Summoning the Night (an Arcadia Bell novel)
Pocket / April 24, 2012 / $7.99
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.
Hands down, Jenn Bennett writes some of the best characters: They’re relatable, approachable, and gosh darn it, near perfection. Lon, Cady, and Jupe especially have carved out little places in my heart with their frank dialogue, realist character growth, and overall interactions with one another. I’m pretty sure they could make a tale about wallpapering Jupe’s room interesting.
In Bennett’s latest, Summoning The Night, two new characters are introduced to the series, and I have a strong suspicion they’re here to stay. Both become pretty involved as the plot unfolds, and readers have the opportunity to get know each of them. You don’t quite understand them necessarily, but that adds to their mystic.
First we’re introduced to Bob, the Tambuku barfly and general low-life. Bob is an earth-bound who’s unattractive in a weasel kind of way, fond of Hawaiian shirts, and is the only person who can get away with calling Cady “Caddybell”—kinda. Its important for Bob to “know” all the earthbounds of Morella, so when Cady needs the assistance of a death dowser, a person who can track dead bodies, but doesn’t know of one, Bob is her man. Bob could have easily been written as an inconsequential side character, someone the reader wouldn’t become attached to. But that’s not how Ms Bennett rolls. I have feelings for Bob. I felt sorry for him, mainly, but I was also interested in him. I’m especially interested to see what he might do with the character growth we witness throughout the plot. Bob will definitely grow on you.
Next we’re introduced to Hajo, the slick and slimy guy who’s part drug dealer, part guy you don’t ever want to know. Unless you need a death dowser. And unfortunately Cady does. He has “smoldering good looks,” but as he begins to speak that quickly dies. You get the feeling that the saying “he’d sell out his mama just to get ahead” was created because of him. I never stopped trusting him for a second, but every so often he let his guard slip and say something like, “...You try wielding this knack and see how cheery it makes you” and all of a sudden you’re feeling a little sorry for him. You begin hoping that his morals and standards are somehow redeemable. Honestly, though, they better not be redeemable because with his strong feelings towards Cady, if he becomes a worth-while man he might try to make an attempt for her. That would be no bueno.
These new characters are so contrasting from the main characters I’ve grown so fond of. Lon, Arcadia, and Jupe aren’t perfect people (thankfully) but they have integrity. They always do their best; they often times have others’ best interest above their own. Bob and Hajo? Not so much. But it doesn’t make them any less great. I love the depth those differences provide. And you will too.
Jessica Turner reviews Urban Fantasy, Paranormal and Sci-Fi Romances on her site The Spinecracker and is a trained chef who lives in San Diego with her very Irish husband.