I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Charming by Elliot James
Series: Pax Arcana #1
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Published by Orbit Books on 24 September 2013
So a blonde and a vampire walked into a bar and the bartender said… When I read the title of chapter one I groaned as it sounded like the start of a bad joke but fortunately, Charming is anything but. Our hero John Charming is not your average bartender. He comes from a long line of Charmings who apart from (one imagines) being charming, actually protect a thing called the Pax Arcana. Trouble is brewing in his neck of the woods and the sexy Valkyrie Sig persuades him to lend a hand.
John is an oddity in his world as he is half werewolf and half Knight. Ordinarily this couldn’t occur but his mother was attacked by a werewolf while heavily pregnant and John was born more than a little different. You might think that his fellow Knights would appreciate his extra abilities but they decided to hunt him down instead. John’s attempts to keep a low profile have met with limited success. You see he has a tendency to share all sorts of private information with other people even though he is supposed to be on the run. He also hangs around town even though pretty much everyone is out to get him. The burgeoning relationship between John and Sig was enjoyable to watch although the disintegration of her existing relationship was unpleasant. The sheer variety of creatures/people in his crew was a plus as James took the time to round them out. Molly was my favourite as despite the huge personal toll, she remained a steadfast friend.
The book’s greatest strength (and also its greatest weakness) is the huge amount of detail provided about supernatural beings. John knows just about everything about everything and boy does he love to share. It doesn’t matter how esoteric the creature or custom, he’s your guy. I really loved the attention to detail until it started to get in the way of the plot. Lots of this information could have been put in footnotes or in a glossary at the back so that we could focus on what was really important – saving the day and getting the girl. Heck, it could even have been leaked bit by bit over the course of several books.
The plot had lots of twists and turns and I enjoyed watching John and his crew hunt down the vampires. I realise this is pretty petty but I wanted John to have a character flaw to balance out his amazing skills at just about everything. His abilities and knowledge of the arcane were such that it was hard to believe he wouldn’t prevail. This unfortunately lessened the impact of the climax when it came.
There is a lot to like about this novel in terms of plot, characterisation and world construction. I prefer to be shown rather than told so the info dumping grated quite a bit.