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Title: Darkfever (Fever Series, Book 1)
Author: Karen Marie Moning
Genre: Urban fantasy
The gist: Darkfever is like if Buffy the Vampire Slayer was actually Mac the Fairy Slayer and went on a quest to Ireland to avenge her sister’s murder.
Initial attraction: Potentially BAMFy character, fairies, and the opening lines are “My philosophy is pretty simple – any day nobody’s trying to kill me is a good day in my book. I haven’t had many good days lately.”
Cover art: Meh. There are a couple of different covers, but I wasn’t really into any of them. I did read this particular copy as an e-book, which also means the cover doesn’t get much attention from me because I only see it once when I start the book.
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…
As Mac delves deeper into the mystery of her sister’s death, her every move is shadowed by the dark, mysterious Jericho, a man with no past and only mockery for a future. As she begins to close in on the truth, the ruthless V’lane–an alpha Fae who makes sex an addiction for human women–closes in on her. And as the boundary between worlds begins to crumble, Mac’s true mission becomes clear: find the elusive Sinsar Dubh before someone else claims the all-powerful Dark Book–because whoever gets to it first holds nothing less than complete control of the very fabric of both worlds in their hands…
The best part: The main character’s voice is modern and a little spunky. She’s a bit over-interested in her clothes and looking pretty, but she also isn’t flinging herself at the first dark and brooding stranger to wander along, or the second, or the third. She starts off very Buffy with an I’m-not-the-Chosen-One-I’m-just-a-cheerleader sort of attitude but you can sense the potential for her character arc to grow substantially and that really propelled me forward into the story.
The worst part: Certainly the most annoying part was the constant descriptions of what Mac was wearing. It left me staring at the words, baffled, wondering if anybody really thinks like that. I mean, if I was in a completely foreign country on my own and hunting down my sister’s murderer with a whole bunch of people trying to kill me too, the last thing I would be worried about is whether my underwear matched my nightshirt or whether my ice-pink-princess-whatever-girly-color nail polish was chipping. I don’t actually begrudge anyone for such concerns and while it was annoyingly over-descriptive about such things it was also interesting to see such a vastly different point of view than my own.
Characters: The only character the reader really gets to know is Mac. While there are other characters introduced, they are never really explored or explained which is a bit annoying. Characters of particular interest who really need to be explained already: Broody McBrooder Brooderstein Barrons (OK, OK, his name is really Jericho Barrons, but he fulfills the amount of brooding that is apparently required in all urban fantasy), Barrons’ assistant Fiona, and V’lane the death-by-sex fae dude.
Plot: ‘Naïve girl travels afar and finds out she has Special Powers’ is not a particularly original plot, but it’s executed well and with original world-building that made it perfectly enjoyable. Also, I completely failed at guessing several bits of the plot, which is nice because it gets a bit annoying when I see everything coming from a mile away.
Setting: Ireland isn’t seen as much as the fantasy aspect of the landscape, which is just fine by me. The fae terminology is all based around Gaelic terms so it’s completely unpronounceable to me but I’m awarding bonus points for referencing the Spear of Longinus. The fae are all portrayed as vastly different form each other but they cast a glamour so that muggles see them as either really hot and attractive people or just don’t see them at all. Underneath the glamour they’re all kinds of fugly though, except for the fae royalty because… uh… because… divine right makes everyone prettier?
Writing style: The best part of the writing is the voice Moning created for Mac, after that I start wincing at some unusual choices such as how Mac jumps out of the story to foreshadow what’s going to happen or to lament about what just happened. I like the idea of the narrator inserting opinionated bits about what’s going on, but it’s done a bit awkwardly and in a way that threw me out of the story rather than dragging me in further. I hope that this is something that continues with improvement because the potential for snark amuses me.
In which I babble: So I broke down and read this as an e-book on my iPhone because I was bored somewhere without a book. Surprisingly I didn’t mind the format too much but it did leave me with several problems like having to continue reading it on my phone even after I got home and wanted a better medium to read in, and also not being able to jot down notes as I read to shove into this review for your entertainment.
I’d heard a couple of things about this series before I read the first book, such as: it’s a paranormal romance, it’s a bit graphic, the main character gets more likeable further into the series, that Barrons is totally smexy, that Barrons isn’t even remotely smexy, that the first book is a long-winded introduction to the rest of the series… To which my response was “Did I get the abridged version or something?” There isn’t really so much actual romance as there is the set up for potential future romance and it’s not particularly graphic which does give a bit of credence to the theory that the first book is an elaborate intro, but I suppose I will have to read book 2 before I know for sure. As for Barrons, he may be hawt (but really any character is, if you describe them as such) and I guess he’s smart but he also has a personality that makes me want to nail a post-it to his face, so I can’t see myself joining the swoon-fest over him.
You might also like: Darkfever reminds me a bit of Elizabeth Kerner’s Tales of Kolmar series which is the kind of thing that will probably make every one squint at me and tilt their head to the left while questioning my reading comprehension skills, so I should probably attempt to explain… the snippets of out-of-timeline comments are something that also happens in the Kolmar series and it’s also a romance-y type story with unpronounceable names with a strong female lead. Kerner’s Lanen is much less Alicia Silverstone though and much more Pocahontas meets Charlotte Doyle. The settings of the two stories are very different as well, with Kolmar being a completely medieval fantasy-esque setting (bonus dragon factor though).
Additional books by author: Can be found here.
Release date: 2006
Purchase the book here.