{Early Review} Summoning the Night by Jenn Bennett

Summoning the Night by Jenn Bennett

Jenn Bennett’s debut, Kindling the Moon, was one of my favorite urban fantasy releases of 2011. Her protagonist Arcadia Bell’s world of magic, good humor, family and community are what I’ve dubbed, “Urban fantasy with heart.”

Whenever I love the first entrant into a series as much as I did Kindling the Moon, reading the sequel is rather stress-inducing. What if it doesn’t live up to the first in the series? What if it’s a one-hit wonder?

I’m thrilled to say all my worries were needless—Summoning the Night exceeded all of my expectations and firmly cemented the Arcadia Bell series as one of my favorites.  

(Note: the rest of this review contains mild, but inevitable, spoilers for the previous book in this series, Kindling the Moon. Read my review of Kindling here.)

Summoning the Night picks up shortly after Kindling the Moon concludes. Cady is feeling her way through her new relationship with Lon and growing closer to Jupe, Lon’s endearing teenage son. They’re starting to look a bit like a family. However, things are unsettled in their northern California town of La Sirena as Halloween approaches and the children of members of the Hellfire Club—the hedonistic demon secret society of which Lon’s a member—begin disappearing, much like they had decades before. Cady and Lon are called upon by the club’s creeptastic leader to help solve the serial kidnappings—all while Jupe’s demon powers begin to manifest themselves.

Oh, and those Moonchild abilities Cady discovered in Kindling? She’s wrestling with that, too, 

Call me a chicken, I don’t give a damn. My ability was unnaturally created by two homicidal maniacs masquerading as parents. What good could come of using it? Too much magick could make even the gentlest of magicians go nutso, and I had crazy genes working against me. If I started experimenting with the Moonchild ability, I was worried some sort of insanity clock would start ticking inside me. How long would it be before it went off? A month? A year? A decade?

Summoning the Night has a much more suspenseful mystery than Kindling the Moon. While I correctly guessed the culprit early on, that didn’t take away from suspenseful unfolding of the mystery whatsoever. Lon and Cady make a badass duo, he with his demon powers and she with her magician skills (not a wizarding or witchery, FYI)

While the mystery keeps the book moving along at a nice clip, the characters are what makes novel shine, despite the “mustache situation.” 

I am staunchly anti-mustache. And yet, Jenn Bennett has managed to do what I previously though impossible: Love a mustachioed character**. Lon, Cady’s nerdy/badass* boyfriend continues to charm with his eccentricities and and cranky, yet endearing persona. His banter with Cady is always fun and their good-natured, affectionate teasing is charming.

I held up a copy of the society’s book about coastal farming in the 1800s, taken from Lon’s library. Why Lon owned it, I had no idea. He owned a lot of strange books—and I’m not talking about the ones on demon summoning, either; his avid interest in irrigation and composting was far more peculiar, if you asked me.

And the age difference that caused so much angst in the first installment of this series is more subdued, replaced by a far better angst—the realization Cady’s part that she, Lon and Jupe are becoming a family and what that all means. 

Lon shook his head. “Only the three of us.” He pointed for emphasis—one, two, three. “This is serious family business.” Us. Family. I was included. My mind raced back to the promises we’d made in the kitchen the other night and lumped it in with Jupe’s casual kiss on my forehead … and now this. Something fragile cracked inside me. My chest felt warm. I blinked away emotion as Lon’s eyes flicked to mine. Get it together, Bell.

I usually find the addition of children in urban fantasy extremely irksome (with the exception of Adam’s daughter in the Mercy Thompson series) because kids kind of get in the way of ass-kickery and evil-battling, but even more so than in the first book in the series, Jupe is a well-developed character in his own right; he doesn’t exist solely for comic relief of to create tension. Jupe’s developing powers and his increasingly close relationship with Cady have the potential, in a lot of ways, to shape much of the rest of the series. 

With this second installment, the Arcadia Bell series joins Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series as my favorite in the urban fantasy sub-genre.

It’s funny, because the two series have a number of similarities, despite the details of the worlds being quite different. They both have smart, capable protagonists teamed complex, somewhat frustrating—yet endearing—love interests and a community full of intriguing secondary characters. The romance isn’t too intense, yet it feels more fully developed than in many other series. But most of all, both series have heart (and I know I keep using that term) that makes them standout amidst a slew of urban fantasy offerings on the shelves these days—I care about and root for these characters. I’ll be tapping my fingers doubly waiting for Lon, Cady and Jupe’s next adventure.***

Publication Date: April 24, 2012

{Buy Summoning the Night at Amazon | BN | Powell’s}

{Buy Kindling the Moon at Amazon | BN | Powell’s}

{Add the series on Goodreads}

I received a copy of Summoning the Night from the author. No “goodies” or other compensation were received in exchange for this honest review.

*A rare and perfect combination.
**Jenn Bennett’s recent comparison of Lon to Deadwood-era Timothy Olyphant over on Pinterest certainly helped matters. *ahem* 
***My original text for this review was, “This series and book are awesome and you really should read it. But, that seemed a bit too succinct.  



Support Clear Eyes, Full Shelves

Buying via these links help support our hosting & podcast production costs.

    Free Delivery on all Books at the Book Depository  
{Review} The Sharp Time by Mary O'Connell

{Review} The Sharp Time by Mary O'Connell

{Review} The Wicked and The Just by J. Anderson Coats

{Review} The Wicked and The Just by J. Anderson Coats