Sunday, September 29, 2013

Review: Charming by Elliott James

Charming by Elliott James
Book One of the Pax Arcana series
Publisher: Orbit
Publication Date: September 24, 2013
Rating: 3 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley

Summary (from Goodreads):

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?

What I Liked:

Read the summary. Doesn't this book just SOUND awesome?! Paranormal fiction with a tiny bit of history involved... I was all over this one on NetGalley. And look at the COVER! That wonderful, long sword, curling typography, and smoky background just make a fabulous cover. Am I right?!

I must say, the action of the book lived up to the awesome cover. There was plenty of action, but also, plenty of calculation and strategy. Those are some of the things I love about John - he's shred and intelligent and rarely do his instincts lead him astray.

John has a quiet job as a bartender. He's on the down-low, not bothering anyone, minding his own business. But then, a rogue vampire and a hot non-human female walk into his bar... and things get weird. The vampire is one of many, following the lead of a queen bee vampire. The non-human female is tracking them. 

Turns out, the non-human female is a Valkyrie. Also, John is attracted to her, and vice versa. But she has a boyfriend, an astral traveler (I think that's what they're called?), and he's got a bad, NASTY attitude. Sig, the female, is part of a team, with her boyfriend, his two nephews, and a man whose name I cannot remember.

It takes a little convincing, but John agrees to help them - after he makes sure they know that he has to disappear after the hunt. The boyfriend hates John, the other guy (I think his name is Choo) likes John, Sig likes John. So, you can imagine the car rides, when they are out hunting. 

The book is in John's POV (first person), which was nice. There are no alternations in POV - it's just John. So, we get a lot of drivel and info-dumping, but it fits John. Sort of. 

I like the historical/mythological parts of this book. John is a "Charming", and he hunts the bad guys. We have vampires, Valkyries, astral travelers, humans, werewolves and more weird creatures. 

The romance is hilarious. John and Sig don't really get together, at any point in the book. Well, there is the scene at the grocery store. But Sig stays with her boyfriend (whose name I can't remember) because she feels guilty, but in the end, she and John are sort of a couple. Not really, though.

The end resolves the vampire nest problem. And John figures things out about himself. It's not the end for John and Sig,which is good, I suppose, because their relationship is really messy at the end of the book. But, the end of this book is great!

What I Did Not Like:

Hmm, I mentioned that there is a lot of drivel and info-dumping. I also said that that was okay because it fits John. But honestly, there were a lot of points in the book where I was just like, SKIP! Or SKIM! I mean, if there are whole paragraphs after whole paragraphs, I'm likely to skip some of the information and details, and move on to where there is dialogue.

Unfortunately, that's about fifty-fifty, in this book. John isn't always surrounded by people. Much of the book, he is alone. Hence, the drivel. So basically, there were points in this book where I just couldn't handle the boredom. But I muscled through this one, and I finished it.

Believe me, that wasn't always the thought in my mind - to finish this one.

In terms of the romance... while I liked that John and Sig didn't really have much of a physical relationship, I didn't like that it was all kind of unresolved in the end. I know there will be more books in this series, but really?! I'm not really liking the ambiguity.

Would I Recommend It:

I was REALLY excited about this one, and to be honest, I was let down a little, but I still would recommend it. It's a great action-filled book, with a little romance, but it's also a bit confusing, a bit dry, and a bit boring. Still, it was worth the read.


3 stars. I haven't decided yet if I want to read any of the future books in this series, but I'm sorry that I read this book!

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!


  1. Can you explain the drivel a little more? I understand that it may be a more cerebral sort of narrative because of John's solitude but I'm not sure if the drivel is more along the lines of thought tangents, funny asides and footnotes, or if they're LOTR/Fifty Shades of Grey-style history-plot dumps. I don't think I'd be able to stand it if it's the latter. Actually, reading your review over again, it sounds like it... Thank you for the review!

    1. Like, it was incessant stream of consciousness thinking, and it just came off as rambling. Info dumps and internal thought vomit were very common in this book, which was annoying, because half the time, they weren't relevant.

      Thank YOU, Ellen, for commenting so thoughtfully!

  2. Thanks for a very honest review!
    Info dump can be annoying at times, but if it's relevant information I can deal with it, if it's just random musings... not so much!
    Also, the way you have described the romance is a bit of a turn off for me.

    1. It can be! I tend to dislike books with a ton of info-dumping. The stream of consciousness thing isn't always the best. And yeah, the romance wasn't that great either. But oh well!

      Thank YOU, Pili!


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