Review: Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning



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 Vlane–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….


I curse every mother fucking day that I only spent only one day in Dublin.

Had I read this book back then, maybe I would’ve dug my heels in and demanded more time in that beautiful city. My time there was short, but memorable. And here’s my input: Moning got it right. She painted a Dublin that I remember. She was able to capture the people, the old buildings, the atmosphere, without making it into a cliche. The city of Dublin is a great part of the world building of the Fever series. It’s not until you’ve re-read this series that you realize how talented Moning is at world building.

Full dark had fallen and Dublin was brilliantly lit. There’d been a recent rain, and against the coal of night, the shiny cobbled streets gleamed amber, rose, and neon-blue from reflected lamps and signs. The architecture was a kind I’d seen before only in books and movies: Old World, elegant, and grand. 

Mac comes to Dublin searching for vengeance.She’s a barbie girl searching for death. On the outside she’s a pretty girl with pink nails and shiny silk outfits, but on the inside she’s hurt and looking for blood. She’s immature and innocent when she first meets Barrons, but by the end of this book she’s a little less so. She walks into Barrons Books and Baubles (he owns a bookshop for crying out loud!) looking for an ancient artifact her sister was looking for. I won’t repeat the spelling because the Irish language has some serious accents that I won’t even try to replicate. It’s a book and it’s more dangerous than she can even gather. Barrons wants nothing to do with her. But she gets into his hair, and then she discovers what she is. Then she’s angry for people telling this to her. HOW DARE THEY TELL HER THE TRUTH! Damn those realistic petunias assholes and their reality. But she changes and she learns how to be safe because of Barrons. Barrons is one smart motherfucker. He’s a perfectionist. He has a use for Mac and her special talent. She’s a Null, which basically means that she can track this artifact. He helps her find her sister’s killer and she helps him find the book.

The interesting thing about Mac and Barrons is that despite being very different people, they seem to be attracted to each other. Neither likes this fact and ignores it with every ounce of defiance. But eventually they begin to build a relationship that could almost be considered a partnership.

My relationship with this book is a headache and a half. I hated Mac and her pink nails. Her rants, her petunia cursing, her TSTL moments, her ever loving rendition of NONONONOSHUTUPIDONTWANTTOHEARIT!! But, I think in my re-read I began to understand her and why she’s the way she is.

She’s wasn’t as annoying this time, that’s a plus. But she still had her moments of annoying immaturity.

Mac is a sheltered, southern, sun girl. She comes from a small town in Georgia, born in a privileged family, and she had no ambitions. She’s very much a barbie doll, and the author smartly recognizes this. She’s very immature. But the reason is clear as the day is long: her upbringing. She is so fucking sheltered, it’s not even funny. Her life, before she got the call that her sister was murdered in Ireland, was perfect. All she had to think about was nail polish and what shiny silver sandals she was going to wear that day. She had no troubles in her life. And as such, I think it’s clear why she doesn’t want Barrons bringing that perfection and innocence to a rigid stop. She’s never lived a life where things are in a crap-pile. While I wouldn’t say I like her, I understand her. I don’t hate her as much as I used to. She’s immature, innocent, and doesn’t understand the reality of her situation. But in this one book, she grows a lot.

What I do like about her is her determination to find her sister’s killer. She wants vengeance and I respect that. A lot. I also really like that she’s not ashamed that she’s a girl. I like that she’s not the leather in pants cliche of a urban fantasy heroine. That gets old. I don’t care about the MC’s looks and I don’t care about Mac’s, but I do like that she’s a confident woman who is proud of the way she looks. Whether the way she dresses is the way a high school girl would dress or not, I can admire her confidence. I’m so sick of the demure and bashful main character that constantly tries to tell the reader how “plain” she is. Get over it. I don’t need to you to tell me you’re plain and then find out you’re gorgeous. It’s misleading and idiotic. Then there’s the scene at the end of the book where she really grows a pair and faces reality. She may not be kickass yet, but she certainly kicked some faery butt.

She doesn’t grow out of her immature attitude, but she does come to learn some important lessons. Moning’s development of her characters is no short of amazing. They are so flawed and they demand that you feel every inch of every possible emotion you could ever feel while reading this book. I recognize this now, while I didn’t before. The fact that Moning was able to make me feel so much is a great compliment to her skills. But that she was still able to make me feel so much the second time around is fucking incredible.

One of my favorite scenes is when Mac see’s Barrons walking through a dark alleyway. It gave me the shivers the first time, and it still does. She’s just so bloody brilliant at pacing. With the most insignificant scenes she’ll make you feel EVERYTHING!

First you shiver. Then you get goosebumps all along your arms. Then, your heart starts to beat faster. Then your eyes pop out. Then you put the book down and stare at the room to make sure all the lights are on. Lastly, you go get that DAMN BOTTLE OF VODKA FOR COMFORT.

Because shit, she’s good at making you scared. If it’s not the descriptions of the monsters:

its mouth–which consumed the entire lower half of its hideous face–wasn’t pink inside, it had a tongue and gums that were the same gray color as the rest of its rotting flesh covered with the same wet sores. It had no lips and double rows of teeth like a shark. 

It’s the dark alley:

The only sounds were the muted muffle of my footsteps and the slow dripping of gutters emptying into drainpipes.

If it’s not the dark alley, it’s the sexy Barrons:

His blood-red silk shirt was splattered with rain and molded to his hard body like a damp second skin. 

If it’s not Barrons, oh who are you kidding HE IS SEX ON A STICK.

He’s motherfucking Barrons, whom I wasn’t attracted to before but am now. He’s just so LICKABLE. That’s what she said. Licks. Lots of them.

I hated him when I first read this book. So much hate. I was so concentrated on all of his jerk moves, his annoying dominance, and his demands that I forgot how sexy he is. I’m usually not into the asshole guy, but Barrons is so sexy that he defies logic. He’s the type of guy you know you shouldn’t be attracted to, but you are. There is no reality when it comes to your attraction to Barrons. How did I not realize this? Who the fuck cares anymore? NO ONE. Either you like him or you don’t. Or you hate him the first time and then re-read the book and suddenly he is JOE MANGANIELLO.

He’s just okay, let me put this in perspective. He does this:

“But considering everything that’s after you, I don’t need to, do I, Ms. Lane? Which puts us right back where we started: Go to your room and do not come out again for any reason until I come for you. Do you understand me?”

No one deserves that you prick.

and then he does this:

Barrons bent his head over my hand, applying pale pink polish to my ring finger with exacting care. He looked big and muscular and male and silly painting my fingernails, like a Roman centurion decked out in a frilly chef’s apron. 

That is so damn sweet, if you know Barrons. He wouldn’t do this for just anyone. IT’S A BIG DEAL.

But then there’s the whole “who the fuck cares” side of Barrons that is just so damn appealing:

He studied me with his predator’s gaze, assessing me from head to toe. I studied him back. He didn’t just occupy space; he saturated it. The room had been full of books before, now it was full of him. 

GULP. VODKA. NOW.

And then you grab that bottle again because you hate that you’re attracted to him while at the same time YOU HAVE NO SHAME.

The cool thing about this book is Moning’s ability to plant clues. My original thought is that because I hated the characters so much, I din’t think Moning was that good of a writer. But, she is. She’s really quite talented. Her world building has very little nicks and cranies. Her world feels more real than the majority of the Urban Fantasy novels I’ve read. Her characters while annoying, they are incredibly developed in ways I never appreciated before. Her plotting in this book is a slow build, but an exciting one. You get to see the Faery lore first hand through Mac’s samplings of her journal along the way. She doesn’t info dump you through conversations, she gives you a dictionary.

I will not mention V’lane. I will not mention V’lane. I will not mention V’lane. Ah screw it! He is so scary. No I am not team who gives a fuck. He’s an ass. He’s scary. Forcing a girl to her knees and almost raping her IS NOT SEXY. I’ve read about the type of faery he is. They are called Gancanagh, or love talker. They have a sort of fae magic that has to do with putting a spell on women that makes them have incurable and forcible lust. That is scary. When you have no choice, but to be a attracted to someone. It’s sick. It’s sad. It’s disgusting. I don’t like him. Never have.

AHEM:

This book’s purpose is to get the reader to understand the characters and the world. Her characters hide so many things and I think that’s why it takes such a long time for you to learn their secrets. Barrons is not an open box. He’s a closed one with a bomb ready for anyone who opens it, with chains wrapped around it, and a big honking lock around the whole thing. His secrets are as sacred and hidden as the artifacts he hunts.

Damn me and my mouth. While in America my mouth is on a roller coaster, but in Ireland? I shut up and don’t say anything. I should have said something! I wanted to see more of it. This is what Ireland does. It dumbs you up. Next time, I want to stay in Dublin for good.

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2 thoughts on “Review: Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning

  1. Brigid says:

    I’m on the third book and actually loving it so much more than second time round. Now I see the love. It’s so damn addicting. I can’t wait to see what happens in Burned, even though I’m still so behind in the series.

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