“…this is all Johnny Depp’s fault.”

Royal Street by Suzanne Johnson

 

I’ve written a few blogs in recent months explaining why I think the Golden Age of paranormal fantasy may finally be coming to an end. Essentially, it’s because of two hugely significant factors: some of the genre’s most iconic series (like Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan saga, Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire sequence, etc.) are ending, and there has been a conspicuous lack of exciting and innovative debut novelists in recent years.

 

That’s why I’m so excited about Suzanne Johnson’s enthralling debut novel Royal Street, the first installment of her Sentinels of New Orleans series. Set in and around New Orleans – which is obviously nothing new, some of paranormal fantasy’s best series are based around there: Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches trilogy (The Witching Hour, Lasher, and Taltos) Harris’ Southern Vampire saga, Adrian Phoenix’s Hoodoo saga (Black Dust Mambo, et. al.), etc. – Johnson takes a much different approach to using the Big Easy as a setting. She intertwines the storyline around the events of one of America’s most horrific natural disasters: Hurricane Katrina.

 

 

 

The storyline is a solid one that will entertain any paranormal fantasy fan – excellent pacing, strong character development, knotty plot, and truly funny humor that can only be described as über-snark.

 

But it’s the brutally realistic – historic – setting that sets this novel above and beyond most paranormal fantasy storylines. The widespread devastation of Katrina and its aftermath as a backdrop add an undeniable power and intensity to this narrative. Here are just a few examples:

 

“If normal hurricane frenzy ranked five on a scale of one to ten, Katrina hysteria had ratcheted up to fifty in the past twenty-four hours. Friday, it had been a minor storm headed for Florida. Now it was a monster hurtling straight for us.”

 

“I woke to stillness, a new New Orleans reality. Birds no longer sang in the trees; they’d either flown off in their own hurricane evacuation or been blown to Ohio. The streetcar lines had been destroyed, so no sounds of rumbling metal broke the quiet. River traffic hadn’t resumed, so no foghorns boomed through the riverside neighborhoods. The evacuation hadn’t been lifted, so little traffic moved on the streets. The soundtrack that ran behind life in New Orleans had fallen silent.”

 

 

FYI: The sequel to Royal Street, entitled River Road, is scheduled to hit bookshelves in November!

 

 

Paul Goat Allen has been a full-time book reviewer specializing in genre fiction for the last two decades and has written thousands of reviews for companies like Publishers Weekly, The Chicago Tribune, Kirkus Reviews, and BarnesandNoble.com. He is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. 

 

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Comments
by cubicleblindnessKM on ‎04-13-2012 05:57 PM

Gets my vote too! I loved Royal Street, recommended it to all my friends.

by kimba88 on ‎04-14-2012 01:44 AM

loved your review and totally agree!