Reviewed by: Jo
Rating (out of 5): 4 stars
Set pre- and post-Hurricane Katrina, Royal Street follows Drusilla ‘DJ’ Jaco, wizard and junior Sentinel of New Orleans. Along with her boss and mentor Gerry, it’s DJ’s job to protect the city from preternatural creatures straying from the Beyond. Frustrated with being given the easy assignments, DJ feels ready to step into the magical big leagues—that is until the hurricane hits and everything changes.
Ordered to evacuate by Gerry, DJ returns to find the city devastated, the barrier between our world and the Beyond critically weakened and Gerry missing. Though she wants her first priority to be finding her mentor, the wizard council she works for reminds her that her allegiance should be to her Sentinel duties. Namely investigating a spate of murders that suggest a voodoo element and securing Beyond breeches. Tasked with a new (infuriating) partner in the form of enforcer Alex, DJ sets out to solve the murders and uncover the truth about Gerry. As she delves deeper, she will be pitted against gods, forge unlikely allegiances and uncover information that changes everything she thought she knew.
I’m not going to lie; Royal Street has me super excited. The sheer vastness of the world building means the potential for where this series could go is huge. While the main focus in this series opener is the various factions of wizards, their separate abilities and hierarchy, there are mentions of vampires, weres, Fae and many, many more. I found the concept of the Beyond fascinating. Not only is it the realm most preternaturals inhabit, it is also where the dead roam. The more a person is remembered by the living the more power they wield in the Beyond after death. This makes for some very interesting cameos.
As a main character DJ really worked for me. I found her very relatable and liked that she wasn’t badass straight away. She’s resourceful and eager to prove herself, but the journey she goes on in Royal Street forces her to her limits, to make mistakes and learn some hard truths. Much like the world building, there is a lot of room for growth when it comes to DJ and I’m really looking forward to seeing what sort of character she becomes.
It isn’t all about the potential though, as Royal Street on its own has a fast moving plot, filled with twists and mystery. The action sequences in particular were so vividly written, I could almost see them playing out in my mind like a film. The descriptions of post Katrina New Orleans were extensive and poignant, but done in a way that it felt there was great respect for the city in the writing. There was a romantic aspect, even the possibility of a triangle, which I actually liked. There’s no insta-love, it’s attraction based and with DJ’s world changing so much, it felt plausible and real to me that she would be unsure how to feel.
Royal Street has all the promising signs of a fantastic urban fantasy series (including, but not limited to, 18th century pirates, which are always a plus in my book). I can’t wait to pick the next in the series!
Sexual content: Kissing, references to sex