Size Doesn’t Matter (54): Arcadia Bell

Size Doesn’t Matter (54): Arcadia BellSummoning the Night by Jenn Bennett
Series: Arcadia Bell #2
Published by Pocket Books on April 24, 2012
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Mystery, Romance
Pages: 324
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars

Magick. Murder. Mayhem. It’s all in a night’s work. . . .

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.

A couple months back, I read Kindling the Moon, the first Arcadia Bell novel, and then I got a bit sidetracked. Partially, it took me so long to get back into this series because I changed my system whereby I select free reads. However, Kindling the Moon also wasn’t the most engaging book ever. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t excellent, but it wasn’t something I tore through, and I didn’t feel that fiery passion to KEEP. READING. With Summoning the Night, though, that completely changed.

I pretty much could not put Summoning the Night down. Perhaps because Bennett now has all the world building out of the way, the pace was so much faster. Cady and Lon are trying to track down a kidnapper of demon children, and it’s all danger all the way. The mystery was well done and the ending was very satisfying, as well as the set up for the next villain.

The characters continue to be stellar, albeit confusing. Jupiter, now almost fourteen, is just as amazing as ever. He’s so funny and charming and frenetic. Meanwhile, I still ship the puzzling and so not me couple of Lon and Cady, despite the fact that Bennett refuses to stop mentioning his long blond hair and pirate mustache. I’m probably supposed to picture him as Carey Elwes but actually maybe I’ll try that.

This series has some of the best paranormal/urban fantasy/whatever world building I’ve encountered. It’s rare to find something that’s legit awesome fantasy but also has mega hot sex scenes.


Size Doesn’t Matter (54): Arcadia BellLeashing the Tempest by Jenn Bennett
Series: Arcadia Bell #2.5
Published by Pocket Star on December 7, 2012
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 65
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Dating a demon, defeating evil, running a tiki bar: Arcadia Bell is a great occult mage in many respects. But then there’s the challenge of her boyfriend’s precocious teenage son…

Arcadia "Cady" Bell may have saved the Hellfire Club’s children from a local bogeyman, but she and her Earthbound demon boyfriend, Lon Butler, now face a more disturbing problem: his teenage son’s new demonic abilities. Jupe Butler can persuade you to do anything—or so he thinks. To test the limits of his newfound power, Cady invites the co-owner of Tambuku Tiki Lounge to be the teen’s guinea pig during an afternoon boat cruise. But when an angry storm whips the Pacific into a frenzy and Jupe puts them all in serious danger, will Cady's magick trump a teenager’s excess confidence?

For a novella, Leashing the Tempest was great. Though unnecessary to the larger plot, the story is funny and the characterization remains strong. My one complaint really is that Kar Yee was there but really did not get to do anything whatsoever. At the price point of free, I am pleased with my purchase and decision to read the novella for the series.


Size Doesn’t Matter (54): Arcadia BellBinding the Shadows by Jenn Bennett
Series: Arcadia Bell #3
Published by Pocket Books on May 28, 2013
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Mystery, Romance
Pages: 366
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars

In the third book in this beloved and “riveting” (Romantic Times) urban fantasy series, demon-friendly tiki bar owner Arcadia Bell discovers more about her own evolving, and possibly destructive, magical abilities when her bar is the target of a demonic crime wave.

Renegade mage and bartender Cady Bell has had a rough year, but now the door to her already unstable world is coming completely unhinged. When a citywide crime wave erupts, Cady’s demon-friendly tiki bar is robbed by Earthbounds wielding surreal demonic abilities that shouldn’t exist.

With the help of her devilishly delicious boyfriend, Lon Butler, Cady sets out to find the people who wronged her. But the criminals aren’t the only ones experiencing unnatural metamorphoses—Cady’s own Moon Child abilities are evolving beyond her control. Can Cady track down the monsters responsible before the monster inside destroys everything—and everyone—she loves?

Binding the Shadows marks a new high point for the Arcadia Bell series. Though their books are very different, her writing reminds me a lot of Rachel Aaron, because she does such a good job balancing character development and seriously mind-blowing plotting/world building. Plus, she does horrible things to her characters.

Throughout Summoning the Night and Binding the Shadows, Cady has been questioning herself, wondering if she is becoming a monster like her parents. In Binding the Shadows, that fear gets a bit more literal, as she learns more about her moonchild powers. Before I got here, the moonchild stuff worried me, as, for a while there, those powers seemed like they would allow Cady to easily escape anything. The powers are almost limitless, however, they come with serious pain in the form of View Spoiler ».

On top of that, Cady’s committed many acts of violence she didn’t think she would be capable of, some intentionally and some by accident. She’s struggling with feelings of guilt and fear of what she could bring down on the people around her. View Spoiler »

I read all three of these in two days pretty much and I have no regrets. Bring on the ending!


Size Doesn’t Matter (54): Arcadia BellBanishing the Dark by Jenn Bennett
Series: Arcadia Bell #4
Published by Pocket Books on May 27, 2014
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads
three-half-stars

The fourth and final installment of a "riveting" (RT Book reviews) urban fantasy series about a renegade mage and the demons who love her.

Complicated does not begin to describe Arcadia Bell's life right now: unnatural magical power, another brush with death, and a murderous mother who's not only overbearing but determined to take permanent possession of Cady's body.

Forced to delve deep into the mystery surrounding her own birth, Cady must uncover which evil spell her parents cast during her conception…and how to reverse it. Fast.

As she and her lover Lon embark on a dangerous journey through her magical past, Lon's teenage son Jupe sneaks off for his own investigation. Each family secret they uncover is darker than the last, and Cady, who has worn many identities—Moonchild, mage, fugitive—is about to add one more to the list.

Sadly, Banishing the Dark isn’t quite the strongest novel in the series in my opinion, though it’s still obviously very good.

One of my pet peeves is the addition of a new POV late in a series. All of the Arcadia Bell series has been Arcadia’s first person POV, and all of a sudden there’s Jupe’s third person limited POV. There are some plot reasons for this, but I think there are other ways this could have been done, and it was jarring. Also, these sections kind of split between trying to do a voicey third and a more traditional third, with the end result being that the Jupe contained in them is a bit less charmingly silly than the actual Jupe.

My other minor gripe is that I immediately crack shipped Jupe with Priya, only to have Jupe get another ship. I was really in love with that m/m ship though. Still, I can’t be too upset, because Bennett does include a solid, happy f/f couple and there’s an m/m couple referenced as well. They’re not main characters, but still it’s nice. Also, aside from Lon and Cady, basically every good person in this series is a POC, which is awesome.

Complaining aside, I truly am pretty happy with how this series ended. The plot’s still good. The way that Cady’s powers evolve works really well. Again, Bennett avoided making her powers too convenient or easy to solve problems with. I love that, when it came down to the boss battle with her mom, View Spoiler ». It’s an ending that could have been a bit anticlimactic, but Bennett pulls it off. It very much felt right for the characters and the plot.

Plus, and I know I sound like a broken record, I am just so fucking impressed that Bennett got me to ship this ship as much as I do. Their chemistry keeps getting better and better, and it’s really unbelievable to me. View Spoiler » Like, I even love that she’s acting as Jupe’s mom for real now even though she’s only like ten years older. Who even am I? How has Bennett done this???

I’ve not read too many paranormal/urban fantasy adult romance series, but this one very much stands out from what I’ve read. I do think Bennett’s YA debut, The Anatomical Shape of a Heart was better, but the Arcadia Bell series is most definitely worth reading.

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