Early Review: Summoning the Night by Jenn Bennett
*This title will be released on April 24, 2012*
Magick. Murder. Mayhem.
It’s all in a night’s work. . . .
After narrowly escaping her fate as a sacrificial scapegoat, Arcadia Bell’s life 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.
Look out Mercy, Rachel, and Sookie, the urban fantasy genre has a fierce new heroine in Arcadia Bell! Bartender and magician Cady made her mark on the genre with 2011’s KINDLING THE MOON and with SUMMONING THE NIGHT she is rightly taking her place alongside some of the big names. The worldbuilding full of magic and Earthbound demons is refreshing and exciting, the pace relentless, the romance subdued and sizzling in turn, and the characters engaging and oh so likeable.
Speaking of likeable, yes, Cady is an amazing protagonist who is smart and brave but not at the expense of common sense, and yes, her love interest Lon is a stone cold fox who looks like a rakish pirate and can transform into full on Hellboy mode when the need arises (and happily it does plenty of times in SUMMONING THE NIGHT), but the character who most completely stole my heart is the one I expected to like the least: Lon’s fourteen year old son Jupe.
I’m generally not a fan of kids (especially teenagers) in urban fantasy, mostly because in my experience they tend to be little more than annoying, wannabe comedy relief characters who cause more problems then they solve. Adam’s daughter in the Mercy Thompson series and Charlie’s daughter in the Charlie Madigan series are two exceptions, and I’m thrilled to add Jupe to the top of that list. The kid is funny and smart and a little bit of a punk in a truly endearing way. Far from hindering the scenes he was in, he made them better.
My love for Jupe carried over the debut, and my only tiny criticism is that once again I thought the identity of the villain was a tad too obvious as soon as they were introduced. I do wish there had been a few less hints until later on so that the revelation could have had more impact. But unlike the debut, I was genuinely afraid while reading this time. The stakes were sky high and suitably dire. I’ve become so invested in the main character trio that I was completely invested in their fate. There was some groundwork set up for the next Arcadia Bell book (BINDING THE SHADOWS due out in Spring 2013) that I’m equal parts apprehensive and excited to find out what happens next.