Audiobook Review: Charming by Elliott James

Posted August 18, 2014 by Carmel in Carmel, Reviews, Urban Fantasy, Werewolves / 63 Comments

Audiobook Review: Charming by Elliott James
Charming by Elliott James
Narrator: Roger Wayne
Series: Pax Arcana #1
Published by Tantor Media
Published on: April 23, 2014
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Werewolves
Length: 10 hrs & 33 mins
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star
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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...

CHARMING is the first novel in a new urban fantasy series which gives a new twist to the Prince Charming tale.

trendy love_triangle kickass

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 coffeeโ€”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 listโ€”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!

Pax Arcana Series



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Owner, designer and main blogger behind Rabid Reads. Avid book reader, snowboard bunny, video gamer and Supernatural fan. I love all things paranormal, werewolves especially. Oh, and I’m Canadian, eh!

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63 responses to “Audiobook Review: Charming by Elliott James

  1. Oh I’m glad you had a great time with this one. I loved the idea but I was expecting too much and I confess I was quite disappointed so I’m not sure I’ll read more one day but who knows. Maybe.

  2. Melanie Simmons ( from mlsimmons)  

    I’m over the love triangle bit too. I’m like you and surprised that a male author would write one, but I guess, to each his own. I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’m not familiar with this narrator. I’m going to have to look this series up on audio. My TBR (or in this case TBL) list is getting too long.
    Melanie Simmons ( recently posted…Those Who Wish Me Dead Audiobook Review

  3. Charming sounds pretty great, Carmel. While info dumps can annoy me, and a love triangle might as well, it seems as though Charming has enough other goodness to outweigh those things. I’m glad you loved listening to it. I may go that route, too. Charming is definitely going on my tbr. ๐Ÿ™‚ Great review!

  4. I got this one from Netgalley but until now I haven’t finished it… I mean I liked it at first, but I seriously thought it was about a bad ass Prince Charming going apeshit in a noir fairy tell setting beating up ghouls and teaming up with Princesses, so the Valkyrie thing totally caught me off-guard and I wasn’t able to recover ever since! I may need to go back and reevaluate O_O
    Faye recently posted…Faye Reads 50 Shades of Grey ~ Chapter 2 ~

    • I think listening to this one made a HUGE difference in my easy acceptance of James’ writing style. And yes, I couldn’t agree more, love triangles need to go the way of the Dodo.

  5. It’s awesome that you point out that this book was meant for your ears and not your eyes. I’ve felt the same way with so many books but never knew how to describe it. You nailed it, girl! This sounds pretty awesome too. I’m definitely looking into the audiobook. BTW what’s your other favorite narrator’s name? And have you listened to The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater audiobooks? Will Patton is a freaking genius!
    Bethzaida (bookittyblog) recently posted…Brutal Youth by Anthony Breznican Review

    • Thank you! ๐Ÿ™‚ Luke Daniels, he narrates Kevin Hearne’s The Iron Druid Chronicles. I haven’t started The Raven Boys yet, but I have book 1 on my iPhone waiting for me to listen to it. I am hoping to get to it soon-ish.

  6. Braine  

    I read this a while back so I don’t remember why I gave this 3-cauldrons. I think its the love triangle too and the heroine didn’t appeal to me much. Im with you on the world building though, I hope the next one is better. Way better

    • I don’t understand why SO many authors chose to go with the love triangle trope. Enough already! I remember reading your review after I finished listening to this one, and I think it was the narrator that bumped it into 4-star territory for me.

  7. “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.”

    I’m pretty sure I would find it ridiculous as well Carmel, and it’s definitely disappointing to know there’s such an absurd love triangle in this one! I’m so glad the secondary characters won you back over though, I do so love characters with snark. Looking forward to your thoughts on Daring!

  8. Mogsy from BiblioSanctum  

    I remember liking this at the time I read it, though now months later I can barely remember what happened. I still recall the Valkyrie character though! Anyway, I guess I thought it was enjoyable but pretty pedestrian UF…the author really should have played up the Prince Charming aspect of the protagonist, since as it is he could just be any other dude. I might give the sequel a shot, I haven’t decided yet.
    Mogsy recently posted…Book Review: Shadows by E.C. Blake

    • This series definitely has a lot of unexplored potential. I’m hoping that now that the love triangle is out of the way that the author will play-up the Prince Charming angle a bit more.

  9. I actually didn’t listen to the audio but I four starred this one as well because I didn’t have a problem at all with the narrative style and even the info dumping I didn’t mind once I got the gist of what he was doing, essentially prepping us the reader to be ready to do battle in this world. I liked the way that was done. I’m so read for the next one.

    Don’t forget to read the shorts! I’ve read one so far!
    Tabitha (Not Yet Read) recently posted…Guest Review: The Black Prism by Brent Weeks

    • I saw that there’s a bunch of shorts out already, but I’ll probably wait until after Daring to read ’em because that’s just how I roll. Hehe ๐Ÿ˜€

  10. I read the book last year and actually didn’t mind that John talks directly to the audience. It really works with the way the story is told, which is perfect for audiobook now that I think about it. It’s light and quirky and doesn’t take itself too seriously. Thanks for reminding me that the sequel will be coming out soon. I’ll be on the lookout for DARING as well!
    Kris recently posted…Movie Monday: Guardians of the Galaxy

  11. Oooh, I like the comparison to Atticus O’Sullivan! I thought he was friggin hilarious, so I’m happy to hear that there’s another snarky male protagonist for UF fans like me. Love triangles are a big no no, as is Norse mythology. I’m not really sure why, but there’s just something about that mythos that rubs me the wrong way. Maybe it’s all the hammers. Give me some swords, damn it! Lovely review, Carmel! I’ll definitely be keeping this series on my radar.
    Danya recently posted…Short Fiction Review: Warm Up by V.E. Schwab

    • I liked the protagonist, and the narrator, but the author also uses a lot of tropes that I’m not big on. As a result, this audio was a bit of a mixed bag…

    • Agreed! John really made this book for me as well, and the info dump is kind of expected from a first installment, so I didn’t hold that against the author overly much.