Hi, everyone! So sad the weekend is over. I spent most of it getting acquainted to Elliott James's Pax Arcana series, which kicked off in September with Charming. James also penned a number of e shorts to go along with the series, "Charmed I'm Sure," "Don't Go Chasing Waterfalls," and "Pushing Luck." (Looks like there's at least one more due out as well.)
In "Charmed I'm Sure" John Charming is just passing through when he stops to help a naked man on the side of the road. The last thing the man remembers is being back in Pennsylvania post Y2K. John instantly suspects there's something magical to blame and goes on the hunt for the thing that might be responsible.
As an intro to the world and the character, "Charmed" is a really fun tale. Whether you read this first or after reading Charming, it gives you a chance to see even more of the great detail James has put into the setting and the mythology that supports his world building.
"Don't Go Chasing Waterfalls" follows immediately after "Charmed" with John seeking help from one of the cunning folk. Her name is Sarah White and while she seems innocent enough, John's experience with her kind leaves him wary of trusting her. But all she wants in exchange for helping him is a little help herself after one of her employers goes missing.
I loved the way this one tied into the previous tale, though in reading them I actually read them in reverse. It's ok. It doesn't really matter all that much which order any of these are read in but it was fun that they were linked. Again the use of varied mythology and the Pax Arcana itself prove to be a really great premise for this world and make each of the stories that much more enjoyable.
Finally, in "Pushing Luck" John infiltrates a high end and highly exclusive poker game with an eye to bringing in a bit of income. Turns out this game has higher stakes than just cash when John realizes a Rakshasa is running the whole thing.
Did I mention how cool the mythology used in this series has been so far? I mean you've got fairy rings in the first story, a Norwegian water spirit (a fossegrim) in the second, and a being from Hindu/Buddhist lore in the third. I haven't even touched on John's story at all either, which you get in more detail in the actual book Charming, but he's a former member of the Knights Templar and a werewolf, and a descendant of the legendary Charming family.
In these shorts he travels around a bit Jack Reacher like, using his skills and strengths to bring down supernatural baddies. In Charming he's tapped to help bring down a vampire ring or risk his anonymity. These three stories each serve as great extras if you've already read Charming or as cheap intros to the series if you haven't. They all come with a teaser chapter from the book as well. Orbit also has another short up on their site right now. You can read "Dog Gone" here.
The Pax Arcana series is sure to hit the spot for fans of Richard Kadrey's Sandman Slim and Jim Butcher Dreseden books. Definitely recommended for readers who enjoy mythology based urban fantasy and paranormal mystery.