This book was a delightful little surprise. For the past couple of months, every time I went to the book store, it was there, staring me in the face screaming “READ ME!!,” so one day, I finally bought it. Instead of placing it towards the back of my current read queue, I moved it right up front.
John Charming. Mmm where do I even begin? He has this wit about him that sucks you into his life from the very beginning. Each chapter is labeled to reflect this wit. Chapter One: A blonde and a vampire walk into a bar….” I knew from the beginning I would have high hopes for this book, and those hopes included some kind of enjoyment and desire to continue on with the series (Goodreads has it marked as Pax Arcana #1…so we shall see?)
I generally like to write any kind of reviews based on feelings, but I think I might sway a bit and include what the overall concept of the book is about. If you enjoy supernatural science fiction, you may or may not enjoy this book. Elliott James brings a new concept into the world of supernatural science fiction. He includes a type of secret police, the very Knights Templar, into the mix. The downfall, though, was that only one knight showed up the WHOLE book and his role was very small.
Let me explain….John Charming was a Knight during WWII. Prior to his birth, his mother was bitten by a werewolf. She gave birth to Charming prior to the first full moon. John never fully became a wolf, though some of the werewolf folklore was true in his case. He had great sense of smell, couldn’t be killed easily, healed fast. He just didn’t change. There is one particular incident in Charming’s life that made these particular traits come into focus, and the Knights turned their backs on him. Of which, he ran. And has been on the run his whole life from that point on. This book takes place in current years. John is a very old young man!
In the course of his run, John Charming finds himself in a little rural town in Virginia called Claysburg. He assumes someone’s identity and becomes that person until he has to move on. Sometimes this can be a few days, or a few weeks. At this juncture, he becomes a bartender. In walks Sig. Tall, blonde, Norse features, not human. Valkyrie. Sig has her own demons, as most of the characters do. But she is currently on the hunt of a vampire suspected of killing a particular breed of women, that most people might not even notice is missing. How does Sig know these women are missing? She sees ghosts. Not only can she see, speak, and feel ghosts, her sociopath of a boyfriend, Stanislav Dvornik, a kresnik (I have never heard of these before, they are ‘seers’, psychics, etc….similar to the Knights Templar) can remove himself from his body and see what is killing them, how and where.
John Charming’s wolf is immediately attracted, let’s face it, how could it not be? A strong, dominant, alpha female walks into a bar. What’s not to like? Charming ultimately gets sucked into Sig’s rag tag team of supernatural police misfits to help take down this vampire hive and preventing a psychotic teen wishing to be a vampire hive queen from taking over all of Claysburg by creating a series of underground tunnels. This unorthodox team includes: Choo, an ex-military surplus supplier turned exterminator, who likes his weed. Cahill, a local police detective. Molly, a former Episcopalian preacher (who is also a lesbian…she had to ‘out’ herself to reassure John she wasn’t coming onto him). Parth, the town’s local naga. And Dvornik’s nephews: Andro and Andrej, every bit of sociopath that their uncle is…they are the sharp shooters and muscle of the group.
What I like most about this book, is that every character is seriously damaged. Each person written into this book has a story. They have reasons why they are a part of this group. They have baggage that they can’t get rid of. I like how Elliott James takes these personas and is able to connect them all together, to bring them together, to be able to (for the most part) use these broken down individuals in such a way that they all 1) connect with each other, 2) work together with such beautiful fluidity and 3) just straight up kick ass. Each character has an added spunk, wit, kick ass first ask questions later, attitude. Each person has something unique that only they can bring to the team as a strength.
I don’t have a lot of dislikes in the book. I feel that there was a lot of buildup, but not necessarily that orgasmic explosion that I enjoy most out of a good book when everything seems to finally happen over the course of a few pages. There was a lot of sexual tension. Between multiple characters. And, some things, which I wont discuss, were rather predictable. Charming states from the beginning he isn’t living happily ever after. But, the end of the book, kind of left me feeling empty. Will this series continue? And if so…what direction will it go? Can it really continue? James just kind of left it. Maybe that is the point. It would fit right in with the quirkiness and wit of John Charming.
If this book were to become a movie this is who I saw as John Charming the ENTIRE time I read:
Can we say…yum?