Review: In Shining Armor by Elliott James (Pax Arcana #4)


In Shining Armor by Elliott James // VBC ReviewIn Shining Armor (Pax Arcana #4)
Elliott James
Published: Apr. 26, 2016 (Orbit)
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon
Review source: copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

Reviewed by: Margaret

Rating (out of 5): 3 stars

Note: While review will be spoiler free, it does make reference to previous books. If you haven’t started this series yet, check out VBC’s review of book 1, Charming.

John Charming’s goddaughter has been kidnapped. She, like John, is part Knight Templar and part werewolf and her birth was the impetus behind a new, but shaky alliance between the two groups. Her abduction has both sides pointing fingers and John stuck in the middle. To get her back, he’ll have to make the knights and the wolves cooperate long enough to infiltrate another dimension. But that’s just part one of four. Each time John and company defeat one foe, they discover another, each step bringing them closer to revealing a much larger conspiracy.

At the end of each part there’s a Bond villain-type explanation, though it’s usually given by John and not the villain, of what they discovered and a filling in of blanks before moving on to the next location and the next adversary. Perhaps it was that structure that made me feel like it was a long, slow slog through the book. It may also just be that I didn’t realize how long the book was until after I’d finished it.

I always get excited about new or re-invented supernatural creatures. In Shining Armor really delivers on that front. There are skinwalkers, nixies, rusalka, golems, and a lot more that might be spoilery to mention. Plus, there’s John’s girlfriend the Valkyrie who’s not only a major badass, but she also does some really cool things with her magic. I did wish that the initial baddies had a different name though. The dalaketnons sounded too much like daleks in my head, which was not even close to the right image.

John’s self-deprecating tone has always reminded me of Charley Davidson. (The humorous chapter headings help the comparison as well.) I still enjoyed his narration, but I never really felt emotionally invested in this story. It’s like an okay action movie where you enjoy the fight scenes and the explosions, but you never really care about the characters.

I do care about John and Sig though, having been through three other books with them. This story has a more serious tone than the previous one since John is working with the knights rather than his usual ragtag bunch. I did miss the usual crew, though we get an update about them at the end.

In Shining Armor could work as a standalone. (I’ve seen it referred to as one somewhere.) It makes lots of references to characters and events from previous books though. Most are general enough, but some would be pretty big spoilers if you planned to pick up book one later.

I’ve really enjoyed the Pax Arcana series, but this book might be my least favorite. The action scenes are incredible. (I especially loved Sig’s!) I liked the variety of new creatures and locations John encountered along the way. I thought all the new details about John’s backstory and the knights in general were interesting. I just never really cared about the mission and I wasn’t convinced that John did either. He kept saying he was only there to find and punish the people who had taken Constance, rather than trying to stop a war between the knights and the wolves, or simply to do what was right. And isn’t that what a knight in shining armor should have been doing?

Sexual content: kissing, references to sex

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