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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 15 November 2013
Caroline for [...]
Copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

The first book in the Pax Arcana series, Charming, Introduces us to John Charming, a modern day Templar night trained from infancy, and compelled by his very DNA, to destroy any creature which interrupts the Pax Arcana, a glamour which prevent mortals like you and I witnessing, registering or remembering paranormal activity. When we first meet John he is bitter, bereaved, lonely, and suffering from a major identity crisis.

Before long, Charming isn't so lonely anymore. Adopted by an eclectic group of monster hunters (imagine a multi cultural, less sexually ambiguous, but infinitely more kick arse, Scooby Gang), John is physically and ethically compelled to help them wipe out the threat posed by a recently turned- IQ off the charts-seventeen year old vampire, intent on world domination. Plus it certainly won't hurt his attempts to get in to the statuesque Daphne's errr I mean Sig's pants.

The bulk of the store was told in John's first person, past tense recollection of events, but with plausible and informative present tense asides to the reader, which further informed the world building. I loved Johns voice. It was snarky and self deprecating and amusing. The 400 pages flew by in an amusing and action packed blur.

Verdict: Fast paced and Fun.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 31 October 2013
John Charming, bartender, comes from a long line of Charmings. A family of dragon slayers, witch finders and killers that dates back to before the fall of Rome. The Pax Arcana was created by the elves before they left, it protects supernatural beings from being seen by humans. The Pax wasn't the only thing the elves created. They created the Knights. Each country has their own little faction of the Knights, you could say John was trained by a modern day version of the Knights Templar. Although the Knights didn't really have a choice about becoming what they where, a certain plague took care of that, their children automatically become a part of the order. John however, is an abomination, one that the Knights are sworn to hunt. He's part werewolf. Minus the changing. With the Knights out to kill him, he tends to be on the run, but now he's working in a bar in a quiet town. Until a blonde and a vampire walk in to his bar. The vampire's are up to something, and it's nothing good. You see they have a new leader, a smart and viscous leader who has a plan. The question is....what is it?

It's rare that I find a book to read that is from a male point of view and has a male protagonist that I actually enjoy. Charming has a a lot of very intricate and unique mythology different to other books of a similar nature and quite a few pages are dedicated to the mythology of each creature we meet as we meet it. There's not just the usual suspects of supernatural books vampires, werewolves ghosts etc there's a whole host of different types that some you've heard of and some you haven't, all explained in a lot of detail. Sig for example is a Valkyrie so you've even got some Norse myth thrown in there too. John, the protagonist, is very witty and very funny and added an edge of humour to the book that would have you chuckling quietly to yourself.

I wouldn't describe it as hard to put down, but it is fairly absorbing. Charming also has the "guy likes girl. Girl likes guy. Girl is with another guy" situation that I don't really like to have in stories because it's annoying, but this one was differet because the girl isn't in love with two guys, she's only with the guy because she's got issues of the Daddy variety and had a rivalry with his previous partner.Each character however, was unique, not only with their powers, but with their personality and attitude. Sig for example could see and speak to ghosts, that's how she knew more than she was letting on at times, especially how she knew more about John.

The back story for John was slowly released, and it was an interesting one, what with the whole fiancee thing, he wasn't a perfect character who was blindingly happy all the time and had never been hurt. He had flaws and his past especially with Allison gave him a very real quality and humanized him as a character to the audience. The characters where well written, as well as the imagery and the story. The characters, particularly John and Sig come out with some of the best one liners I've seen; "I'm going to shove a cellphone so far up your ass that you're going to be burping ringtones"

"This means my soul isn't being eaten up by some supernatural cancer. This means i'm not a coward for not finding a way to commit suicide years ago" This book is gritty, it's not full of rainbows and unicorns...or atleast there's been no unicorn sightings so far. The character of John has been taught to hate who and what he is or atleast a part of himself by the Knights for years and years, and he knows it's stupid to hate that part of himself but some part of him is still repulsed by it because it's what he's been taught. You can see his struggle multiple times in the story, the most obvious being the statement that he was too much of a coward to kill himself. He was taught to hate who he was and he knew he should have killed himself because he was an abomination, but he could never do it because he knows there's nothing wrong with him deep down.

Sig isn't a perfect character either, she's had an equally emotional and gritty life before, her mother regretting having her, her mother's mood swings and bizaare stages that she kept going through and not telling Sig what she was. Treating Sig's powers like "they where some kind of demon curse and made a big deal about hiding them."
She had a tough life and upbringing like John, which is part of the reason they're so connected to each other I think. I'm so used to reading books about characters with perfect lives, families, homes, and no problems that it was a different experience for me to read a book with characters who've had horrible lives. "I thought she hated me because I was a freak, but now I think she hated me because she envied me"

The book is full of action, there's so many actions scenes I lost count, there's a tiny bit of romance, and there's lots of supernatural mythology and lore explained in great detail. The book's gritty, and quite coarse sometimes, if you're looking for a cute little book with romance this isn't it. The book was hard to get into and could be fast paced but at times I struggled to continue to read. It was a good read, but nothing outstanding.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 21 December 2013
I found this book to be a little too simplistic, too good guy always wins and without the big twist it really needed. I liked the concept, the charming knights but for me the Pax arcana didn't work as an idea as I just didn't buy into these knights only protecting the limbo. That said it was good to see some mythology beyond vampires and werewolves (although both are big parts of the stories), Also the love story I found to be lame. All in all it entertained enough for me to finish but I won't be buying the next.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 1 November 2013
Don't be put off by the title, Charming is one of those gems that you come across once in a while. I read a lot of urban fantasy and I like the fact that Elliot James has managed to not only create a realistic world but also has fully fleshed out charectors ... which is a nice change. the Naga all about knowledge, an ex-priest who probably derserves her own series. John Charming has issues, great big slobbering issues, but he isn't superman and can't kill all the bad guys with a way of his hand. he has human failings but with supernatural ability. The story is paced out so not everything happens in a few chapters but builds at a nice pace, enough that i read it one sitting!, there are twists and turns. This is an original story, the kind that you read and think I wanted him to do that! I would give Charming 5 out of 5.Can't wait for the next one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
An unusual and fun type of Urban Fantasy that brings a wonderful touch to the fore as the world of Fae-rie tale and our own collide in this new book by Elliott James. The principle character is a lot of fun, is witty, has some sarcastic moments and when the reader gets to know him sees the vulnerable side brought to the fore as he fears not only what he is but events from his past catching up.

The story has some great twists, brings other outsiders into a cohesive group as well as giving the reader a team that they just can't wait to spend time with. All in a great start and I definitely look forward to seeing how the "Knights" will cope with one of their own returning.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 10 December 2013
This kind of fantasy I don't normally read but I liked the basic premise of this story and the promise of a more grown up, sarcastic protagonist of the various teen vampire stuff.
That is exactly what I bought. But to further that the writing was sharp, witty and tight, the characters rounded with back stories and plausible actions and growth. This is more in the too cool Buffy/Angel for adults kind of class rather than a teen angst of Twilight. Clever, readable and great characters - would certainly read a sequal.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 8 November 2013
This book was enormous fun to read and a treat for the urban fantasy fan.

John Charming is a supernatural creature - part werewolf and part trained monster hunter. He is being hunted himself and is trying to keep a low profile when he becomes involved with Sig and her group of strange and often troubled friends and joins with them to overcome a new vampire threat. In the process, he discovers a lot about himself and has a new awareness of who he is.

This book is written in the first person and directed straight at the reader who John addresses from time to time. He has a wry and sarcastic humour and I found that the narrative style really enhanced the book for me. It also provides the opportunity for the author to disclose the information needed to understand the world that he has created and the various creatures that inhabit it. The author has thought a lot about the different types of creatures, their characteristics, how they interact and why ordinary humans can't see them and this preparation shows in the book which all hangs together in a coherent way.

The success of the novel is about more than just the world building, however, and Elliott James creates some fascinating and engaging characters - I was especially fond of Sig and Molly. The good guys are not always good and have mixed motives although the bad guys are pretty unsympathetic. John experiences a lot of character development throughout the story and there were times when I thought that he was having a few too many revelations about the reasons for his behaviour and Sig was having too great an effect on him for someone he hadn't known very long but when you overcome this it is a delight to see characters learn and change within a book.

Although enjoyable, this book is not completely original. Those of us who have read a lot of urban fantasy will be able to trace ideas from other authors and the whole book reminds me a lot of the Iron Druid books by Kevin Hearne. If you like books by Hearne or Jim Butcher or Patricia Briggs then I think that you will enjoy this one.

A very enjoyable read. I received this book free in exchange for an honest review - I shall buy the next one for myself as soon as it becomes available.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 21 July 2014
An unusual take on the vampire hunter theme, loved its quirky sense of humor. Although this story deals with quite a dark theme there is plenty of humour and no gratuitous violence or any swearing was noticed. Well written and fast paced, held my attention to the end and left me wanting more.
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on 9 December 2013
*ARC given by Net Gallery*

I really liked the sound of this, that it was different to normal fairy tale stories and was something different and new. Even thorough I found it interesting and entertaining in parts, I found that it was slow, that there where was a lot of parts that seemed to drag a little.

I liked John and I liked that it stayed in his POV and was interesting seeing the world in his eyes and his intake on things. I liked Sig too i thought she was funny and a strong independent woman.

overall I was surprised with this and did enjoy it, and would read other material from this author.
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on 10 September 2015
Enjoyed the start of this new series. Liked the world that Elliot has put together. Thought he jumped a bit too fast into things without taking the time and space to let his reader figure out how this existence works, but will definitely read the rest of the them with interest.
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