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Monday, September 23, 2013

Charming by Elliott James

The quick version: I loved this book. I wanted to read it so badly the instant I saw it online, got crushingly rejected for an eARC on Edelweiss, but then managed to get one through Netgalley, which I promptly devoured because CHARMING is six kinds of awesome. There is outstanding worldbuilding, intricate and well-paced plotting, and a host of characters you will instantly engage with (love 'em or hate 'em).

The long version: There's something extra delicious about a début author. You really don't know what you're going to get. In the case of CHARMING and the Pax Arcana, you get an interesting new urban fantasy world filled with Knights Templar, vampires, Valkyries, bar fights, dresniks, and damsels who may or may not be in distress. There's a love triangle of sorts but it's not the focus of the story. Instead, you spend the pages of CHARMING getting to know one of my favourite new UF protagonists, John, an immortal half-werewolf raised by the Knights Templar to be a monster hunter until they realized he was indeed supernatural. Now, they want him dead because, you know, abomination and all that. And even though John's in hiding, he's still forced to protect the world from dangerous supernaturals thanks to a geas put on him as a Knight as part of the Pax Arcana.

John does tortured hero very well but he's not the brooding type, thank goodness. He definitely has a grudge against the Knights Templar -- and with good reason -- but he doesn't let that stop him from doing what's right, even though getting the Knights' attention is the last thing he needs or wants. Plus, CHARMING wouldn't be much of a story if John took off the moment things got dangerous so it's good that he sticks around and gets sorely abused for his sense of duty.

The rest of the characters are just as interesting as John. Sig, the blonde who walks into the bar in the first chapter, is more than she seems and he knows it. She's a smart, capable woman and I loved her interactions with John. From the first, they are equals and their encounters are very interesting. Sig brings with her a motley crew and I was quite fond of half of them. You're not really supposed to like the other ones so don't feel bad for the instant dislike you'll feel for some of her team. :) Perhaps the best character in the book is the villain. I won't say much but I will say that this character has a big, menacing vision and it felt like the stakes (vampire pun!) were substantial and real. Plus, smart folks make the best villains since you know that things are going to be challenging for the good guys.

James also does a great job of creating a sense of place in CHARMING. I love the series mythology he's developed. The Pax Arcana is a really cool idea and I'm very curious to see how it plays out in future stories. I also love how he's incorporated real world history, like the Knights Templar and the Crusaders, and shaped them to form the magical background for the series. There's a lot of potential for growth and surprises and I can't wait to see what and who else John will encounter.

It's been a while since I've read a book that truly captured my attention from the first page the way CHARMING did. You will be full of the feels as you read this novel and your last feeling is going to be sadness because you won't be ready to let go of these characters when you hit the final page. James is a strong new voice in urban fantasy and I can't wait to read John Charming's next adventure. Definitely my favourite début of the year!

P.S. Love the t-shirt on the cover! I didn't notice the cross until after I finished the book. This is a damn fine cover. :)

Read an excerpt


Tynga is a 32 years old mom of two, from Montreal, working as a lab technician in an hospital specialized in heart disease. In her free time, she enjoys reading all things Paranormal and photography.

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3 People left their mark' :

  1. I've seen this book floating around and it definitely sounds interesting. I like all the elements that it has. Got to be honest though, what snags my attention the most is the cover. It is a "damn fine cover".
    Kristin @ Book Sniffers Anonymous

  2. Yes! My thoughts exactly! I loved this book and definitely want more John.

  3. It is an excellent cover. So eye catching! I really love the details on it. Thanks for commenting!