Royal Street – Book review

In Royal Street, author Suzanne Johnson introduces us to an unexpected vision of post-Katrina New Orleans. Seen through the eyes of the junior wizard sentinel of New Orleans, Drusilla Jaco, the familiar landscape and the story of Katrina’s destruction are imbued with magic.

DJ, as Drusilla prefers to be called, experiences the storm and its destruction in many of the ways we all did. Sure, she was able to secure her windows with a spell before evacuating, but upon her return, she begins the process of recovery—which includes searching for her mentor, Gerry St. Simon, and stepping into his shoes as New Orleans’ wizard sentinel.

This unexpected promotion includes a new partner, an enforcer from the FBI’s preternatural branch named Alexander Warin. Together, they must deal with breaches all over the city, as the historic dead return from beyond the grave to cavort in their beloved New Orleans again. This brings DJ and Alex into close proximity with Jean Lafitte, Louis Armstrong and Marie Laveau, among others.

One of Johnson’s biggest talents is ensuring that this full story never feels too busy or rushed. Post-Katrina New Orleans is used here as a clever backdrop for the fantastic and magical elements that she renders as authentic as the city’s geography. The clichéd elements and famous people that appear in so much fiction about New Orleans are used here in genre-appropriate ways and with a genuine fondness for the Crescent City that drenches every page.

Working at Tulane University, the author was a longtime New Orleans resident before moving back to her native Alabama after Katrina. Royal Street arrives in stores April 10 and is the first in a planned series that continues this fall with River Road.