Royal Street by Suzanne Johnson is the best kind of urban fantasy. It seamlessly blends the post-Katrina setting of New Orleans with the presence of wizards, shapeshifters and historical figures who cross back into this world.
DJ is a Green Congress Wizard and an apprentice sentinel in New Orleans. When the storm hits, her mentor Gerry sends her to safety. She waits out the storm at her grandmother’s only to learn that Gerry has disappeared and she has been appointed acting sentinel.
The Elders send an enforcer named Alex to be her partner and all kinds of sparks begin to fly. There is someone killing people and leaving voodoo paraphernalia at the crime scenes. The houses of wizards are marked with other voodoo signs. DJ and Alex have to discover where Gerry went, send back magical creatures that have crossed weakened borders into New Orleans while staying out of the way of somebody who seems to have made wizards their target.
Suzanne hits a perfect note with the relationship between DJ and Alex. There is an immediate heat between them that is only matched by how good they are at irritating each other. When Alex’s cousin is added in along with an undead pirate who has his own plans for DJ and things get very interesting.
She also creates a believable system on which to base her fantasy elements. There are magical creatures who live in the Beyond and are summoned into our world or cross through weak spots. The sentinels are the ones who maintain the boundaries. Several kinds of wizards are hinted at. DJ is Green Congress while Gerry is Red. The differences are logical and fit neatly with the plot.
The hurricane ravaged city of New Orleans is a major part of the story. Suzanne works with her setting in an empathetic and respectful manner, but she stays away from too much pathos or politics. Instead she just presents the city as it is and allows DJ to mourn the damage.
I would heartily recommend this book to anyone.
This book goes on sale April 10th.