Reading level: Adult
Genre: Urban fantasy
Mass market paperback: 384 pages
Release date: June 28, 2011
Series: Arcadia Bell #1
Source: Personal shelf
Reviewed by: Jenn
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.
Having just finished Kindling the Moon, I'm hard pressed to remember why I waited so long to read it. It’s one of the most delightful debuts I’ve read. I’m so happy that I finally read it because it was absolutely delightful.
Arcadia Bell is a woman with a past. A talented though somewhat untrained magic user, she’s on the run from the law since her parents faked all of their deaths to avoid being arrested for serial murders. She’s made a life as a bar owner with her demon friend but it all starts to crumble when her parents are spotted and Arcadia has to clear their names by finding the real murderer. Unfortunately, this entails tracking down a mysterious albino demon that no one’s been able to find for a good decade. Thankfully, Cady is resourceful and smart. I hate it when main characters spend big chunks of time dithering about what to do; Cady is all about getting stuff done, possibly because she only has a couple weeks to accomplish her goal. And Jenn Bennett takes us on quite the ride over these couple weeks. She’s crafted a plot with fantastic reveals, strong world building, wonderful characters, and lovely moments. So. Good. Her explanation for why there are demons is just fantastic:
That’s why there are so many Earthbounds [demons] running around the States these days. Some idiot magician working for queen Elizabeth summoned a group of lower-echelon Aethyric demons and trapped them in human bodies, thinking they’d make pliable subjects when America was being colonized. However, the newly invoked Earthbounds lost their ticket home when the magician died of smallpox before he could send them back. A few hundred years of breeding, and here we are.
Of course, I can’t talk about the novel without commenting on Lon and Jupe. First off, I *love* the name Lon Butler. It instantly invokes Old Hollywood for me. And Lon does have a very debonair, rakish air to him at times, in addition to being an expert of demons. He also has a son named Jupe, who just might be the cutest kid I’ve seen in a book lately.
Even though Lon has a couple decades on Arcadia, their romantic chemistry is off the charts. At first, I wasn’t sure how I felt about the age gap, which is ridiculous since a goodly chunk of paranormal romances have the centuries old/immortal guy wooing a nubile, twenty-something female lead. However, Lon is so charming and surprising that he won me over almost immediately. He may not have a showy power like Cady but he’s good at what he does and he’s got a lot of depth.
Did I mention there’s a hedgehog?
When I first bought Kindling the Moon, I didn’t really get everything on the cover. The Tiki faces made sense based on the blurb but I wasn’t sure what was going on with Cady. Having finished the book, though, I have to say that Tony Mauro has captured Arcadia perfectly, from her two-toned hair to the invisible sigils on her arm. I also love the moon necklace (Cady is called the Moonchild because of the way she was conceived) and the fact that she’s wearing a whole shirt instead of baring her midriff as so many UF heroines seem wont to do. It’s a very Cady cover and I love it.