Legend Has It by Elliott James urban fantasy book reviewsLegend Has It by Elliott James urban fantasy book reviewsLegend Has It by Elliott James

Legend Has It (2017) is the fifth book in Elliott JamesPAX ARCANA series. You really need to read the previous books, Charming, Daring, Fearless, and In Shining Armor first.

I love the way Elliott James recaps the story from the previous novels. Legend Has It begins with John Charming imagining being interviewed by Barbara Walters. She asks him about all the things that have happened to him and, of course, how he feels about it. It’s an effective and hilarious way to remind us of where we are in John’s story.

Weird things are happening in New York City. People are transforming into fairy tale and mythical creatures, and even buildings are turning into places that belong in a fairy tale or video game. The Knights are called in to help and they discover that all the chaos is being caused by a book that was written by a secret society originally headed by John Dee. Someone is using the book to create his or her own fantasy world. John and his friends must stop the culprit before the entire city is transformed. They are compelled to keep the Pax Arcana, but it’s getting harder to do so with the “Reader” on the loose.

Meanwhile, they also have to deal with a woman who is the ex-girlfriend of John’s girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend. (I hope you got that.) She is pretty pissed off that Sig (John’s girlfriend) killed said ex-boyfriend. They also have to deal with Simon, one of the leaders of the Knights. He doesn’t give them all the information they need and he’s getting more and more bossy. He’s a terrible leader and I predict that John will have his job someday. Oh, and there might be a spy in their midst.

Pax Arcana by Elliott James urban fantasy book reviewsAs always, the best part of Legend Has It is John’s snarky voice. He seems a little darker in this story, but he’s as amusing as ever. Elliott James’ writing is smoother than before, and the pacing is great. The secondary characters are better developed in this book (James is improving in this area) and we get to see from their perspectives, too.

There is still the problem with the very loose plot. This story, especially, seems somewhat unfocused with a jumble of disparate elements. Granted, it’s that kind of story (sort of like the Jungian archetypes generated from the collective unconscious as in Robert Holdstock’s Mythago Wood and Lavondyss) but it’s pretty messy, even confusing at times. Another problem (as usual) is John’s unbelievable knack of figuring everything out with only a few clues.

At the end of Legend Has It, there’s a surprise for John. It has to do with family and I look forward to seeing what happens there.

The audiobook performance by Roger Wayne is wonderful. He is perfect for John’s voice, but his female voices aren’t great. And too bad he can’t do a very good Barbara Walters imitation; that would have been awesome.

Published in 2017. For John Charming, living the dream just became a nightmare. Someone, somewhere, is reading a magic book that is reading them right back. Real life is becoming a fairytale: high school students are turning, quite literally, into zombies, subway workers into dwarves, drug addicts into vampires. John Charming and his motley band of monster hunters are racing to find the villain of this story, following the yellow brick road through a not so wonderful wonderland. And if they can’t find Reader Zero before the book is closed, there won’t be a happily ever after again.


  • Kat Hooper

    KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.