Elliott James

Books: Fantasy

John Charming: Charming (2013)

Short Stories: Charmed I'm Sure (2013), Don't Go Chasing Waterfalls (2013), Dog-Gone (2013)

John Charming

Charming (2013)

CharmingI almost gave up on this. I read the short stories and enjoyed them, but a third of the way in, the story still wasn't doing it for me.

Again, it was wanting a sense of accomplishment and a curiosity as to how things turned out that kept me reading, and I have to say that about halfway through something changed, and I was suddenly into the story.

John Charming was born both a werewolf and a Knight Templar. These sides don't get along particularly well, but they do make him very good at killing monsters, something he's kept doing, even though he is no longer formally a member of the order.

I didn't find him interesting until the second half of the book. Before then I was more interested in the humans he ends up temporarily working with.

The African American man the van belonged to turned out to be a guy named Chauncey Childers whose parents had obviously combined a love of alliteration with a hatred of small children.

And there's also Molly, the Episcopal priest. I really liked Molly.

There were some things done that were different from what I was expecting, but for the most part it felt like a decent by overall average supernatural fantasy.

Published by Orbit

Rating: 6/10

Short Stories

Charmed I'm Sure (2013)

Charmed__PushingLuckI love short stories–they're like catnip to me. And short stories that introduce a character or author's writing before I have to buy the book are even better (I've gotten better about not finishing books I dislike, but I hate having spent money on terrible books, especially if I can't sell them back.

This was a good solid introduction to the author and the character. I can't say that as a short story it blew me away (sorry, but it's hard to live up to the author by whom I judge fantasy short stories, Charles de Lint.)

One aside. I read the the story, then re-read and authors name, and was still surprised to see the author referred to as "he" and "him." Of course, the author photo only made me feel more like it was a female author, and now I have no idea if it's a marketing ploy or what. It's totally my problem, but it gave me an odd disconnect.

Published by Orbit

Rating: 7/10

Don't Go Chasing Waterfalls (2013)

dont-go-chasing-waterfallsAnother John Charming story, this occurs after Charmed I'm Sure and references that story.

I think I figured out the problem I have with these short stories. They all being with a flash forward, or whatever the hell you call it. It's not a bad technique in and of itself, and one of my favorite books, Nightlife, opens that way.

But in short stories, it's harder to do well, and easy for the reader to lose track when the characters and their relationships to one another are unknown. Especially when, as happens here, you never really return to the characters introduced, or the scene.

It just seemed needlessly confusing.

That said, despite the flaws, it's an interesting and enjoyable story, and I do think I want to read more about John Charming. These short stories pretty much stand on their own, and give you an idea of the character and this seems like a world I'd like to visit.

And I quite liked this bit:

"Knight stories," Sarah elaborated. "Men stories. They're all about how brave the rescuers are. You never wonder how badly all those damsels in distress were traumatized. "Happily ever after," my ass."

"Ending a children's story with "… and she had night terrors and never again suffered the touch of another" would have its own problems."

So interesting, and I believe I'll read Charming, but it's not without flaws.

Published by Orbit

Rating: 6/10

Dog-Gone (2013)

This was an interesting story, and told me a little more about John Charming, the world he lives in, and his magical/mystical talents.

But I also found it rather confusing in parts, especially the beginning where the POV switches around. I had to go back and reread a couple times before I could figure out precisely who had been at the murder scene and when.

There were also a couple leaps of logic that made sense, but seemed to be awfully large leaps.

So, it was interesting–I quite liked the magical elements–but as a short story it had a couple problems that needed dealt.

But on the third hand, I read it for free, so there's that.

Rating: 5.5/10