Review: Darkfever and Bloodfever by Karen Marie Moning

With the upcoming release of Shadowfever on January 18th, Twitter has been, well, atwitter with references to the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning.

Until last week, I had ignored this author. Largely because I'm not a fan of fairy stories (thank you very much Laurell K. Hamilton) and because I can't help but go Jr. High and start giggling over the author's last name. Moning? Seriously?  *ahem*

But, seeing how many people know and love this series, I decided I needed to read at least one of them to understand the various references made.

There are a few things to know before starting this series.

1. This is not a romance series. I'm not quite sure what it is (I suck at classifying books by genre) but it's not a romance. I'd go with Urban Fantasy, but that brings to mind more Urban and less Fantasy, whereas this book is primarily fantasy with a little urban Dublin thrown in for color. There is some minor tension between some of the main characters, but this is grittier, more violent and lacks a Happily Ever After. Or any real relationship. At least in the first two books.

In fact, the publishers have rebranded the covers to remove the romance-y elements. The original cover for Darkfever looked very much like a BDB cover.

2. The books end with cliffhangers. Very little is resolved at the end of each book.

3. It's told in the first person. Some hate this POV, so ye are hereby warned.

4. There's lots of fairy/Gaelic words and terms. So many, in fact, that our lead character, Mac, has created her own glossary at the end of the book.

5. The characters are not "likable." Any of them. Not even Mac.

Pub Date: 2006
Publisher: Delacorte/Dell
Format: ebook (also available in mass market paperback)
FTC: Purchased myself

The Blurb:
MacKayla Lane’s life is good. She has great friends, a decent job, and a car that breaks down only every other week or so. In other words, she’s your perfectly ordinary twenty-first-century woman.
Or so she thinks... until something extraordinary happens.
When her sister is murdered, leaving a single clue to her death–a cryptic message on Mac’s cell phone–Mac journeys to Ireland in search of answers. The quest to find her sister’s killer draws her into a shadowy realm where nothing is as it seems, where good and evil wear the same treacherously seductive mask. She is soon faced with an even greater challenge: staying alive long enough to learn how to handle a power she had no idea she possessed–a gift that allows her to see beyond the world of man, into the dangerous realm of the Fae...
 I can definitely tell that Moning does not normally write in the first person. Her narrator, our heroine, over explains everything. She's a big teller, which she can get away with to an extent, but I'd like her to be a bit less telly and more showy.

First person narration can also be tricky when your main character isn't very likable. As is the case with Mac. She's shallow, overly concerned about her wardrobe and nail polish, and very naive. Fortunately, Mac is aware of her faults. She's not one of those characters who present themselves in favorable lights. In fact, I think she's overly hard on herself at times.

Adding to the lack of likability problem is Jericho Barrons, owner of Barron's Bookstore and Baubles, and Mac's reluctant mentor. So far, he's an ASS. Big time. I am not seeing everyone's fascination with him. To me, much of what happens to Mac could have been avoided if he spent less time being secretive and more time teaching Mac what she needs to know.

The deluge of terminology is a bit tiresome, but I like the passages where Mac describes seeing the Fae the best. Although Dublin is a big part of the story, I wish there were more setting present. It's still sketchy for me. I'd like to feel as if I'm walking down those streets , and so far, I don't.

Still, the characters and premise are interesting enough to make me want to continue.

My Grade: B/B-

Pub Date: 2007
Publisher: Delacorte/Dell
Format: ebook (also available in mass market paperback)
FTC: Purchased myself

The Blurb:
Mackayla Lane's ordinary life underwent a complete makeover when she landed on Ireland's shores and was plunged into a dark, deadly realm unlike any she ever imagined. In her fight to stay alive, Mac must find the Sinsar Dubh—a million-year old book of the blackest magic imaginable that holds the key to power over both the worlds of Fae and Man. Pursued by Fae assassins, surrounded by mysterious figures she knows she cannot trust, Mac finds herself torn between two deadly and irresistible men: V'lane, the insatiable Fae, who can turn sensual arousal into an obsession for any woman; and the ever-inscrutable Jericho Barrons, a man as alluring as he is mysterious.

After a bit of back story, this one picks up right where Darkfever leaves off. The continuing adventures of Mac, as it were. Much darker in tone than Darkfever, Bloodfever finds Mac in progressively more peril. As she learns more, she realizes she knows less than she needs to. It's like two steps forward, three steps back in the story of stuff Mac doesn't know.

Barrons is still an ass, although slivers of emotion do manage to wiggle their way through his enigmatic fa├žade.

I'm not a very big V'lane fan either. V'lane being a Seelie Prince with super sex power than can cause overwhelming lust and/or death by orgasm. That steps a little too closely to my LKH intolerance.

The writing and pacing are much better here. Mac spends less time being shallow and more time doing something. Not always helpful, smart, or positive things, but something all the same.

This is far, far more gruesome than the first book in the series. The ick factor is cranked up quite a bit. But to balance that, Mac is far snarkier, too. Which helps tone down her naive, youthful, and irritating POV from the first book. And she's less of a pathetic, whiny doormat, too.

Overall, I think I liked this one much better than the first. I am definitely hooked, even though the story and characters haven't wowed me in the same way they seem to have done for everyone else.

My Grade: B+

The Fever series:

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