Book Review: Banishing the Dark by Jenn Bennett

Posted April 20, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 6 Comments

Book Review: Banishing the Dark by Jenn Bennett

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Banishing the Dark by Jenn Bennett
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Published by Pocket on May 27, 2014
Pages: 384
Source: the library


Complicated does not begin to describe Arcadia Bell's life right now: unnatural magical power, another brush with death, and a murderous mother who's not only overbearing but determined to take permanent possession of Cady's body.

Forced to delve deep into the mystery surrounding her own birth, Cady must uncover which evil spell her parents cast during her conception…and how to reverse it. Fast. As she and her lover Lon embark on a dangerous journey through her magical past, Lon's teenage son Jupe sneaks off for his own investigation. Each family secret they uncover is darker than the last, and Cady, who has worn many identities—Moonchild, mage, fugitive—is about to add one more to the list.

Also by this author: Bitter Spirits, Grim Shadows, Grave Phantoms

Fourth and last in the Arcadia Bell urban fantasy series and revolving around Cady Bell, the Moonchild.

My Take

It’s that pregnancy that creates one of the story conflicts. For Cady’s mother CANNOT know that Cady is pregnant. All the taunting Enola does about the people she will force Cady to kill…and to have her learn about the baby?? No.

Jupe has the standard concerns about a new baby in the family. It’s a tension that Bennett starts to build on and then abandons. She’s made her point, no point in belaboring it. I’m sure Bennett’s sure that we’ll remember and its promising tension just goes to waste.

I do adore Jupe. He’s sweet, he’s real, and he has all the normal reactions of a fourteen-year-old horny about girls, lol. Boys may want to read this for some tips on gettin’ close, *more laughter*

It’s both a bit of a laugh and a bit of a groan…and cute as well as we read about Cady fighting her attraction to Lon. I mean, she barely knows the guy! It sure makes things interesting when they get to the coastal town and their cheesy motels. Having to find things to do… Yeah, the way that Lon and Cady get around it is a trope, and Bennett handles it clumsily, but it is a useful technique.

“‘You bastard!’ I said, shoving him back. ‘You knocked me up!’

‘You helped!'”

We do learn a lot about Cady’s parents, the lengths to which they’ll go for power. And it’s not pretty. It makes some serial killers seem like choir boys. The deeper Cady and Lon dig into Cady’s past, the more they learn and the more Cady remembers. And the more they learn about her parents’ partners in crime.

There are times when I wonder just how old Cady is when she has such immature reactions. Lon’s suggestion that she learn to use her skills before her mother attacks? Sounds good to me, so why is Cady fighting it?

One of the aspects of Arcadia Bell that I enjoy, and it’s a nice twist Bennett has put on demons, making them more than human. Considering that Cady’s parents are human, and I would much prefer demon company to theirs. They’re not the only humans I’d be afraid of either. Although, I have a difficult time wanting to get up close and personal with what Cady does turn into. Eeek.

Bennett has different takes on how the Earthbound came about. None of which seem to agree (I may just be very confused, who me?), and I do wish she had made this more clear. In the second book, she says the Earthbounds are demons who were originally pulled into human bodies by a magician in the Roanoke Colonies. In Binding the Shadows, 3, I got the impression that a magician had to be involved. Although, there does seem to be a distinction between regular Earthbound and transmutated Earthbound. The latter are able to mutate into their demon forms.

Ain’t it the way? Rooke explains the reasons why he left the E∴E∴, and it sounds as if magi are just like the rest of the world with issues and problems, whining and…well, being boring suburbanites too up in their own egos.

There’s an intriguing twist on the snake in the garden of Eden and the reason why snakes have venom. It’s one of the reasons I adore reading, all the different ideas and perspectives other people have. I absolutely love it. I also love how Bennett used that trope of everything being too conveniently available to her protagonist. Because it wasn’t easy for her. I would have liked a bit more tension, make me worry more, but the amount Bennett used was consistent with the rest of the story. So stop yer whinin’! Sometimes, I just don’t know about me. Then Bennett gets slick with slipping in that bit of foreshadowing and part of what Cady will do in her future. All those bits and pieces coming together. It’s obvious when you get to that point, and you tot up all the stops that got her there. And it’s an easy trick writers might want to have a look at.

I gotta say, Bennett has come up with some doozies in this one. She definitely got my heart racing in places — and in completely opposite ways, lol. That penultimate scene? Yep, there are as many ways to look at the past as there are people to remember it.

While I’m not happy that Bennett has ended the series, she has ended it well — with a bit to grow on *grin*. But I will miss Lon and Jupe — they were my favorites in this.

The Story

Nothing like another impossible task. This time, Cady must find the spell her mother used to conceive Cady and reverse it or die if, when, her mother crosses the planes to take her, to possess her.

The Characters

Arcadia “Cady” Bell, a.k.a., Sélène Duval, called Mother of Ahriman by the demons, is a Moonchild, conceived by her parents to kill. Priya is an Æthryic guardian, a Hermeneus spirit, given to Cady to watch over her. Kar Yee Tsang is Cady’s partner in the tiki bar they own, the Tambuku. Amanda will become head bartender. Mr. Piggy is Cady’s pet hedgehog. Tabitha Rose Bell Butler was two weeks early.

Lon Butler is a Kerub demon with an empathy knack and is a very talented, famous photographer. He’s also in love with Cady. Jupe is Lon’s fourteen-year-old motormouth, precocious son and a Kerub demon like his dad, only Jupe has the voice of persuasion for his knack. Foxglove is his chocolate Lab. Mr. and Mrs. Holiday are the couple who take care of Lon’s house and yard. Yvonne is Jupe’s nutjob of a mother. Gramma Rose Giovanni is Yvonne’s mother, and surprisingly, a nice lady. Auntie Adella is Yvonne’s sister, and wouldn’t spit on her if Yvonne was dying of thirst. Jack Yamamoto is one of Jupe’s friends.

Karlan Rooke is a former grandmaster for the E∴E∴ in Pasadena, and now he has created a rare plants garden: The Witches’ Garden. His daughter is Evie Rooke. Dr. Spendlove is an Earthbound psychiatrist who used to treat Jupe. Father Carrow is a retired Earthbound priest who had introduced Cady and Lon. Bob is Dr. Feelgood, an Earthbound with a lesser healing knack than his dad.

Dr. Mick Bright is an Earthbound doctor with a healing knack and is an old friend of Lon’s. Hajo is a death dowser, and it seems, a former drug addict and dealer. Robert Wildeye is a private investigator. June is a waitress at the diner. Bobby Wilde is a retired pilot.

Arturo Archard is one of the eleven remaining Hellfire Club officers and owns a vineyard. Tomkins and Warner will fight to lead the club if Lon doesn’t take the job. Tomkins also wants his kid to take one of the two empty seats. Dare’s son, Mark, and Sharon Wood are also on the list.

Enola Artaud Duval is the wicked mother whom Cady banished to the Æthyr. Her father, Alexander Duval, is dead, thankfully. Her parents were serial killers using the occult to murder their way around the world. Victor Duval was Cady’s older brother, the one she never knew. Scivina was Enola’s guardian spirit. Ambrose Dare died in Binding the Shadows. Yeahhh! Sarah Dare is now his widow.

Ned is one of the pet shop owners. Parson Payne is a regular customer.

Grand Duke Chora is a grand duke and commander of two legions of Æthryic warriors.

The Ekklesia Eleusia (E∴E∴) is…
… a respected esoteric society in occult circles with its main headquarters in Miami. The Caliph is the head of the order. And Cady’s godfather as well as one of the VERY few who knew Cady was still alive. Adrien is his oldest son. Magus Frances was one of the Caliph’s magi.

There’s a local branch of the E∴E∴ in Morella: the Bull and Scorpion Lodge. Leticia Vega is the daughter and granddaughter of its grandmasters. And right around Jupe’s age. Her slut of a sister, Cristina, loves to be the living altar at their masses. It’s a celebration of women’s power. Uh-huh. I’m more likely to go with what Grandma Vega thinks about it. She used to know the Duvals back in the day.

Earthbounds are demons (who look like humans) who happen to be much lower down the scale from the Æthyric demons. Savages are humans who don’t believe that the Earthbound exist. Servitors are Heka balls of focused magical energy that gather information in a variety of ways. Heka is the name of the magic used in this series.

Naos Ophites are a heretical Gnostic sect that worshipped the snake from the Garden of Eden for giving humanity the gift of wisdom.

The Cover and Title

The cover is a background of green trees arching over a well-lit road that to a future with the shadow of a caduceus lying upon it. It’s a jean-clad Cady wearing a deep golden tank top, walking toward us, glancing down at the shadow.

The title tells it true, Cady is Banishing the Dark.

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6 responses to “Book Review: Banishing the Dark by Jenn Bennett

    • It’s a good ‘un, Felicia. Bennett twists the whole idea of demons and magic on its head. Who would’a thought we’d be cheering for the demons!? It’s rather cozy with some sweet core characters.

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