TITLE: Summoning the Night
SERIES: Arcadia Bell Series, Book #2
AUTHOR: Jenn Bennett
PUBLISHER: Pocket Books
PUBLICATION DATE: April 24, 2012
Arc received courtesy of author.
After narrowly escaping her fate as a sacrificial scapegoat, Arcadia Bell is back to normal. Or at least as ordinary as life can be for a renegade magician and owner of a tiki bar that caters to Earthbound demons. She’s gearing up for the busiest day of the year—Halloween—when a vengeful kidnapper paralyzes the community.
The influential head of the local Hellfire Club taps Cady to track down the fiendish bogeyman, and now that she’s dating red-hot Lon Butler, the Club’s wayward son, she can hardly say no. Cady and Lon untangle a gruesome thirty-year trail of clues that points to danger for the club members’ children. But locating the person behind the terror will require some metaphysical help from Cady’s loyal bar patrons as well as her potent new Moonchild powers—and she’d better figure it out before the final victim disappears and her own darkest secret becomes her biggest enemy.
I adore Arcadia Bell. Full stop. With this book, author Jenn Bennett creates a wonderful follow-up to her debut novel, Kindling the Moon. This series is a unique, complex, and fun addition to the urban fantasy genre. And it is a definite auto-buy for me.
My favorite part of the Arcadia Bell series is the cast of main characters. Arcadia is smart, funny, and multilayered. On one hand she is a tough and independent woman, a powerful magician that is just starting to understand her newfound and profound powers. One the other hand, she is wounded and vulnerable, just coming off a dramatic and hurtful realization about her parents, and starting to find her footing in her newly adopted family of her boyfriend Lon Butler, and his son, Jupe. Lon is a forty-something single father, almost 20 years older than Arcadia, and with a complicated past. Jupe is biracial and motherless. He and Arcadia share a common bond in that their mothers weren’t, well, very motherly (understatement alert).
These are complicated characters that continue to develop in this second book. And their conflicts are real. Not manufactured. The May-September romance between Lon and Arcadia produces very real doubts for her about the future of their relationship. She also feels a certain amount of fear about her new family. Having come from one that was not close, she starts to feel the weight of responsibility that comes with being a part of Lon and Jupe’s lives. These are issues that are based in the real world and that are relatable. They are not supernatural problems, but problems that can be complicated by the supernatural. And I appreciate the primary focus on character development as we see Arcadia and friends grow, and their futures together become more complex.
And speaking of futures, I do hope Lon and Arcadia are in it for the long haul. With the introduction of a new character, Hajo, I feel a further complication surfacing. But Lon and Arcadia are officially my favorite UF couple. Their chemistry is palpable and sexy. And it makes me smile. Here is just one example of the wonderfully flirtatious banter between the two after Arcadia has found a picture of Lon when he was a teenager:
“There’s several photo albums’ worth of the same thing at home,” he said.
He nodded and gave up the fight, returning his attention to the pile of papers in front of him. “I can’t believe Jupe hasn’t forced them on you already.”
“Any from the time you were in the seminary?” I asked.
“That sexy Jesus thing again?” he teased without looking up. “You’re a filthy girl, you know that?”
I think it’s this kind of humor that makes the Arcadia Bell world fun. There are also fantastic pop cultural references that make me laugh:
“It’s just that getting someone’s name tattooed on you is like a death sentence,” I finally said. “There’s a good chance you’re going to end up with a tattoo that you’ve got to get changed from Winona to Wino.”
And Jupe. I really think Bennett channeled her inner teenage boy to hit the right note with him. And he is fantastic. The relationship with his father is a unique one and I love moments like these when discussing a Halloween ride:
“Is it scary?” I asked. “I’m not a fan of people jumping out at me.”
“Nah, it’s kind of lame.” His eyes darted to the side.
“That’s not what you said three years ago,” Lon said.
“I was just a kid, and thanks for bringing that up, assbag.”
“Father Assbag,” Lon calmly corrected.
There is also a solid mystery here. Children of Hellfire Club members are being abducted which is similar to a series of abductions and murders that happened years earlier. Arcadia is called on to use her powerful skills to help track down the killer before more children lose their lives. While the killer definitely pinged my radar, the accomplices and the reason behind the kidnappings were a surprise.
Finally, Bennett sets up a good premise for the third book with the tempting Hajo, Arcadia’s past coming back to haunt her, the Hellfire Club, and the power of the Moonchild coming into full effect.
Summoning the Night gets four howls for the originality in its characters and their development, its humor, and its strong mystery.
And don’t forget to enter my giveaway for your chance to win a signed copy of either Kindling the Moon or Summoning the Night!