(Pax Arcana #1)
by Elliot James
by Elliot James
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Paperback: 400 Pages
Publication: September 24, 2013 by Orbit
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 copy was provided by Hachette for review ◆
John is the kind of hero I'd expect for a book that exposes the truth behind all the fairy tales we know and love. He's snarky and always ready to make another sarcastic comment even if it means he's in danger of pushing one too many buttons on an already riled person. He's also, gasp, an abomination to the rules that the knights, the world's protectors, seek to destroy, and of course he's not going to let them take him down easily. Supporting him is Sig, the kind of romantic interest I'd expect for this hero. She's kickass and stronger than he is, so she's in a position to talk right back at him and even save his butt on the battlefield. Still, she isn't like all kickass girls. She doesn't dump her overbearing, insecure boyfriend immediately; she wavers between loyalty and her realization that she has something with John. I like that about her. I only question how quickly they develop such strong feelings for each other. Given the timeline of the book, they haven't known each other all that long. While it's possible to develop a relationship quickly, it takes time to really get to know each other. Maybe it's because both of their supernatural abilities encourage them to trust their instincts?
I like how the other supporting cast members don't let John and Sig's strong personalities overshadow them. They all bring their own unique, vibrant personalities to the story, even the less likable among them. I actually like how they aren't all likable. In real life, we don't always get to choose the people we work with; oftentimes, we have to team up with those with whom we share a mutual distate. The only problem I had with them was how John sometimes alternated between identifying a character by his last name and then his first name. It made it hard to keep track of who he was talking about. Also, I don't know anyone who calls someone alternately by first name and last name on a regular basis or right after the other, maybe just in specific situations.
Given the humor and snark that John brings to the book, I'm okay with some incredulity and clichés. I'm also okay with him talking to the audience and giving us backstory in the middle of an important scene. It's still not my favorite way of having the context set, especially as it does get tedious and isn't always welcome at the time given the situation, but it works for this story. The most jarring aspect of the novel is that John's voice is the kind typically adopted by snarky female characters. Still, he doesn't cross the line into being entirely effeminate, and his voice certainly didn't hold back from my enjoyment of the novel. It's refreshing to see a hot guy who doesn't act moody and domineering all the time.
On the whole, this was a likable novel. John's light tone keeps the plot moving forward, giving essential information without getting bogged into too many details, excepting when he's making a snarky comment, and the characters all bring something to the story. I'd be willing to give the next book a try.