Author: Elliott James
Publication Date: September 2013
Number of Pages: 400
Series: Pax Arcana
Reason for Discovery: Tabitha's review on My Shelf Confessions
This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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?
A story about about Prince Charming who is a monster hunter and Tabitha loves it (who is my book doppelganger)? Sold. In all seriousness, this was a really fun read. I liked that their are both men and women, magical folks and humans, working together to fight the Big Bad. Sometimes in urban fantasy books, you only hear about the magical beings and I get a bit frustrated because I am just a human. I want to place myself in the book too! Having purely human characters gives me characters to claim as my own.
In addition to the characters, the book's plot (not the series' Charming arc, see below) was interesting and fairly tight. In this particular book, Charming and his Scooby gang fight vampires! I thought it was fantastic that Elliott James not only had the characters do a bit of investigation and vampire fights, but also he had the gang prepare for battles! That is right! Charming and the Scooby gang have a few scenes where the practice what they are going to do when they fight the vampires. It was really refreshing to see scenes like this. In most urban fantasy books/TV shows, the characters discuss the plan off screen and then they go fight the Big Bad. Elliott James takes a much more realistic approach with having his characters make plans and practice the plans, and it pays off (at least for me).
This book had a few flaws, but I think that these are due to it being a first book in a series. First, there is a lot of info dumping at the beginning of this book. Charming explains why there is all of this info dumping, but I wish that there were just a few less magical creatures in this book that needed to be explained and some of the world building was left just a little more vague instead. The info dumping shrinks dramatically as you move through the book, so you just need to push through it. Second, I don't think that enough time was spent on Charming's issues with the Knights Templar (he used to work with them before the start of the book). Apparently, the knights didn't like him, but then they were forced to work with him, then he did some stuff, and then they really didn't like him. I am summarizing to avoid spoilers, but this is all explained early on in the book. Anyway, I wish there was detail about why the knights didn't like him and why Charming was hung up on it. I think I have read too many other urban fantasy books where the "issue" (not saying due to spoilers) in this book just isn't a problem and everyone seems to deal with it.
Outside of these two issues, I really enjoyed the book, especially when the book focused on the book-centric plot (not the overarching Charming plot). The plot was interesting and had lots of fun twists and turns. I can really see this series being a real charmer (pun intended) with an urban fantasy audience. I like that this Charming deals with vampires and other typical urban fantasy creatures, but I am keeping my fingers crossed for some more traditional fairy story monsters too!
I give this book 3 out of 5 fairies.