Book Review: Jenn Bennett’s Binding the Shadows

Posted March 18, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

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.

Book Review: Jenn Bennett’s Binding the Shadows

Binding the Shadows


Jenn Bennett

urban fantasy that was published by Pocket Books on May 28, 2013 and has 366 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Kindling the Moon, Summoning the Night, Bitter Spirits, Grim Shadows, Banishing the Dark, Grave Phantoms

Third in the Arcadia Bell urban fantasy series and revolving around Cady Bell and her “family”.

My Take

I don’t know what it is about this series, and I do enjoy it. There’s something so cozy and homey about it even as Cady leaps into trouble time and again. Then there’s that personal, um, genetic?, inheritance she keeps learning about. Ick.

I suspect it’s Lon. I adore him. He’s so warm, loving, and practical. I don’t think he leaves home without his gun! Then the complication of Jupe. It’s one that makes this whole story about family. Complications with the in-laws, the ex, a teenager feeling his hormones fluctuating. Add paranormal power to that and y’all should feel happy with your own teen monsters, LOL!

It’s written well enough and just misses being as terrific as something like Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter or Psy-Changeling or Kim Harrison’s Hollows. And no, I really can’t pin it down, unless it’s the lack of intense tension and drama those series have. I would compare it favorably with Diana Rowland’s Kara Gillian, Karen Chance’s Cassandra Palmer (okay, maybe Cassie has an edge here), or Benedict Jacka’s Alex Verus.

Getting back to this story, it’s personal when the crooks hit Tambuku and take Kar Yee down, but it’s not half as personal as Rose whacking away at Cady. And it just gets worse when we finally meet Yvonne. Oh, boy. Talk about family drama!

“Even Adella is beyond wanting to know her: “I’ll answer the phone when it’s the coroner’s office calling, asking me to identify your body.”

And I don’t blame Addy one bit. Wait’ll you see how well Yvonne holds up to what she claims to want.

Mmm, I do like that Lon likes to track Cady’s firsts.

There’s a reference to a boat in this story and Jupe’s knack. That would be the eShort, “Leashing the Tempest”, 2.5.

Oh, brother, does this sound familiar?

“…I made a few mistakes. I can’t keep paying for them.”

I gotta give Bennett major credit for the twist she’s put on this tale. Sure it’s a standard plotline with great personal danger facing Cady with major threats against those she loves, but whew, the type of danger!? Whoa. Part of me can’t wait to read and find out what happens next, and part of me wants to put it off for as long as possible. I just know Bennett is gonna twist me up with some tension and worry in Banishing the Dark, 4.

The Story

It’s crazy thefts and burglaries with Earthbounds using knacks and power levels they shouldn’t have while Dare is browbeating Cady into investigating the crime spree spreading throughout Morella.

Worse, Lon’s ex-in-laws have shown up and mama-in-law is making some outrageous demands.

The Characters

Arcadia “Cady” Bell, a.k.a., Selène Aysul Duval, is a magician with an inherited moon power. The demons call her Mother of Ahriman, mother of demons. She owns a bar, the Tambuku, in Morella, with her partner, Kar Yee Tsang, a Chinese ex-pat. Amanda has been promoted to assistant manager. Priya, a Heremeneus spirit, an asexual messenger entity, is the familiar who “died” in Kindling the Moon, 1.

Lon Butler, a professional photographer, is a transmutated Earthbound, a kerub demon with a knack for empathy, who is seriously dating Cady. Jupe is his fourteen-year-old son who has dived into restoring the 1967 GTO he got for his birthday in Summoning the Night, 2. Foxglove is their Labrador. Rose Giovanni, a.k.a., Gramma, is Lon’s ex-wife’s mother with a knack for clairaudience and is she ever a mean, nasty thing! Adella is the sister who teaches art history at the University of Portland. Yvonne is the fabulously gorgeous model addict of an ex-wife who used her knack to get Lon to marry her. Mr. and Mrs. Holiday are the couple who takes care of the house and grounds. Dr. Mick Bright is an old friend of Lon’s.

David Merrimoth is an Earthbound and Dare’s second-in-command. Ambrose Dare is the very rich and very powerful head of the Hellfire Club, a group of Earthbound demons who control most of the town of La Sirena. He owns Dare Energy Solutions and knows Cady’s true name. Beryl is an Earthbound minion of his. Peter Little is a former city councilman with a luck knack. Evan Johnson is the Hellfire jerk who distracted Yvonne. Very easily.

Bob, a.k.a., Dr. Feelgood, is an Earthbound with a milder version of his dad’s healing knack. Andrew runs the corner market near Tambuku. Nihal is a fellow restorer — he has a 1971 GTO — whom they meet at Speed Demon Rally. Father Carrow is both Earthbound and a former priest who is friends with Cady.

Hajo Kemme is a death dowser and drug dealer getting blackmailed by his neighbors. Darren is a scum bag trust fund party boy.

Noel Saint-Hill is one of Telly’s partners while Telly is a juvenile delinquent who needs a long stint in jail. Tabor seems to be a drug dealer.

Enola Duval is Cady’s mother. One of the Black Lodge Slayers who was taken by Nivella the White, an albino demon in Kindling the Moon. Victor Duval is an unknown brother. Grand Duke Chora, whom we met in Summoning the Night, may be in the other dimension, but he’s keeping busy and is a respected leader.

Heka is what they call magic in Cady’s world. Earthbounds are demons on the inside and humans on the outside; transmutated Earthbound are those Earthbound who get spelled by the Hellfire Club and become part of the Body, the governing part of Hellfire. Ekklesia Eleusia (E∴E∴) is a respected esoteric society in occult circles. The Caliph is the head of the order. And Cady’s godfather.

The Cover and Title

The cover is purpled with its cement block background with the black demon tattoo and Cady in her double-layered tank tops of black under bright purple as she leans against the wall, cocking a knee, an elbow, and her head in attitude and holding her cadeucus.

The title is nebulous and my best guess is that it’s about Cady’s rising abilities in Binding the Shadows as her power grows.