Kindling the Moon: Wildly successful characterization

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsurban fantasy book reviews Jenn Bennett Arcadia Bell 1. Kindling the MoonKindling the Moon by Jenn Bennett

Seven years ago, Arcadia “Cady” Bell’s occultist parents were accused of four murders. They faked their deaths and Cady’s, and the family went into hiding: the parents together, Cady separately. Now, Cady co-owns and tends bar at the Tambuku Tiki Lounge, which caters to both human and demon patrons. Then, when the media discovers her parents are still alive, the rival magical lodge Luxe demands that either they or Cady pay the price for the murders. Cady sets out to prove her parents’ innocence instead. But to do that, she’ll need to learn the identity of the one witness who knows the truth — a powerful Aethyric demon — and summon it to give an account of what really happened.

Jenn Bennett lays out a fascinating paranormal world in Kindling the Moon. It’s based in large part on ceremonial magic and on medieval demonology. There are several types of demons: imps, who can pass freely between worlds and wreak minor havoc; Earthbound, who live in human bodies and pass as human (these are the ones who frequent Cady’s bar); and Aethyric demons, who live on another plane and are summoned, controlled, and banished by human magicians. Cady is a rogue and an oddity in this world, mixing magical styles in a way that no one quite approves of.

To me, one of the most important aspects of urban fantasy is characterization. The series I follow religiously are usually the ones where I want to spend as much time with the characters as possible! Bennett succeeds wildly in that regard. Cady is a relatable character with a good mix of toughness and vulnerability. She has to deal with some heartbreaking situations in this story and it’s easy to sympathize with her. Her love interest, Lon Butler, is enigmatic and standoffish at first, and acts like a jerk sometimes, but is likable at his core. Lon’s teenage son is simply adorable. And the three of them in the same room together have a great dynamic with lots of warmth and humor. The secondary characters are interesting too, especially a young female adversary of Cady’s who I suspect we’ll be seeing more of.

As for the plot, it’s an exciting one with some twists, though I wish there had been more emphasis on sleuthing. Most of Cady’s information comes either from Lon’s connections or through magic. This works fine, but there’s one scene where Cady masquerades as a reporter to question two occultists who knew her parents, and I enjoyed that scene and wished there were more like it.

I really liked Kindling the Moon and look forward to spending more time with Cady and friends. Book two, Summoning the Night, is scheduled for release in April 2012. Oh, and I looked up that name the demons call Cady — and let’s just say there’s a lot of interesting potential there…


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KELLY LASITER, with us since July 2008, is a mild-mannered academic administrative assistant by day, but at night she rules over a private empire of tottering bookshelves. Kelly is most fond of fantasy set in a historical setting (a la Jo Graham) or in a setting that echoes a real historical period (a la George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey). She also enjoys urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance, though she believes these subgenres’ recent burst in popularity has resulted in an excess of dreck. She is a sucker for pretty prose (she majored in English, after all) and mythological themes.

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