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Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning

November 1, 2010

Publisher: Dell

Publication Date: August 28, 2007

Format: Paperback

Status: First in a series of five books, according to the FAQ on Moning’s website. Four of the five have already been published. Book five, Shadowfever, comes out January 18, 2011.

Source: Purchased by self

Genre: Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy

Other Info: I think this book walks the line between Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy. I’ve only read the first book–but in every other Romance I’ve read, the couple gets together by the end of the book. The end is more complicated here, and I think it’s AWESOME!

Description: (From the the author’s website):

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 was totally skeptical before I decided to read this book. I knew Karen Marie Moning wrote Highlander books and, well, to put it politely, I avoid Highlander books. Another strike against Moning was my peculiar aversion to stories about the Fae. They just don’t interest me as much as werewolves and vampires and other supernatural beings. I’m not sure why. It’s probably because they’re so pretty–and I prefer my heroes manly. Not hairy. Manly. Plus, there’s the fact that the Fae are inherently untrustworthy. They’re always finding loopholes and it’s frustrating just reading about it.

But. I loved this book. It was an Afterlife book for me, almost from the first page. I didn’t think I was going to like Mac, but I did, right away. I’m a sucker for first person p.o.v. and I enjoyed Mac’s voice right off the bat. I think what I like best about her is that she thinks about material things–clothes, nail polish, her hair–and so do I. Especially the nail polish thing. I often feel like heroines who like things like nail polish or love to shop or take pleasure in clothes that feel pretty are made to be shallow. It makes me angry, because wearing that new nail polish you just bought is a simple pleasure. It gives you a boost. Every time I look at my toes, I get pleasure from it and I don’t like it when writers try to make me feel bad about that. I take pleasure in other things, too, after all. I stop and smell roses–literally. Just about this time of year, I revel in the turning of the leaves. I admit that there are more meaningful things in life,  but just because nail polish isn’t the most meaningful, that doesn’t mean it has no meaning.

I’d also like to mention that sometimes superficial things can make or break a situation. Let’s say you’re having a bad day. First, you left the house five minutes late for work. Then you got pulled over and the cop didn’t let you off with a warning–this time you got a ticket. You know this means that your insurance premium will get a hefty increase, which sucks because you also have to pay back the dentist for that crown you got last month. In addition to that, you just found out that your daughter decided not to come home for Thanksgiving–she’s going to her boyfriend’s parents’ house. Then, just when you were consoling yourself that at least you’d have Junior, when he calls to tell you that he can’t afford to pay for his flight home on Thanksgiving and if you want him to come you’re going to have to pay for it. Which reminds you of the ticket you got that morning, which reminds you of your insurance premium…Sounds like the nightmare version of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, doesn’t it? Well, let me get to my point. It’s this: Imagine this sucky day was yours. But you’re holding it together. You know that as soon as you get home you can talk to your husband about it. But when you do get home and take off your shoes and that’s when you notice that the toenails you painted so carefully yesterday haven’t dried a pale pearly pink like the polish in the bottle. Instead, they’re streaky and messy and it looks like a two-year old painted them. Everyone’s familiar with the old adage, “The straw that broke the camel’s back.” Well, let me put it this way: sometimes it’s the little things that hold us together. So it make sense that they are the things that finally make us crumble. Moning addresses this in her book in a way I really admire. See, I did have a point related to Darkfever! I can’t believe you doubted me.

Okay, now on to more book-related topics. Darkfever works very well as both a mystery and an urban fantasy/paranormal romance. The book begins with the catalyst that sets the story in motion: the death of Mac’s sister Alina. Alina’s body is found in an alley, the condition of which is revealed through the course of the novel. When the police are unable to make any headway in finding Alina’s killer, and Mac hears a message Alina left her just before she died, Mac decides (against the wishes of her parents) to go to Dublin to begin her own investigation. What Mac doesn’t know is that she’s made a decision that will change her whole life.

Darkfever is, as I mentioned, told in the first person narrative. Furthermore, Mac tells the story as a reflection, not as it happened. Sometimes, the sense of immediacy is lost when an author uses this technique. But, in Darkfever, Mac’s future perspective does the complete opposite. You know that Mac will still be alive when the story is over, but Moning gives us hints that she will suffer terribly before the end. That makes us ache and tremble all the more in the novel’s tenser moments. And it has a lot. There were many times when I feared for Mac. Knowing that she was going to live through whatever it was almost made it worse.

I loved this novel not just for Mac and the world-building, but the way the plot is built. It’s got all the  hallmarks of a great series. Moning knows where she’s going with her story and she knows how to get us interested in going along with her (and Mac). She also knows how to paint delicious male characters. Although I’m a little unsure about V’lane, I’m willing to, er, spend some more time getting to know him. Jerricho Barrons practically reinvents the strong, surly, is-he-or-isn’t-he? hero. Even though I like him, I really, really, really, really hope that he gets what’s coming to him for the way he treats Mac. I have a feeling that, since there are four more novels that I have yet to read, Barrons will dance ever closer to a line he shouldn’t cross. Thing is, I can’t wait to get my hands on the rest of the books anyway. I’m totally kicking myself for not making this Fever Series Week instead of New (Old) Series Week.

I’m totally psyched to begin this week’s reviews on such a high note. I hope my luck lasts. See you tomorrow for the Giveaway Contest.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 2, 2010 6:02 pm

    I loved these books! One of the best things about the series is that she doesn’t just jump into bed with the guy. Also, the love/hate relationship the reader has with Jericho is so much more fun than with the typical perfect hero. I’m dying for the final book. You might want to hold off reading the latest one until it’s out, the cliffhanger ending is driving me insane.

    • November 2, 2010 6:58 pm

      I was thinking of saving all the books in the series until the last one gets out. Then I could do an entire Fever Series buildup week. I’m excited just thinking about it.

      It’s funny you should say that about Mac not jumping into bed with Barrons. I posted a request for rec for just such a book on LibraryThing. It was exactly what I was looking for.

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