Review: Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning

Darkfever (Fever #1) by Karen Marie Moning How did I get it: The library.

Why did I get it: I’ve been hearing about this series for ages and now that the last book is out, I figured I’d give it a try.

How I would rate it: 3 out of 5 stars.


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.

Review: I know I’m pretty late to the party when it comes to both this book and the Fever series. So I would like to state for the record that my intention in this review is not to rain on anyone’s parade. Everything in this review is simply my opinion based on my reading experience.

Darkfever was definitely entertaining and definitely engaging at different points in time, but I think the book suffers from too much foreshadowing and repetition of phrases like “Little did I know” or “Later I would find out.” I also found some of the more normal aspects of the book really artificial and stereotypical. Maybe it comes from having lived in Ireland for a semester when I was in college, but I didn’t feel that the Irish people or aspects of the book’s setting were based on reality so much as based on what most people would assume Ireland was like. Whether this was intentional or not, I don’t know, but it was distracting for me as a reader.

Jericho Barrons was probably my favorite character if I had to pick one. He’s a brooding, distant guy most of the time, but he owns a book store and is obsessed with finding a magical book so of course I like him. At least he was competent and I think being around Mac would have made me cranky too. That said, given his attitude and Mac’s attitude, I don’t get why he likes Mac at all by the end of the book. I guess that gets dealt with later on in the series, but I have to say I never like it when a guy magically stops being a grump and likes a girl he constantly considered to be an idiot. It’s just bad news all around.

Anyway, I liked the plot and most of the characters. I loved Moning’s take on fairies and the complexities of the two opposing courts. I definitely liked the cast of villains and how creepy the Unseelie were when they weren’t trying to have sex with Mac. As a warning to those who haven’t started this series, there’s a lot of strong sexual content and a lot of it involves nearly non-consensual goings-on. And while I don’t object to sexual content, I found a lot of the scenes in here to be sort of unfun to read. Two of the more intense scenes were triggered by V’Lane, one of the Unseelie. I honestly don’t know what I was supposed to think of V’Lane as a character. Am I supposed to like him? Was the almost forced sex supposed to make me think he’s hot or get me all hot and bothered? Ugh.

Speaking of liking and ugh, Mac was also not my cup of tea as a main or female character. I feel bad about that in a way, but as I’ve said in other reviews, characters typically make or break books for me. And in every genre fiction there just seems to be a lot of characters who know too much or characters who know too little. Either way I lose as a reader because the first category leaves me with a character who is like a walking encyclopedia set and the second category leaves me with a character who has all the survival instincts of a lemming but none of its charm. Unfortunately Mac fell into that second category.

I say unfortunate because I like for a character to at least know something of value before learning about another world, dimension, their own new powers, and/or races of supernatural creatures. Mac mostly knows about… Well, the color pink and nail polish. I like pink and nail polish too, but that’s not really enough to make me emotionally connect with a fictional character.

I liked that Mac was in Ireland because she loved her sister. I liked that she wanted the answers no one else was willing to fight to get and that Mac had a lot of personal issues to tackle, but I didn’t like that she was not given the right tools as a character to do much about anything on her own. And did this book really have to include paragraphs about the bad grades she got in school and how little she cared about every subject? As a female reader, I found this offensive. I did not need Mac to be dumb in order for me to like her. In fact, the more average and unintelligent she was made out to be, the less I liked her.

In conclusion, Darkfever fell somewhere between good and okay for me. It was enjoyable for the most part and I’m curious to see what happens with Mac personality-wise and in terms of her tracking down her sister’s killer so I gave the book 3 out of 5 stars.

Honestly though, I cannot decide if I want to read more of the Fever series. On one hand, I do want to learn more about the world Mac’s just found and this series does count towards the Horror & Urban Fantasy Reading Challenge I’m doing for 2011. On the other hand, I have a ton of books to read and if I wanted to read fairy urban fantasy fiction that has some sexual content, I could always give the first few books of the Merry Gentry series by Laurell K. Hamilton a re-read.

So to those who have read the series and finished it, I have to ask: Do you wish you hadn’t bothered? Or was it really worth it? Does the series get better? Does Mac grow on you?

Please, please let me know! I’m so torn.

About April

I'm a librarian, reader, and writer whose main goal in life is to be able to swim in books the way Scrooge McDuck swims in money. Although my reading choices will always be wildly eclectic and I never plan on leaving any genre unexplored, my favorite reads tend to be Fantasy, Young Adult, Science Fiction, Gay Romance, or Historical Fiction. You can e-mail me at inspector[dot]librarian[at]gmail[dot]com.
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