Monday, April 23, 2012

Early Review - Summoning the Night (Arcadia Bell #2) by Jenn Bennett

MAGICAL TRICKS. DEMONIC TREATS. 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.

But there was only so much worrying you could do before you just had to accept what life throws at you and move on, because some things were going to be out of your control and others can't be fixed or changed.

Review: I know I'm going to get a lot of flak for this rating, but this installment of Arcadia Bell just didn't blow me away like its predecessor, Kindling the Moon, did.  This story opens up with Cady watching Jupe while Lon is away on a photo shoot.  The two are almost mugged as they bring supplies to Cady's Tiki bar, and Jupe starts talking about the kidnapping spree that occurred thirty years ago to the date.  Jupe and Cady are safe from this attack, but Cady decides that she needs to take extra precautions, especially with Jupe.  Once at Cady's home, Lon arrives home early because he misses his son and Cady.

There's a madman nicknamed The Sandpiper Park Snatcher going around, kidnapping high school aged children of the Hellfire Club members.  This same scenario occurred thirty years before.  Cady is asked by The Hellfire Bluc to help find the missing children and to stop the kidnapper.  Along the way, friends from Cady's bar help her (and put her in a difficult position), and she is also blackmailed by the leader of the Hellfire Club, Ambrose Dare.  The rest of the book follows the "big bad" plotline mystery, the growth of Jupe's relationship with Cady, and Cady's internal struggle regarding the use of her Moonchild abilities.

There were several things that I really liked about this book.  One thing is Lon Butler.  Lon is quickly becoming one of my favorite male characters in urban fantasy.  He's smart, brave, loyal, loving and is very hot with his pirate mustache!  Don't ask me why, but whenever he says, "Christ, Cady!" I get all tingly!  He is sexy and fun, and a great match for Cady, no matter the age difference.  

He pushed my hair back over my shoulder to expose my neck.  His eyes wandered there.  "Sometimes I think I might die if I can't touch you."

Another thing I really liked about this book was the development of the Jupe-Cady relationship.  Jupe is middle school kid who knows his birth mother is a flake.  The only female role models in his life are his aunt and grandmother, who do not live close by.  It is clear in this book that Jupe is already looking at Cady as a mother-figure.  He doesn't necessarily treat her like a mother, but he adores her and wants her in his life long-term.  One of the things that saved him in this book is that he tattooed himself with Cady's personal mark.  Putting someone else's mark on you is pretty serious stuff.  I love Jupe's non-stop talking and his sense of humor.  I also really enjoyed Jupe's tentative practice of his new "knack."

"My dad says he likes her so much that if she kicked him in the balls, he'd just thank her."

I also enjoyed Cady's struggle with her Moonchild abilities.  Cady is trying to stay on the straight and narrow.  She's afraid that if she fully embraces her Moonchild powers that she will begin to use them all the time, and not for the best reasons.  She is fearful that the powers might take her over, and possible turn her towards evil, like her parents.

Here are the things that I didn't enjoy as much.  First, I didn't think there was much progress in the Lon-Cady relationship.  These two have only been together for a short while, and they are not acting like a new couple.  There is one smexy scene that I enjoyed.  I don't even think there needed to be more sex scenes.  What I would have liked to have seen was more flirting, more sexy banter, just more Lon and Cady relationship-building.  It's nice to see that these two are comfortable with each other.  I love that!  However, there doesn't seems to be much "new couple" behavior between them, yet there are many mentions of them being a family long-term.  The age difference between Lon and Cady crept up again in this book.  Although I believe it is something to think about, I am positive that Lon has never given Cady a reason to believe that he has a problem with her age.  Cady allowed  what amounts to a stranger to make her question the age difference again.  

I wasn't thrilled with the big bad in this book.  Kidnapping Jupe has already been done.  There was some misdirection regarding the bad guy, but I didn't have too many problems figuring it out on my own.  

The only other thing that bothered me was that this book didn't have that "it factor" of Kindling the Moon.  When I read Kindling the Moon, I couldn't put the book down.  I was fascinated by the world Jenn Bennett had created, and I was immersed in the Lon-Cady relationship.  The magic was fun to read about, and I enjoyed Cady's family problems.  Summoning the Night just didn't have that effect on me.  I feel like the pacing was a bit slower in this book, and it just didn't have that spark that I saw in the first book.  

Regardless, this is one of the better urban fantasy series in print today.  I look very forward to reading the third book in this series and hope that it gets the story back on track.


Braine @ Talk Supe said...

You're still generous with 4 stars so it's all good. I'm really starting to like this Jupe boy

Jamie said...

It's really 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4. There are so many things that I did like - it's just not as good in my opinion as the first book.

Miss Vain's Paranormal Fantasy said...

Oh Jamie!!:) Glad you loved it! ;) Great review!:)

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