Friday, January 17, 2014

Review: Binding the Shadows by Jenn Bennett

Title: Binding the Shadows
Author: Jenn Bennett
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Arcadia Bell #3 

Mass Market Paperback, 366 pages 
Publication: May 28th 2013 by Pocket Books 

Source: I won a copy from the author's twitter giveaway. 

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Renegade mage and bartender Arcadia Bell has had a rough year, but now the door to her already unstable world is unhinging. When a citywide crime wave erupts, Cady's demon-friendly tiki bar is robbed by Earthbounds wielding surreal demonic abilities that just flat-out shouldn't exist. With the help of her devilishly delicious boyfriend, Lon Butler, Cady sets out to find the people who wronged her—but her targets aren't the only ones experiencing unnatural metamorphoses. Can Cady track down the monsters responsible before the monster inside her destroys everything—and everyone—she loves? If she survives this adventure, one thing is certain: it's last call for life as she knows it.

The Arcadia Bell series is one of my favorite urban fantasy series; solidifying its place early on when it first debuted in 2011 with Kindling the Moon. When I first began this series, I knew I was in for something special and unique. Simply put, there wasn’t anything like the series then and there still isn’t now because this is urban fantasy at its best. Now, three books into the series I am more in love with this series than I first started; reminding me why I love the UF genre so much. Because like fine wine; this series gets better and better over time. 

What makes this series standout amongst other urban fantasy series is its incredible world-building and the characters that populate it. I wouldn’t say that Cady has changed much since the first book (besides a physical/power transformation) because she was already a strong and likeable protagonist. When readers first met Cady she was already a successful owner of the Tambuku Tiki Lounge/bar, owns her own house and is one of the most powerful magicians around.  What did grow and mature over the course of the three books is her relationship with Lon and his son Jupe. Cady and Lon’s relationship has definitely strengthened since the last book with Cady living with Lon/Jupe, they’re happy and are secure in their relationship and Cady being another parent/role model figure for Jupe. But things get more complicated when Lon’s ex-wife and family come for a visit and Cady discovers her mom is still alive and well on another plane. Some of my favorite scenes were of Lon’s extended family and revelations of Cady’s conception; both the happy and not-so-happy moments. 

I am not a fan of cliffhangers. I honestly seen my deal of the dreadful cliffhangers…but Bennett’s takes the cake. It was like a multitude of cliffhangers jammed into the last 2 chapters…BAM BAM BAM.  Binding the Shadows was a very intense and emotional book. Readers felt exactly what the characters were feeling as if we were the one experiencing it. Many reviewers expressed their anger over the cliffhanger and how cruel the author was for ending it the way it did…surprisingly I wasn’t mad; just in plain shock. My head and heart was literally hurting and that has never happened before. 

It takes a good writer to create a memorable story but an amazing talented author to evoke the emotions and bond we feel with the characters within the book…and Bennett did just that. I have so much love for this series and I know this review isn’t even adequate to express how I feel. All I can say is read this series, you won’t regret it. This is a series that should be on everyone’s shelf and an author on your auto-buy list. It’s definitely on mine. Binding the Shadows is by far the best in the series…and that’s saying something because the series is already top-notch urban fantasy. I’m a little glad that I waited to read this book with that crazy ending because book 4 is only a few months away (couldn’t fathom waiting a year). I am dying to find out what happens next! In the meantime to hold me over till then; I’ll be reading the author’s newest book, Bitter Spirits and will probably do a reread of all three books before May.  

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