Charming, by Elliott James, is an urban fantasy and volume one of the Pax Arcana series. John Charming, former modern-day Knight Templar and current fugitive, is just trying to get by without trouble when trouble comes walking into his bar and sweeps him up in a much larger adventure.
Charming is told in first-person smartass, a trope I particularly like. Mr. James is good at weaving the worldbuilding in through John’s observations, and there’s a lot of worldbuilding to be done. John’s observations of the world color the narrative, as this is essentially his journal. There’s a Prelude and an Interlude to help explain how the Pax Arcana works, but they’re amusing. For the most part though, information is woven into the narrative.
I like the ideas behind the Pax Arcana. They make sense. People don’t notice the supernatural around them because there’s a worldwide spell in place that works with natural human skepticism. It’s more complex than that, and the author explains it better, but that’s the gist.
I also like the author’s take on vampires, werewolves, and knights. Not to mention nagas, kresniks, and fae. There’s detail in how each works and, in the interview with the author in the back of my version of the book, apperently even more that got cut from the book. You can feel the depth of the world though.
There’s a lot going on in Charming but it all weaves together. There’s a potential new vampire queen on the rise, a love triangle, or even quadrangle depending on how you look at it, and a large cast to get to know. I enjoyed meeting everyone. The subplots influence the main plot and vice versa, so nothing feels tacked on or separate. No part could be removed without effecting the whole, which is as things should be.
I finished this book in two days. I loved it. If urban fantasy is your thing, then Charming is right up your alley. I intend to grab the next book in quick order.