Whoo, boy, this one was fun!
I enjoyed the hell out of Jenn Bennett’s debut urban fantasy novel. I’ve tried so many new UF series the last few months as I tried to fill the void until the next Mercy Thompson installment comes out in 2013 (arg!) and so many have been “meh” to me—but this (along with Rachel Vincent’s new Blood Bound series and Rachel Caine’s new Working Stiff series) is an exception. I would almost give Kindling the Moon must-read status, but the resolution came very quickly, and it felt jarring to me as a result.
Arcadia Bell is a 100% awesome main character. She’s not a typical “kickass” urban fantasy heroine. She’s smart and funny, but she’s not some magic-wielding ninja who can take down an army of werebears with a roundhouse kick and a nose wiggle.* She’s vulnerable and loyal and hard-working. She’s part-owner of a freaking tiki bar with her legitimately weirdo college friend. Yay, yay, yay! She also has a pet hedgehog, which is a fun touch. Lon is an awesome love interest and a nuanced character on his own. (Gold star for that!) He’s a demon, so obviously he’s kind of a badass, but he’s also obsessed with ancient books and is sort of a geeky eccentric who’s really funny. Jupe is Lon’s teenage (13) son and rather than existing as a backdrop to the story, as in so many books, he’s a fully fleshed-out character who propels the story forward. From the teaser for the sequel, it looks like Jupe will be important in the next book. Yay.
I often have a hard time with urban fantasy that have world built on a system of magic. I don’t know… I think magic is just too “magic-y” for me a lot of the time (I know, I know… this makes a ton of sense)—perhaps too close to high fantasy for me or something. However, this novel, like the aforementioned Blood Bound has a multi-layered magical world that’s also understandable. I didn’t feel like I needed to keep a notebook next to me to understand it.
There’s also an interesting society surrounding the magical world involving creepy secret societies (akin to the Freemasons) which I can’t wait to learn more about in the following books. Buried within the story of the society are some interesting themes related to the ramifications of zealotry, which really piqued my interest—I hope this continues, because it offers a lot of potential with regard to future world-building.
Finally, can we just pause for a moment and honor the designer of this cover, who managed to create a cover of an urban fantasy novel that reflects both the characters and plot of the actual novel. This may be a first.
- I hate “magic” spelled “magick.” Just throwing that out there. Every time I read an urban fantasy novel with it spelled this way, I get the urge to do a find-change in calibre and fix that little annoyance.
- I feel like I need to get this out there as a warning for folks who’re reading this review and considering reading this book. Lon has a mustache. A mustache that can only be describe as “pirate-like.” At one point, he actuallystrokes his mustache like a freaking pirate! If imagery like this disturbs you, don’t worry, the mustache only plays a minor role in the book. Thank goodness. Because when he was first introduced I got very, very nervous because of the mustache situation.
When I was reading this book, I updated my Goodreads status to, “A magician/tiki bar owner and a demon/rare book collector solve a mystery—what could go wrong?” And that’s really the crux of this story, which makes it so, so, so fun. Recommended, despite that Lon’s pirate mustache is profoundly unsexy. I’ll definitely be preordering the sequel.
*Okay, I’d totally read a book starring that heroine. Because a magic ninja girl fighting werebears would be kind of badass.
Verdict: Highly Recommended