Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Charming charms, because John Charming isn't

Charming (Pax Arcana, #1)Charming by Elliott James
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's like the country song says, "Maybe I'm a real bad boy, but baby, I'm a real good man."

He comes from a long line of Charmings -- an illustrious family of evil-fighters dating back to before Rome. He was trained by the Knights Templar--vicious upholders of the Pax Arcana, established by the powerful Fae when they left this plane. The Pax prevents normal from recognizing the presence of the supernatural beings left behind. Sometimes there’s a lot of collateral damage in the Knights’ enforcement: the deaths of innocents.

John Charming is on the run from the Templars, but not from his geas to protect the innocent and fight evil, so he’s a goner in more ways than one when Sig the Valkyrie walks into the bar, followed by a vampire.

Charming hits all the notes I like in urban fantasy: snarky hero (female or male) with a heart of gold, check. Superpowers, check. Nasty villains, check. Disparate characters joining together to fight evil, check. Love interest secondary or tertiary plot element, check. We read in our genres and subgenres because we do want some common elements—yes, we do want to hear the same story over and over again, but different!

What draws us to urban fantasy, I believe, is that the lines are blurred—between this world and others, between right and wrong. Sometimes the only difference between the bad guys and the good guys is that the good guys have a conscience. So like real life. We all want superpowers, we all have a taste for violence, we all live in a world that discourages and condemns violence at the same time, and we all want to just hit something or blow something up sometimes! And boy, do we want that sarcastic comeback when we need it! Hence, fantasy.

Finding a new author, a voice with some originality, is one of a reader’s greatest pleasures, and for avid readers, a promise of more books from the same author, heaven. Recommended!

(Got a temporary e-galley from the publisher through Netgalley. Netgalley reviewers are not paid.)

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