Charming (Pax Arcana #1)
By Elliott James
Expected Publication September 24th, 2013
Orbit / Hachette
Source: Orbit (via NetGalley) in exchange for an unbiased review – Thank you!
About the Book:
John Charming isn’t your average Prince…
He comes from a line of Charmings — an illustrious family of dragon slayers, witch-finders and killers dating back to before the fall of Rome. Trained by a modern day version of the Knights Templar, monster hunters who have updated their methods from chainmail and crossbows to kevlar and shotguns, he was one of the best. That is — until he became the abomination the Knights were sworn to hunt.
That was a lifetime ago. Now, he tends bar under an assumed name in rural Virginia and leads a peaceful, quiet life. One that shouldn’t change just because a vampire and a blonde walked into his bar… Right?
Soooo close…. but not quite there. Damn, this could have been a four star review. It could have been sooooo good! John could have been my new Harry! But it juuuuust missed outside (that’s baseball talk for you non-sports nuts or if you hate baseball movie quotes when they’re not quoted literally… but I digress).
I loved the premise. There’s so much history and mystery surrounding the Knights Templar. How cool and intriguing to spin a new take on them. That within this secret group of monster hunters are the descendants of Prince Charming himself. And the Charmings hiers are really the best of the best when it comes to monster hunting. So why wasn’t I completely floored by this new series? One word: lukewarm.
John Charming, our protagonist and narrator for this tale, is a conflicted man. On one hand, he’s smart, skilled, and quick with the wit. On the other, he’s been dealt a bad hand in life and has some werewolf in him. For just that small percentage of werewolf in him, he’s become hunted by his own brethren. So in hiding he goes.
I really enjoyed his voice and humor. His humor wasn’t over the top like a certain male druid tends to get. It pretty much stayed at one line zingers. But they were pretty funny!
Where I became a little disappointed in John was how quickly he fell for his love interest, Sig. How quickly he gave up on hiding. I think maybe it’s because I never connected with Sig and felt their chemistry. Was it because I was only seeing it from the guy’s POV? Perhaps… Or maybe we just need a wee bit more fleshing out of Sig.
Speaking of other characters, despite my lack of total love for the “leads” in this story, the supporting characters more than made up for it! My favorite? Praise the Lord, it’s Molly (if you read the book, you’ll get what I mean)!!! Anyone who wears winter jackets and Christmas sweaters to make themselves happy when they’re dealing with the big uglies and need to be reminded of happy times is A-OKAY in my book!! As a matter of fact, I think I’ll go year round in a Halloween costume and expect everyone to give me chocolate. It could work, you never know….
Story / Tempo
As I was reading this story, there were just a few times I actually could have put the book down and walked away. But wait, I HAVE been in a new adult / YP stupor as of late so temper that statement a wee bit.
But John does pontificate a wee bit too much. It’s almost as if he goes on about something (describes something), hits that magic mark where it’s just enough of detail, and then he overshoots that mark a bit. I found myself skipping some of this stuff where I normally don’t do that when I read. I like to get the entire picture of what the author wrote, not the Cliff Notes.
But I will tell you, at 46% through the book, I bawled my eyes out like a teenager in the third row of a Duran Duran concert (or insert your favorite boy band). If I hadn’t hit this amazing gem of a sub plot to the story, I would have missed out on a pretty cool book overall.
Remember folks, 3.5 stars are not bad books! Still means I liked it!!!
If you haven’t read Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files or Kevin Hearne’s The Iron Druid Chronicle, this might be a great place if you want to get into reading urban fantasy with a male protagonist. I, unfortunately, kept comparing John Charming to Harry Dresden and Atticus O’Sullivan.
I’m going to have to give it another book to see if John Charming can come through for me next time around. And I’m not giving up on this series!!!
Other Books in the Series: