Review: Charming by Elliott James

October 6, 2013 4 stars, Book Review 27 ★★★★½

Review: Charming by Elliott JamesCharming by Elliott James
Series: Pax Arcana #1
Published by Orbit Books on September 24, 2013
Genres: Adult SFF, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 400
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
My Reviews in this series: Daring

*This book was provided by the Publisher for review. No compensation was provided and all opinions are strictly my own.

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?


​​​​Written in a tone of smart-ass sass, Charming is packed with action and a whole lot of lip!

Rationality is king, and the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes. ~pg 10

It read like it was written just for me, in a style that was talking to the reader, pulling you into this world and educating you about the reality of it at the same time. I think the style in which this story is told will either immediately click with the reader or put them off completely.

It’s as if John Charming it talking to you personally, telling you his story and explaining things about the world and its inhabitants. Some readers might think this to be an “info-dump” style but I didn’t get that feeling at all.  There is an art to packaging information to a reader and like all art it’s in the eye of the beholder. For me what Elliott James did here worked perfectly. Normally I’m not a fan of ‘info-dumping’ but I could sense there was a reason and method to the style he was using. In a way I felt like I was a monster hunter in training while reading.

There’s a reason that we refer to being in love as being enchanted. Think back to the worst relationship you’ve ever been in: the one where your family and friends tried to warn you that the person you were with was cheating on you, or partying a little too much, or a control freak, or secretly gay, or whatever. Remember how you were convinced that no one but you could see the real person beneath that endearingly flawed surface? And then later, after the relationship reached that scorched-earth-policy stage where letters were being burned and photos were being cropped, did you find yourself looking back and being amazed a how obvious the truth had been all along? Did it feel as if you were waking up from some kind of spell? ~pg 1

I can tell you now John Charming has a personality that I can’t imagine anyone not liking. He is funny but sincere and his mouth gets him into a lot of trouble. But he also has an uncanny ability of diffusing situations. I have to admit what I loved most about this was his sense of humor.

A few feet above the ground I grabbed hold of the nylon and pulled myself upward to create a little slack, then flipped to my feet with ninja-like efficiency.

Or maybe I hit the ground between the pit and the tunnel on my shoulder because my foot caught in the cord when I tried to roll, and then I spent a few seconds flopping around like a fish who’d somehow managed to get a hook caught in its spine.

I forget which. ~pg 316

He’s the descendant of an order of Knights that are blood sworn to protect the Pax Arcana, a spell that keeps humans from realizing there really are mythical creatures in the world. He also happens to be half werewolf and all the other knights want to kill him because they don’t want their order and blood lines tainted with anything paranormal. So naturally he is on the run. Somehow his cover is blown and he falls in with a group of monster hunting vigilantes. John can’t help getting attached – could it be a pretty face?  I really adored this cast of characters…well not all of them, but all of the ones I’m meant to like, I did. They had really unique personalities and meshed so well together as a team. Which is great because there is a pack a nasty vampires on the loose and these folks need to pull it together and take them out.

Popular young adult novels notwithstanding, vampires only sparkle when they burn. ~pg 11

Charming isn’t only the start to a great new urban fantasy but it has enough of a mix of action and romance in it that I think both female and male readers will enjoy. I’m not personally a fan of the cover or the tag line on this one and if you aren’t either just look past that and pick the book up regardless – you’ll definitely get a few good chuckles out of it.

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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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27 Responses to “Review: Charming by Elliott James”

    • Pabkins

      I’m so glad! Yes I know the cover will probably turn a lot of people off. Plus that sword isn’t even the kind of weapon he uses! They made a terrible mistake I think with that awful tag line. But I have already grabbed all the short stories because I seriously liked this book!
      Pabkins recently posted…Review: Charming by Elliott JamesMy Profile

    • Pabkins

      Thanks I hope you do give it a try. I really don’t favor the cover and I think the tag line is awful, it doesn’t give the reader an accurate impression of the book at all. But the story of of it you will like it I think.
      Pabkins recently posted…Review: Charming by Elliott JamesMy Profile

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      Oh yeah? I keep meaning to read Hounded. I met Kevin Hearne at WorldCon a few weeks ago and he is an awesome guy. I will definitely get to it before the end of the year. I like hearing that it’s funny! This would definitely be an excellent audio one …I hope anyway.

  1. Cali W.

    Great review! Dragon Slayers and his last name is Charming too cute I say! 😉

    • Pabkins

      Sweet!! I can’t wait to hear what you think. Remember the “info dump” parts have a reason for being there. I didn’t even think of them as dumps because I found it all so awesome, like he’s talking straight to you
      Pabkins recently posted…Review: Charming by Elliott JamesMy Profile

  2. Jaime Lester

    I am looking past the not so great cover, to the great premise and your review. This sounds like a fantastic book for this girl. Especially if we have sass and smart-assery! I will absolutely be looking into this one, no doubt about it!

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      Yes yes yes! He’s definitely a guy you’ll like Jaime! I am looking forward to reading the short stories that are available as ebooks. Those covers are way better than this one! There are three of them.

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      Oh yeah – the cover and tag line just kind of throw you off. He really isn’t a “prince” at all – I think you’ll really like it Danny!

  3. Charleen

    Hmm, I haven’t had a ton of luck clicking with urban fantasy, but maybe a male narrator is what I need to give it another try. How’s the ending? I know you say it’s the start of a series but can it stand alone?
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    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      Personally, I have been starting quite a few ‘series’ by reading the first books and never going any further. I think this is a good new urban fantasy and I definitely WILL go further. But I think if you are one of those that is fine as long as the book itself contains one adventure and are fine and satisfied with that then yes I think you would be fine with reading just the one. No there are no cliffhangers.

      • Charleen

        That’s good. Even if I don’t really connect with a book and therefore shouldn’t really care… it still nags at me when the book ends in a way where you really feel like you have to continue.
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