3 stars,  fantasy,  urban fantasy

Review: ‘Darkfever’ by Karen Marie Moning

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Synopsis (taken from GoodReads.com)

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….


When the final book in this series came out, it seemed as though my Google Reader was filled with glowing reviews.  Since I was intrigued enough by the idea of a dark take on the fae, I requested the first in the series from the library and settled in to start at the beginning.

Mac in the first few chapters of the book reminded me a heck of a lot of Sookie Stackhouse from Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire series.  She goes to great lengths to explain how wonderfully happy-go-lucky she is, she’s blonde and thin and more concerned with maintaining a tan and perfect manicure than doing anything meaningful and works in a bar for the love of it.  Moning does a great job of creating an image that’s completely at odds with the darkness of Dublin’s back streets.  I suppose you could say that she does too good a job.  So intent does she seem on maintaining it that Mac wastes no opportunity to describe her pretty outfits (right down to the name of her nail varnish!), frilly underwear, luscious blonde hair, lithe young body etc…I get it, you’re attractive, please move on.  

For a start to a series, it’s alright but that’s probably the best I’d say.  I’ve not read of books about the fae so I was interested in the associated mythology and history. I didn’t feel dumped upon as the artefacts and key fae characters and monsters are introduced only as fast as Mac can learn about them and note them in her journal.  Every now and then I felt a bit confused but I’d rather feel muddled for a short-time than read page after page of misplaced history lessons.  

Aside from Mac, the main other character is the apparently brash Jerricho Barrons. Often described with the attention to detail that Mac lavishes upon herself but still a much more intriguing cast member. There’s a lot that isn’t known about Jerricho and I’m still not clear on whether I’m supposed to like him or whether he has a bad streak hidden away. He made up a lot for the Mac’s in-your-face.

The duo’s adventures are showered with encounters with vampires (that may or may not actually be vampires), gangsters, a fae prince that inflicts some kind of death-by-orgasm torture (pretty weird!) and plenty of other sinister beings haunting Dublin’s alleys.  The atmosphere is gloomy and appropriately malignant.  So you see, there were points that I liked amongst the bits I didn’t so hopefully this whole review won’t come across as horribly negative.

Ultimately though, I couldn’t find the love that a lot of people seem to for this book/series becauase there were a few things that let it down that seemed fundamental to Moning’s style. They bothered me while I was reading it but bother me even more in retrospect.  Aside from Mac’s obsession with her appearance, there are far too many lines of the “If only I’d known that…”/”Little did I know then that…”/”That was all about to change” ilk for my liking.  The first couple of times it was a little annoying but since Mac still wasn’t aware of the impending disaster, I could forgive it.  Anyway, it happens for the whole book and, rather than create tension (which I assume was the idea), managed to disrupt it.  Part of the joy of reading books like this should be never knowing what is coming next or which corner the nasties are hiding behind.  Hints from the narrator are bothersome.  At least to me.

This is also one of those books that is very much part of a series.  If I’m reading the first book in a series, I like it to work reasonably well as a stand-alone in that the particular focus or plot of that book is rounded of but leave enough mystery in general to spur me on to the next book.  That sounds really picky!  Hopefully you know what I mean…the main plot of this one is Mac’s pursuit of the her sister’s murderer.  As the story hastens to an end, that’s dealt with swiftly so that the remainder of the series (I’m guessing) can be set up.  Disappointing.   

Overall:  A fair pass at a start to a series.  This review sounds as though I hated the book and I didn’t.  It was annoying in places but it was a quick, easy read that did hold my attention.  I’m not exactly clamouring to get hold of Bloodfever but if I happen across it at a library, I’d possibly pick it up.  Bottom line: I wouldn’t part with actual money to read the rest of the series but I’d probably carry on if a free opportunity came up.  

e finished:  21January 2012
Format:  Paperback
Source:  Library
Genre:  Fantasy; Urban Fantasy
Published: by Delacorte Press in October 2006