Reviewed by Tori
Banishing the Dark, fourth and final book in Jenn Bennett’s Arcadia Bell series, is the showdown we have all been waiting for. Arcadia (Cady) Bell, renegade mage and bar owner, is the Moonchild and has been in hiding ever since her parents tried to sacrifice her. At the end of book three, Binding the Shadows, readers were left with Cady almost fatally beaten and in a coma. Banishing the Dark picks up a few weeks later with Cady waking up from her coma and having a limited memory of what happened to her.
Cady has absolutely no downtime in here. Cady’s mother has found a way to cross the barriers of her magical prison and is now attempting to take over Cady’s body and soul. Cady learns she has to find the original ritual her mother and father used to conceive her and reverse it if she has any hope of defeating her mother. As Cady and Lon follow a twisted path filled with lies, deception, and betrayal, it will take everything Cady has if she is to survive the night.
Bennett’s Arcadia Bell series has been a whirlwind adventure that offers readers high octane action and magical suspense with some sweet romance and dry cutting humor from the very beginning. A perfect balance of power and vulnerability. We are not overburdened with emotional angst or ridiculous unbelievable feats. Multiple plotlines and ripe tension is tempered with everyday life events. It has been a thrilling ride as we have watched Cady grow from a solitary lonely figure to having friends, family, and a lover. Her personality has grown with each book. The world building has stayed fresh and exciting with constant evolution as we travel through an alternative magical version California.
Though romance isn’t usually a high priority in urban fantasy, Bennett uses a deft hand to build a believable romance for Cady with her lover Lon. Lon, a demon and member of the Hellfire Club has always had her back 100 percent though he does struggle with some residual guilt in here as her injuries were a direct result of a Hellfire Club member. A club he introduced her too. Their romance remains strong and for reasons I can’t divulge, let’s just say that while Cady is ready and willing, Lon is not and it makes for some very funny scenes. One particular scene has Cady texting Lon when he is about 2 feet away from her and she’s trying to tempt him into bed with her.
Sent 11:30 a.m.: What you doing over there?
MSG from Lon, 11:30 a.m.: Researching.
Me: You could do that over here.
Lon: You need to sleep.
Me: Don’t worry. I’m too tired to jump you.
Lon: A shame. But I don’t trust myself.
Me: Come to think of it, I don’t trust myself, either.
Let’s not trust ourselves together.
P.S. You smell really good. I mean that in a creepy way.
Come over here and let me sniff your skin like some crazy stalker.
Lon: Are you feeling okay?
Me: Be feeling better if you’d just come over here.
Lon: Don’t make me call management to restrain you.
Me: I’d much rather you do it yourself.
Lon: Go. To. Sleep.
Various characters (new and old) come into play as their recollections are needed to help put the puzzle together. Jupe has to be my favorite character in the series. Though always a strong player, I did like that he was given a more active role in helping Cady overcome her greatest foe-her own mother. Having his POV provides some definite entertainment.
The beginning started out slow and tends to stay at that pace as Lon and Cady work to discover who told Dare about Cady’s true identity. About 90% of the book is Lon and Cady following a trail of clues to find the Moonchild ritual. Cady learns more about what happened during her childhood years and discovers her repertoire of demon knacks has increased. Jupe’s storyline intertwines and bringsmuch humor to the book. Bennett expands her occult mythology to help further explain Cady’s supposed destiny and bring it all home. There is a lot going on in here but Bennett’s clear and concise writing makes it easy for readers to follow along.
I did have issues with the conflict resolution. It resolves rather quickly with little fanfare. I expected more violence and combat since this is what the series has been leading us to since the beginning. On the whole, it was a little disappointing. As this is the end of the series, we are in luck that Bennett includes an epilogue that lets us know how Lon, Cady, and Jupe are faring in the future.
While I am sad this is the last we shall see of Arcadia Bell’s world, I do believe fans of the series will be pleased with the care and consideration Bennett used in her goodbye.
**I have one copy of Banishing the Dark to giveaway to one lucky reader. Comment below for a chance to win. Winner will be chosen at random on Friday 5/30/2014. This giveaway is open to US commenters only. **