The fifth book in the Pax Arcana urban fantasy series takes James’ (In Shining Armor, 2016, etc.) cast of characters on a near-catastrophic romp through a reality destabilized by fairy tale and myth.
John Charming is a werewolf and monster hunter who was once a member of the Knights Templar, a secret society that works to keep ordinary humans and magic apart. When a half-vampire named Kasia crashes his peaceful summer evening with an ominous message, Charming finds himself dragged into a disastrous supernatural. People in New York City are transforming into monsters out of fairy tales, myths, and the video games and role-playing games they have inspired, wreacking havoc and violence on innocent bystanders. The knights summon Charming to New York, along with his team of friends and fellow monster hunters: Sig, his Valkyrie girlfriend; Molly, who specializes in holy knowledge and exorcisms; and Choo, who acquires cars and weaponry with ease. Along with the mysterious and brutal Kasia, they must find the person causing the horrific transformations by reading them into existence with the help of a magical book. The search for this reader ticks the boxes of serviceable plot points that seem ready-made for television adaptation, with blandly described fight scenes, terrible puns, and tough-guy repartee. The characters are likable but not exceptional, falling neatly into the tropes of both urban fantasy and rougher-than-usual action heroes. The book opens with a strange, imagined interview between Charming and Barbara Walters, allowing for a shameless infodump that catches the reader up on the back story of the series, and most of the novel is narrated in Charming’s voice, which might be the strongest and most enjoyable element of the story.
An urban fantasy that features an irreverent, smart-mouthed hero and adventures that are entertaining, if not particularly thrilling.