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7.24.2011

Review: Kindling the Moon by Jenn Bennett

Kindling the Moon (Arcadia Bell #1) by Jenn Bennett
Urban Fantasy, Magic, Demons
Mass Market Paperback $7.99 (384 pages, POCKET)
Ebook $7.99

Meet Arcadia Bell: bartender, renegade magician, fugitive from the law. . . .
Being the spawn of two infamous occultists (and alleged murderers) isn’t easy, but freewheeling magician Arcadia “Cady” Bell knows how to make the best of a crummy situation. After hiding out for seven years, she’s carved an incognito niche for herself slinging drinks at the demon-friendly Tambuku Tiki Lounge.
But she receives an ultimatum when unexpected surveillance footage of her notorious parents surfaces: either prove their innocence or surrender herself. Unfortunately, the only witness to the crimes was an elusive Æthyric demon, and Cady has no idea how to find it. She teams up with Lon Butler, an enigmatic demonologist with a special talent for sexual spells and an arcane library of priceless stolen grimoires. Their research soon escalates into a storm of conflict involving missing police evidence, the decadent Hellfire Club, a ruthless bounty hunter, and a powerful occult society that operates way outside the law. If Cady can’t clear her family name soon, she’ll be forced to sacrifice her own life . . . and no amount of running will save her this time.

Author Site: http://www.jennbennett.net/

An Instant Keeper for UF Fanatics (5 stars)

Arcadia "Cady" Bell, co-owner of the Tambuku Tiki Lounge, is a woman who has mastered the art of hiding in plain sight. When her infamous parents were accused of murder seven years ago they faked their deaths and sent Cady into hiding. But when her parents are spotted and a rival society of mages demands justice Cady's new life gets turned upside down. The only way to prove her parents' innocence is to find the only witness to their alleged serial killings, an Ætheric demon she has only vague clues about. In order to summon the demon she'll need to find its name but her resources are limited.

Lon Butler is a former priest with a library of stolen grimoires and a network of fellow Earthbound demons that could prove quite useful. Balancing his life as a famous photographer, skilled demonologist and single father of a precocious 13-year-old is tough enough without being dragged into Cady's demon hunt but he agrees to help her anyway. Soon the two find themselves falling down a rabbit hole of magical secrets, familial deceit and demonic dangers all while trying to survive the lush sexual tension building between them.

O-M-G. Seriously. If you love Urban Fantasy just buy this book. It takes a lot to make me say that and there has been a recent flux of brilliant novels I can say this about but I think this one is absolutely exceptional. The only issue I have with it is that the world building is occasionally confusing. I still have some confusion over a few areas of the world building after reading the whole book but as with most UF too much information dumped at the wrong time would have been overkill. Bennett does get a little heavy on the info dumping a couple of times but only a couple of times. Keeping that in mind this is a rich world of magical secretive societies and demons. If you love Meljean Brook's writing you'll dig Jenn Bennett's style.

Arcadia is not an easy character to pin down. The things I found relatable to myself such as feeling abandoned by her parents might not be relatable to every reader but she's very likable. One of the things I liked about her right away was that her closest friend is a female, finding women who get along with other women in UF can be a little hit and miss. As a potential love interest Lon is (ugh, I hate using this word but...) yummy. There's a bit of an age gap between he and Cady that actually really works to balance their personalities. His status as a single father is unusual but adds a dimension to his motivations that made him very solid, just the sort of rock a character like Cady needs in an uncertain world. The sparks of attraction between the two fly off the page to the point I thought I'd need a fire extinguisher. They're definitely my new favorite UF couple next to Allie and Zayvion from Devon Monk's Allie Beckstrom series, fans of the Vampire Academy series might be the slightest bit reminded of Rose and Dimitri. Meanwhile, Lon's son, Jupe (short for Jupiter), manages to steal the show whenever he comes on scene. As a parent of a boy near Jupe's age I couldn't help but adore him. It's not often a main character in a UF novel has a child that is played so well into the storyline and I've never read one as likable as Jupe.

The overall plot of KINDLING THE MOON is filled with twists and turns, even manages to throw some surprises at the reader. The pacing is excellent, the scenes flowing with a natural rhythym that doesn't stall or rush ahead needlessly. It's not a saving-the-world tale but if you like a very character-centric plot Bennett delivers a rich one worthy of veteran author praise.

I echo once again my buy-it-NOW sentiment. This is a mature, highly refined urban fantasy full of darkness, charm and sensuality, thick with series potential and characters that are unforgettable in a genre overloaded with cliched clones. Deserving of each one of my five stars and more I'd almost dare call this an insta-classic for the genre. Bennett is a debut author I would pre-order untitled novels from without batting an eyelash. Absolutely superb!
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Notes: Received review copy from Publisher.

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