Royal Street

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RoyalStreet

As a Louisiana native, I have a special interest in books set in Louisiana.  So here’s a book that’s set in Louisiana, AND revolves around Hurricane Katrina, AND has magic and supernatural creatures.  This should be a smorgasbord of awesome, right?  Well, no.

The book starts off a couple of days before Hurricane Katrina makes landfall in New Orleans.  We meet DJ and Gerald, two wizards that basically police the supernatural community in Louisiana.  It’s decided that one of them should evacuate as a safety precaution, and Gerald, as the senior of the pair, decides DJ will be the one to evacuate.  She does so reluctantly, and then is stuck outside the city when Katrina hits and floods the city.  The wizard council of Elders contacts her, informs her that Gerald has gone missing, and that she has to return to New Orleans and take up the role as head wizard – aka sentinel – in the area.

Back in New Orleans, DJ encounters many problems.  The most obvious are the hurricane aftermath: security checkpoints, flooding, no electricity, etc.  But there is also supernatural trouble brewing.  The low pressure from the storm punched holes through the barrier between our world and the supernatural, and supernatural beings have started crossing into New Orleans.

The ghostly/undead pirate Jean Lafitte has a grudge against DJ.  The new partner assigned to her, Alex, seems to blow hot and cold and has an obsession with weapons.  DJ is trying to figure out what happened to Gerald, while both Alex and the Elders think he’s turned turncoat.  And DJ is an idiot.  No, seriously.  Her stupidity was one of my biggest gripes with the book.  I’ll go into detail in the Spoiler section.

Alex, Jean Lafitte, and Jake – Alex’s cousin – are all presented as interests to DJ.  She finds them all attractive, even the undead/ghost Jean Lafitte.  Even though Lafitte is old, a murderer, and doesn’t belong in our world according to the Elders. She’s defensive and mentally tags men as sexist, but she herself ogles and stereotypes guys herself.  Ultimately, she comes across as a stupid, hormone-driven teenage girl instead of an adult wizard in an import, respectable position.

It’s unfortunate that DJ is such an idiot lemming, because the rest of the book has so much potential that you can see the possible greatness, and almost forgive the author for making the hero someone you want to strangle; almost, but not quite.  The idea of supernatural and regular people living in two parallel realms, separated by a barrier that’s policed by wizards is a neat idea.  I like the idea of historical figures being powered by memory, and I like the the different factions of wizard magic/society.  Hurricane Katrina was handled respectfully, but even there potential was missed.

For me, the saving grace of the book was really the Louisiana setting and Hurricane Katrina.  I like that the setting mattered and was utilized, instead of being a story that could’ve been anywhere but just happened to be in New Orleans.  As I said, Hurricane Katrina was respectfully handled, and as I read those parts, I liked to think that they’d help non-locals reading the book to better understand what happened and how we felt.

In short, if you like stuff set in Louisiana and/or can tolerate nonsensical romantic elements, you may enjoy this book.  If you do not like stuff set in Louisiana and hate nonsensical romance, you may want to steer clear.

Rating: 5.5/10

SpoilerAlert

Jean Lafitte shows up at DJ’s house and attacks her.  He actually fires his gun at some point.  Later, DJ tries to insist that Lafitte wouldn’t have actually killed her, that she was more useful to him alive, or some such nonsense; to be honest, I didn’t pay much attention.  The reasoning given was dumb, and felt like an excuse by the author to make DJ’s ogling of someone that attacked her seem OK.  But it’s not.  It’s really not.  Then, if that wasn’t bad enough, after Lafitte attacks her and Alex makes it clear that she’s not very good at keeping herself alive, she sends Alex off on a wild goose chase so she can go confront Lafitte.  On his turf.  Surrounded by his men.  WTF?  At this point I was hoping someone would stab her with a sword, because she deserved it.

And Jake.  What the hell?  They don’t want to explain the whole magic/supernatural thing to him because they don’t “want to involve him,” but they sent the ghost of Louis Armstrong to live with him!  And naturally he charged into a dangerous situation, ignorant to the full danger thanks to DJ and Alex, and gotten bitten by a werewolf.  Bravo.  I hope DJ and Alex feel like asses.

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