Monday, June 17, 2013

Review: Binding the Shadows (Arcadia Bell, #3)


Binding the Shadows (Arcadia Bell, #3)Author: Jenn Bennett
Series: Arcadia Bell, #3
Release date: May 28th 2013
Publisher: Pocket
Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages
Buy: The Book Depository

In the third book in this beloved and “riveting” (Romantic Times) urban fantasy series, demon-friendly tiki bar owner Arcadia Bell discovers more about her own evolving, and possibly destructive, magical abilities when her bar is the target of a demonic crime wave.
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 herdestroys everything—and everyone—she loves? If she survives this adventure, one thing is certain: it's last call for life as she knows it.

I’ve long come to realize that most of my favorite Urban Fantasy series feature a steady, reliable, loving couple… or even a family: Kate and Curran (and Julie), Mercy and Adam (and Jesse) and of course Cady and Lon (and Jupe). It is a perfect way for authors to both remove all unnecessary drama and make us care deeply about more than one main character. This works for me every time, and while the three relationships I’ve mentioned aren’t all that similar, I’m equally invested in them all.

In Binding the Shadows, things are coming at Cady’s little family from all sides: Lon’s extended family is in town, his ex-wife shows up to make their lives miserable, two teens rob Cady’s bar and hurt her partner in the process, and on top of it all, a strange drug is being distributed around town and Lon and Cady must get involved.

Bennett achieved the perfect balance between action and character development, blending the two seamlessly. To be fair, Cady didn’t need much in the way of personal growth, she was quite amazing from the beginning, but by facing personal issues in Binding the Shadows, her own insecurities and fears, she’s shown that she’s just as mature as her (much) older boyfriend.

Jupe is still the highlight of this series. Without him, it wouldn’t be nearly as heartwarming or entertaining. I love his relationship with Cady and Lon, the honesty and affection that pour out of every page. With the addition of a few more secondary characters, Bennett completed a picture of a large, loving (if slightly disfunctional) family that will find its place in your heart between one heartbeat and the next.

The only thing I didn’t appreciate was the giant cliffhanger we were left with. I. Do. Not. Like. Cliffhangers! I understand that it’s all part of a larger story arc, but I think it could/should have been done differently. With a whole year between installments, cliffhangers are unnecessary and a bit cruel to the fans.

Nevertheless, this is a series I count among my all-time favorites and Jenn Bennett keeps proving her worth as a writer over and over again. Crossing the AEthyir can’t come soon enough.


17 comments:

  1. This is another series that I haven't heard of before Maja, seriously where have you been hiding these? I think you had me sold when you mentioned the author blended in well action with character development, that's exactly what I want my reads to deliver too. I hate cliffhanger endings too, I hope you don't have to wait too long for the next book. Lovely review!

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  2. I've been planning to start this series, though I'll wait now because of the cliffhanger. Still, I love those stable families you mentioned and this sounds right up my alley - I'll have to chek it out for sure! :)

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  3. Brilliant review! I've seen this series on a lot of blogs so I must read it to see what the hype is about. I'm glad that the protagonist showed her insecurities as well as her personal issues, it makes the min character seem more human. I don't like it when characters aren't portrayed with any flaws - it makes them less relatable and harder to empathise with. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing :)

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  4. Wonderful review Maja! This is yet another compelling series that I haven't started, and aah I feel like such a pathetic excuse for a blogger. How could I not have even heard of this series?! After reading your glowing review, I'm definitely going to fix that. I love Urban Fantasy novels! It's a shame I haven't read too many of them, though, because they are so interesting and unique. YAY for character development. :D I love it when a character grows throughout a book, it's such a warm fuzzy feeling. :') Thanks for the fabulous review, Maja!

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  5. I agree about urban fantasies -- my faves are the ones with that family element, too. It doesn't have to be a "real" nuclear family, it can be a family of friends and loved ones. I haven't read this series but it sounds like I need to!

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  6. I do not like cliffhangers either Maja, but it sounds like everything else about this one is a win! I'm with you on families or established couples in UF, I really love that dynamic as well. I of course adore the tension leading up to the relationship, but there's just something comforting about not having to worry about petty relationship drama and instead getting to focus on the couple or family against the world:)

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  7. I am so glad this was another great addition to the series and that you enjoyed it. I am guilty of having not read this one (or any of the books) yet. But I agree, some of my favorite series have some kind of family unit in them. Whether that be friends, children or people they have just "adopted" into their little circle.
    I never realized that until reading this post though, too funny!

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  8. That cliffhanger was a doozy too, huh?! I LOVED this one, definitely my favorite installment by far. So glad you loved it too! Waiting is going to be awful...

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  9. You're so right about the couples/families. It definitely avoids the romance drama and triangles that seem to plague so many books. I don't like the sound of the cliffhanger but I'm definitely intrigued by the series. I think I might wait until the next book is released before diving in. Thanks for the recommendation!

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  10. UGH cliffhangers. They might be my very least favorite thing, trumping even love triangles in eyerollworthiness. I need to check this series out, because I love the solid family units in the Kate Daniels and Mercy Thompson series, so I'm sure I'll love Cady, Lon and Jupe too. Once again, I walk away from your blog with another UF series I can't wait to devour. Now if you could somehow pass on hours in the day the way you pass on awesome book recs, I'd be set! :-)

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  11. CLIFFIE???? NooooOOOOoooOOOOOooooOOOO! *dramatic faint*

    Gah! I hate those so much. I also know I need this book. I'm with you, it's the family that makes this series and Jupe in particular. Love that kid!

    Hm... now I'm wondering if I should get this one closer to the next one coming out... Hm...

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  12. Another new series I have to start! I'm in love with urban fantasies, besides contemp they are my favorite, but there are so few of them I follow. I'm so glad you reviewed this book and brought it to my attention. I'm definitely going to check it out. Thanks, Maja :)

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  13. ARRGH, A big fat giant cliffie. WTH! I was so happy reading the review and seeing that high rating until I read that line. A series to read down the road!

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  14. Oh this book was awesome and I just love this series, I'm glad you liked it!

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  15. I'll put this on my list of UF series' I need to read. I don't like cliffhangers either but by the time I get to this the next book will probably be out! I downloaded the first book in the Mercy Thompson series. Another audiobook for me. I can't wait to start it. :)

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  16. Oh dang dang dang! Three books in already!?! Geez. I have book 1 here waiting for me, and sooooo need to get to it. :)

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  17. yay for another awesome urban fantasy. Seriously.. this list of mine keeps growing lol, I hope ill get to it :D sounds like fun. I absolutely love character development and the way it progresses through the series!
    Not a fan of cliffhangers either :( hope book 4 is already out.

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