Jessie (Ageless Pages Reviews)'s Reviews > Royal Street

Royal Street by Suzanne  Johnson
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2.5 out of 5

I went into this UF/PNR pretty hopeful: spunky heroine, a secret wizard organization, Hurricane Katrina, and an undead sexy pirate. What's not to love, besides the Louisiana location (seriously, hasn't another paranormal series coughSookiecough dominated that locale for the last 7 years?)? Well, if you're an apparently unsatisfied reader like me, three out of those four items did not live up to expectations. DJ failed to impress me throughout her misadventures, and the much-advertised Hurricane Katrina lacked the emotional pull the author was aiming for, and this is no Harry-Potter level of wizardry. Suzanne Johnson has the large and unenviable task of setting up a series from this introductory book, and based on the "strengths" of Royal Street, I wish her much luck and patience. '

It's never a good sign when you can't even agree with the heroine on the nickname she gives herself. Drusilla Jaco prefers to go by "DJ" but in my head, she was always Dru. As in, "Dru, why are you doing that?", "Really, Dru, really?!" and "Don't you want to maybe think that through before you do it, Dru?" Dru is a deputy sentinel and is oh-so-very aware of the first word in her title. She doesn't believe in herself or her abilities and feels crippled when her mentor goes missing in the aftermath of Katrina. My problems with this novel really began with Dru: despite my chummy nickname, this is not a character I invested in, even marginally. I managed to finish this because I was powered by an interest to see how everything would wrap up, rather than a desire to see Dru grow and change as a person. She's also mind-numbingly slow to put things together - example: (view spoiler)

In an ironic twist, it's not DJ, or her partner Sentinel Alexander that is the character with the most life. No that honor goes to Jean Lafitte, a pirate who is technically...dead. He's a bastard alright from the first moment he speaks, but damnit, at least he is an interesting and dynamic one. In a cast of so few, where I dislike most of the few, Jean was the one character I would root for continually. He didn't add the most to the story, but when I wanted to slap Dru for her wishywashy romantic love triangle BETWEEN COUSINS, Jean was the only tolerable part of the page. The love-triangle isn't as pronounced as some UF/PNR novels, but is fairly shameless and stupid on DJ's part. Within pages, Dru decides she doesn't want Alex, and goes on a date with his cousin Jake, only to be jealous of a girl looking at Alex while she is on the date with Jake. What? Really? At that point, I just thew up my hands and accepted that DJ was not a girl/character to whom I would ever relate.

If it was all just characterization issues with Royal Street, I could've easily seen a 3or maybe even a 3.5 rating for this novel. However, the twists and turns of the story are sadly predictable and telegraphed to the reader prematurely. I foresaw the resolutions to the main plot as well as most by plots easily and early on - I mostly continued reading to corroborate my correct guesses and see in what capacity Jean LaFitte would sidle into DJ's life. Perhaps best along with Jean, the villains of the piece are worth reading about. Unlike their cliched main character counterparts, Marie Leaveau and Baron Samedi are interesting and unpredictable for the duration of the novel. The murders committed at the heart of the mystery are semi-interesting but tend to get lost in the endlessssss searches for Gerry and the non-ending back-and-forth reporting to the Elders and waiting for a response. So much of this book is research or reporting or waiting that I got bored and would set it aside for several hours before returning to the story.

The world that Johnson has envisioned for her characters to play within is barely sketched out. It seems to be the same world as the one we actually live in (notable appearances: Louis Armstrong, Marie Laveau), but with wizards, vampires, undead, ghosts and other supernatural ilk. The wizards themselves were given a bare framework to illustrate the mechanics of the Sentinels program that was slowly fleshed out as the novel progressed. I liked the separation of talents into different spheres of influence (green congress versus red congress, etc.), though it does severely limit the possible scope of Dru's abilities. Also: (view spoiler)

This is the first in a series, and one I doubt I will pursue. Though my first impression formed ("I like that dead, dastardly pirate!") was one of the few favorable ones I took away from Royal Street, I believe this is a novel that will find a wide audience. Dru is far from a horrible protagonist, and some will genuinely like her wide-eyed and innocent approach to life - this is just not for me. 2/5 stars and a "no, thank you" - I will wonder what Jean LaFitte gets up to in his afterlife on Earth, but curiosity won't make me pick up book two when its out.
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Reading Progress

02/26/2012 page 47
14.0% "Decent so far, but I am not wowed. The world is fun and the threat of Katrina adds drama but I'm not sold on DJ."
02/26/2012 page 62
18.0% "I'm not supposed to root for the dastardly and deadly dark-blue-eyed pirate? Oh."
02/26/2012 page 84
25.0% "Why do I feel like we've not seen the last of Jean Lafitte? Is it bad I like him better than DJ and Alex so far?"
02/26/2012 page 112
33.0% "Why are these two hissing at one another like cats? Why is DJ allowing some random she doesn't like tell her what to eat in her own house?! If this banter is supposed to be amusing/entertaining, it fails miserably."
02/26/2012 page 165
49.0% "Now Dru is out with Jake, after complaining about how much she dislikes Alex and is very much not with/into him, and she's jealous over some girl looking at Alex. I just.. ugh. Love triangles are SO unnecessary and rarely done well. This is no exception."
02/26/2012 page 255
76.0% "So far, I am holding the first opinion formed on this: I like the undead pirate best."
02/26/2012 page 322
96.0% "I just want this to end already."

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Nicole (new)

Nicole FYI, I'm pretty sure Anne Rice and Sherrilyn Kenyon and about a billion other authors used Louisiana as a setting way before the Sookie Stackhouse books. I don't think it's fair to determine it copying when it's possibly the most common setting for paranormal books EVER.

message 2: by Jessie (Ageless Pages Reviews) (last edited Jun 15, 2012 08:38AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews) I have never read Sherrilyn Kenyon and the last time I cracked an Anne Rice novel involving vampires was over 10 years ago. So for me, and most of America I'd guess, with the omnipresent books and the on-going tv show, Sookie Stackhouse is what springs to mind when I think UF/PNR in Louisiana.

And I didn't mean the author had "copied" -- just that it was a certain setting that's been done to death in this particular genre. Thanks for stopping by my review though. I appreciate the comment.

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