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 chain mail and crossbows to Kevlar and shotguns, John Charming was one of the best-until a curse made him one of the abominations the Knights were sworn to hunt.
That was a lifetime ago. Now John tends bar under an assumed name in rural Virginia and leads a peaceful, quiet life. That is, until a vampire and a blonde walked into his bar...
©2013 Elliott James LLC (P)2014 Tantor
At first I saw the title of this book and read the publishers synopsis and really wasn't too sure about it. I don't like sappy insipid romances and I really hate books that are too predictable. This one was not either. I found the entire book delightful. There were funny portions as well as heated fight scenes and of course the supernatural. Although E. James' pantheon is a little bit different than Jim Butchers - the overall construction is very similar but different enough to keep your interest without going nuts. The main character is very engaging and as a listener I felt that the narrator did a really super job at creating the character. While the name of the book is rather cheesy - it sorta fits the persona and it makes for a good story-line. This book is nothing like what you would think it is and I highly recommend it as another "Dresden" like book/series. However - only Book 1 is available on audible. Hopefully that will change and more of the series will become available.
Speculative Fiction Book Review Blogger
I loved Elliott James’ PAX ARCANA universe, his first person POV writing style, and John, the male protagonist, but I had some major issues with the love triangle, info dumps, and the fact that the female lead was a Valkyrie. However, the former appears to have been resolved, and even though I have reached my limit on books that feature this type of lore, the Norse mythology was light enough to be tolerable. And, because of this, I will not hesitate to one-click DARING in September. CHARMING was made for audio, as soon as I heard Roger Wayne’s voice I knew that this series was meant for my ears and not my eyes.
A number of reviewers mentioned that having the narrator speak directly to the reader was a little weird; I on the other hand did not have this problem thanks to the audiobook. From the prelude onward I felt like I was part of the story, and I really enjoyed that aspect of James’ style. The world-building was rich albeit a little too much at times, and I especially liked the idea behind the PAX ARCANA. Many authors struggle with whether supes are ‘out’ or not, so I loved the idea behind a world-wide spell. The Knights Templar oath also added an interesting twist on what John can and cannot do, plus he’s learned how to brew the perfect cup of coffee—a man after my own heart!
I’m not sure why the love triangle surprised me, but I honestly just didn’t expect one from a male Urban Fantasy author which is probably why it annoyed me way more than it should have. Dvornik and Charming are two bad ass characters, so the fact that they are fighting over Sig like a couple of school boys struck me as ridiculous. And, at times I found that the vampire hunt became secondary to the romantic drama which caused me to lose interest in the story. But, the wonderful secondary characters helped to reel me back in, and John’s wit & snark reminded me of Atticus O’Sullivan (Kevin Hearne), another protagonist whom I adore.
Roger Wayne was an instant hit with this listener; I loved everything about his delivery and tone, and how I felt like he was talking to ME because of the first person POV. His narration flowed well, and I liked all of his character voices. I sometimes had difficulty telling when an explanation wasn’t part of John’s storytelling, but otherwise this audiobook was a near perfect listen. I finally have another male narrator to add to my favourites list—I’m now at two in case you’re wondering.
CHARMING brought a lot to the table with great writing, lovable characters, and the geeky humour that I love. It wasn’t perfect, but Elliott James hasn’t really even gotten to the best part yet… the werewolves!
Reviewing Romance & Urban Fantasy
YES! Just when I was drowning in romances and needed a great urban fantasy listen, CHARMING came into my life.
CHARMING has a full cast of supernaturals from werewolves, vamps, Valkyrie and more.
I've not read many books told from a male protagonist POV's and I must say I'm really enjoying them. They are great for when I'm burn out on romances. I love the fact that CHARMING is written in first person so when Roger Wayne narrates John Charming's story it's like he is talking to me when I'm listening.
I told someone that I thought John Charming is like a cooler Atticus from Kevin Hearne's Iron Druid Chronicles. I'd love to see these two guys hang out sometime.
Roger Wayne can out of no where for me. I was hooked on his narration of CHARMING within 20 minutes of listening. He has made it to my list of favorite narrators and I don't have many male narrators on that list. He did an outstanding job with everything.
I was about 40% into CHARMING when I purchased book 2, DARING on audio. Bring on more Elliott James and Roger Wayne!
If you're a fan of author Kevin Hearne you'll enjoy Elliott James as well.
Fan of Luke Daniels' narration you also enjoy Roger Wayne.
I read. A lot. I ditch parties to read. I can't read in public because I'm too reactive. Audio's nice with the right narrator. Men are best.
Too funny and entertaining to not listen to again. I've got my boyfriend reading this to me before bed. The story is decent, but the narrator sells it, he has a voice for everyone!
I don't normally do first person books, but between the witty dialog and the way Roger Wayne delivers it, its hard not to get sucked in from the first chapter. So for the first time (ever) I will say that I loved that it was done in first person, through John's ever watchful eyes.
Its not so much as a scene that stood out for me, as it is a funny bit. John and Sig sit alone in a diner when an irate waitress comments on the amount of food they can eat and still look so good. Sig tells her she plans to throw it all up later in the bathroom, and John exclaims that he has a tapeworm.
I laughed. Hard. And Frequently. I'm not sure if this series will ever make me cry, but the comedy is gold, which I find is rare in most sci-fi/fantasy novels.
If the the audio sample wasn't enough to convince you, then maybe I can shove you over the edge. This book is a new age outlook on old fables and the monsters within. Fantasy trying to pass in a modern world. You will like John, he's a smart ass. You'll enjoy the rest of the crew as they act like anyone you'd meet on the street with sharp wit. You won't get overly annoyed with the 'romance' because there is no love at first sight b.s. or some triangle that ends tragically after all the fans have divided into two teams, cheering the men on. And you will be impressed by how many different voices one reader can do, truly distinguishing between every personality the story has to offer.
Light hearted, funny at times, but serious at times. Urban fantasy, this guy and Dresden would be buds, but it is not a cheap imitation to hold you over. The narrator hit it spot on, very entertaining. There is excellent world building and character development. I wish I had found this author sooner, will definitly be looking for more.
I would definitely recommend this audiobook. The author has a wonderful sarcastic wit that is sustained throughout the entire book. There is a lot of description and explanation as the protagonist, John Charming, informs the reader about the world he lives in, but it never feels dull or drags because of the ease and sense of humor of the narrative. The world John Charming lives in, by the way, is our modern world, but with the punch line that everything supernatural, mythical, or fantastical that you've ever heard of is real. Fans of the TV show Supernatural will recognize a kindred spirit in author Elliot James' world building. Though he ads an element of explanation as to why the public at large don't realize or believe that they are surrounded by magic, and that is the Pax Arcana, a spell cast hundreds of years ago that hides the supernatural from human notice.
The story is in first person narrative from John's point of view, and therefore has a very male tone to it. But with the sense of humor and the wonderful flow of the writing it never put me off or made me feel disconnected as a female listener. John is great fun as the protagonist, and the female lead Sig (like the side arm :-)) has a great balance of feminist power and feminine grace. I enjoyed her character a lot. Likewise for the rest of the Scooby gang that get in on the action (a Thelma style priest named Molly who loves Christmas and puppies, a mouthy detective, and an ornery exterminator, to name a few). I hope to spend more time with these characters in the future!
I thought Wayne had the perfect sense of the character John Charming, and really brought out the sense of humor and comic timing perfectly. The rest of the voices don't really stand out, but it didn't really bother me. They were different enough from the character of John that I could tell who was talking even if they author didn't tell me, so I appreciate that.
I really enjoyed this book, and like I said I loved the writing style. My only complaint really is that the plot is pretty limited. When you get down to the bones of the story, not that much actually happens, and it takes place over only a few days time. I would have liked to see a more in-depth plot that carried through a longer stretch of time. Especially with the potential for so many adventures with all the different mythological creatures and supernatural aspects of the world James has built. All in all I loved the book, but I hope that this is just the beginning, and that there will be many more to come, with many more adventures!
The story, characters and setting were pretty good. It was a neat take on the supernatural.
I guess John Charming was it, mainly because he was narrating everything and his POV was the one that seemed "always on"
Again, John Charming here but kudos to him for varying up the voices of the other characters too.
Some of the descriptions were pretty good. Describing someone as "grave shopping" while attacking him was quite appetizing.
The dialogue attributes were...jarring and often just weird or not needed.
I'm not sure if there was a problem during the recording but for example;
"I told her to get out my way", [beat][beat], "I chided."
The time between the dialogue and the attribute felt like (at times), tapping the brakes with enough force to rock you forward in the seat while rolling to a stop light.
The story itself is a good one, and the characters are interesting. However, I gave the story a 3 because the author keeps stopping to explain this or that aspect of the world he's created. Its like having to stop and read footnotes constantly. I credit the narrator with keeping me "in the story" as much as possible.
An interesting take on the Charming legend but don't expect princes and ladies who need rescuing. Instead there are vampires and werewolves and other things that go bump in the night. A satisfying conclusion with enough loose ends to make you want to pick up the next book.
This story was on the better end of urban fantasy, though it's not the best I've listened too (Dresden remains throned in that regard for me). if the rest are of this caliber though, it will definitely be up there.
Anyway, story aside, the narrator was pretty brilliant; the narration added to the story - taken together they're certainly worth the listen.
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