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Royal Street by Suzanne Johnson
Cover Artist: Cliff Nielsen
Review by Gayle Surrette
Tor Books Trade Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765327796
Date: 10 April 2012 List Price $14.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

Drusilla Jane "DJ" Jaco is a deputy sentinel of New Orleans. She's an empath and a Green Congress wizard. She's been wanting her license upgraded to full sentinel. But her mentor and trainer, Gerald "Gerry" St. Simon, doesn't feel she's ready, especially when she has a bit of trouble with sending Jean Lafitte back to the Beyond -- the Old Orleans.

Hurricane Katrina is moving in on New Orleans. DJ and Gerry both think it's going to amount to nothing, but decide to follow protocol anyway. DJ is to go to her grandmother's home while Gerry stays to protect the city, because hurricane's can play havoc with the borders between the Old and New Orleans.

Katrina turns out to be much worse than they thought it was going to be. DJ is watching the devastation on the news. She loses contact with Gerry -- technological and magical. She hopes he'll be there when she returns.

The chapter heading have news snippets from the Times Picayune. This, plus the setting of the story, brought back memories of Katrina and its aftermath -- the stories from friends who had to evacuate, or had to return to help relatives with the damage, or to help them move what little they had left after the storm. What I'd forgotten is that after Katrina, they got hit by another hurricane.

Johnson has created characters that are so real they could walk off the page. Set in New Orleans, the city that seems to be perfect for urban fantasies since even without magic in this world, it's a magical city. With the barriers dropping between the Beyond and New Orleans, creatures from the other side must be sent back and only a deputy sentinel and an FBI agent, who also works as an enforcer for the Elders of the magical world, are qualified and able to help restore the status quo.

DJ is focused on finding her mentor, and the FBI agent on stopping a serial killer targeting the homes of residents with magical powers. Can they work together? With all their usual support gone or unavailable, how can they restore order in a city that has been devastated by nature?

This is a wonderful story set within a historical event that most readers will have memories of. Johnson does a great job with keeping the action going, showing the impact of the storm on ordinary people, and never taking the easy way out.

Highly recommended.

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