Kindling the Moon
Arcadia Bell, Book #1
Review Brought to you by OBS staff member Verushka
Being the spawn of two infamous occultists (and alleged murderers) isn’t easy, but freewheeling magician Arcadia “Cady” Bell knows how to make the best of a crummy situation. After hiding out for seven years, she’s carved an incognito niche for herself slinging drinks at the demon-friendly Tambuku Tiki Lounge.
But she receives an ultimatum when unexpected surveillance footage of her notorious parents surfaces: either prove their innocence or surrender herself. Unfortunately, the only witness to the crimes was an elusive Æthyric demon, and Cady has no idea how to find it. She teams up with Lon Butler, an enigmatic demonologist with a special talent for sexual spells and an arcane library of priceless stolen grimoires. Their research soon escalates into a storm of conflict involving missing police evidence, the decadent Hellfire Club, a ruthless bounty hunter, and a powerful occult society that operates way outside the law. If Cady can’t clear her family name soon, she’ll be forced to sacrifice her own life . . . and no amount of running will save her this time.
Arcadia Bell is a fugitive from the law, she has been so since her parents were accused of a series of gruesome murders and they went on the run, changing theirs and their daughter’s identity. Further to that, they split from her, choosing to go their separate ways in order to keep her, and them safe.
When we meet Arcadia, or rather, Cady, her parents have been exposed, and rival magical organizations are out for their blood, or Arcadia’s if her parents aren’t captured in time. So begins her search for the demon that committed the murders, and her attempt to save her parents and herself, from death.
There is not much that situates this book as different from the wealth of other titles in this genre, but what differences there are, were welcomed by me as I read this book. Arcadia is the snappy, mysteriously-powerful heroine, in ways she does not understand (and ties in with her parents, so I’m not going to say much more here) who falls for the demon-guy, Lon, who she asks for help in identifying the demon that committed the murders that sent her family on the run.
Lon, and rarely have I ever felt this about a male character in this genre as a love interest, is a bit of a stand-out. Other than being demonic, he comes packaged with a hyperactive 13-year old son, who he loves fiercely, and who will always come first to him, even above Arcadia. And that is something that makes me enjoy the character and the book all the more. Jupe, his son makes Lon more than the requsite love interest in this book, and gives him a tangible past, with mistakes that he has had to work through that have nothing to do with Arcadia. He is much older than Arcadia, and while the age difference is acknowledged it did not make much of a difference to me with their characters.
There are spells which involve kissing and sex with Arcadia, I could have done without, though. It was cliched and silly when the rest of the book was so well done. Surely there was another way the same conclusion could have been reached? Thankfully it doesn’t take up much time in the book, and it’s worth working your way past.
The world building is pretty interesting, especially in regards to the classes/types of demons that populate the pages of the book.
Arcadia, as a character, like I mentioned above, is unique in her own way for her magick society believes she is a sort of messiah, as do her parents. She does not, as her powers have never manifested, and you guessed it, until this book. That part is fairly routine, but the twist in the end involving her parents did leave me astonished. I’m not going to go into it here, but I thought that the author’s skill saved Arcadia from what could have easily placed her in a bad light (it’s a good twist, and I’m trying not to spoil it, so trust me and go read it).
Arcadia is stronger for what she does in the end, but I hope the consequences of her decisions are ones she deals with, and works through in whatever books follow this one. As much as she has been defined by what her parents thought her to be, after this book, her world fundamentally changes and needs to be re-defined. Is it bad to want her to suffer for it? I think it will make for a better second book, and make this heroine stand out in a genre in which there are too many characters like her who never seem to suffer for the hard decisions they make.