian Fields. I have the ARC but have other things I have to read first. You know how it goes… lol. But I’ll have a review here next month for book three.