Reviewed by: Amy
Rating (out of 5): 3.5 stars
In Elliott James’s Charming the world is under a magical spell called the Pax Arcana, which prevents regular humans from being able to “see, believe, or even seriously consider any evidence of the supernatural that is not an immediate threat to their survival.”
Enter the Knights Templar, who sort of police the supernatural world. If a certain supernatural faction starts to behave in a violent manner that could get them noticed, the Knights step in and deal with the problem. John Charming is descended from a line of these knights. He was brought up being taught that vampires, werewolves, faeries, elves, etc. were all monsters in their own way. Until one day when John’s “curse” woke up and labeled him as being part monster. He was immediately ousted from the Knights and now is the one being hunted. Things are going okay for John right now, that is until a beautiful blonde walks into the bar he works at, shortly followed by a vampire.
Charming moves along at a relatively quick pace, but be warned there are times when John would go on a world-building tangent in the middle of a fight scene or something similar and these tangents could get a bit long winded. If you can make it past all the descriptions (or if that’s your cup of tea), I ended up really liking Elliott James’ take on the supernatural.
Honestly, though, with the whole Prince Charming thing referenced in the synopsis I was expecting more of a twist on the classic fairy tales. Maybe that is a direction the series will go towards in the future, but Charming is all urban fantasy. John ends up joining forces with a group of vampire slayers, including the beautiful blonde, to help them take out an overzealous vampire trying to become Queen of her hive. During the investigation, however, it becomes more and more apparent that within this group vampires may not be the only thing John has to worry about.
It’s rare for me to read a first-person narrative told from the male perspective, but John’s voice is very clear and wry. He’s a very straight-to-the-point character and I really liked that especially when it comes to the potential romantic relationship with Sig (beautiful blonde). They form an immediate connection, and John is pretty quick to tell her how he feels even though there are complications coming from both sides. He has issues to work out concerning the Knights and Sig is currently in an unhealthy relationship. So these two are definitely not ready to get together, but sometimes I like a slow build up to a relationship, one that can take a few books before it happens. I always feel more rewarded in the end.
Overall, when I first read the synopsis I was very interested and the book definitely didn’t let me down. James leaves things off with a very promising ending. I’m hoping he’ll take a less conventional path for our characters, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see. If you are looking for more in the Pax Arcana world, James has a series of five short story ebooks set prior to events in Charming. At the time of writing this review Charmed I’m Sure is the first one released with others to follow.
Sexual content: Kissing, references to sex