Review: Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning

Posted June 1, 2018 by Kim in books, review / 0 Comments

Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning
Series: Fever (#1)
Published: October 31st 2006
Publisher: Delacorte Press

“My name is MacKayla, Mac for short. I’m a sidhe-seer, one who sees the Fae, a fact I accepted only recently and very reluctantly.

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. Not since the walls between Man and Fae came down. But then, there’s not a sidhe-seer alive who’s had a good day since then.”

When MacKayla’s sister was murdered, she left a single clue to her death, a cryptic message on Mac’s cell phone. Journeying to Ireland in search of answers, Mac is soon faced with an even greater challenge: staying alive long enough to master 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…while at the same time, the ruthless V’lane – an alpha Fae who makes sex an addiction for human women – closes in on her. As the boundary between worlds begins to crumble, Mac’s true mission becomes clear: to 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 both worlds in their hands.

A beautiful girl travels to Dublin, with vengeance in her heart but no tangible plan in mind. She learns that Ireland is home to many things: the place of her sister’s murder, a dude, more dudes that are not quite as imposing as the aforementioned dude, a really creepy prince, and fae. Everyone loves fae.

Except Mackayla Lane, who discovers that she is one of the few sidhe-seers left in the world. Our darling of the South is left to navigate a whole new world from the content life she once lived in Alabama.

“If you are not with me, Ms. Lane, you are against me. I have no mercy for my enemies.” (56)

Mac took a bit of time to get behind, but I loved how aware and proud she was of her femininity. The retrospective narration wasn’t doing her a lot of favors in the beginning, because the fun in stories like these start when our main character is finally aware of the paranormal. Mac spends a large portion of the introduction recounting how resistant she was to the idea of fae. Mac makes it clear that she knows better now with side comments that only a narrator with foresight could make. It got frustrating quickly, because I know you know they exist, but we’re stuck at this impasse regardless. The first quarter of the book, or the “I don’t believe in supernatural creatures pfft,” period, dragged the longest.

There were also a few instances where Mac would say something like, “I’ll spare you the details.” It started feeling like lazy storytelling because, no, give me the information please. I want to know. You have this rich world with fascinating and morally ambiguous characters, so why would you not want to utilize it at every opportunity?

Barrons and V’Lane

“And there, my dear Fio, you make one of Womankind’s greatest mistakes: falling in love with a man’s potential. We so rarely share the same view of it, and even more rarely care to achieve it. Stop pining for the man you think I could be—and take a good, long, hard look at the man I am.” (186)

Jericho Barrons is the voice of my favorite lines in Darkfever. He’s a captivating character. It’s so easy to let myself believe the man is a good person, if he’s even a man to begin with. You never quite know who Barrons is, much less what he stands for. But I would place my bets on him a million times over.

Barrons and V’Lane are both disturbing men in their own rights, but I have a questionably healthy respect for the former and the latter grosses me out. What I don’t understand is how Mac is willing to give some level of trust to everyone, even a Prince who crosses every line imaginable, but not the man who has saved her life over and over. It’s one thing if she doesn’t trust anyone, and it wouldn’t be particularly smart for her to trust Barrons. But I just can’t follow the logic of why she makes it a point to be anti-Barrons when he’s the only one who seems to have some regard for her dignity and life. If you’re going to trust anyone, I sure as hell wouldn’t start with anybody you meet in Ireland.

Except I guess it’s a hard way to live for any person, especially one who’s premises have all been turned upside down. Everything Mac’s ever known has to be reevaluated, and when nothing feels safe and you’re tired, you just want someone to tell you it’s going to be okay. You don’t want to be on guard all the time.

“[…] But I am not the man you believe me to be. You have romanticized me unforgivably.” (186)

Send Me Your Location

Barron’s Bookstore might just be an ideal place with so many books collected in one place. It also doubles as a fortress, which is pretty cool. I just need to forget that there are nasty Shades living in close proximity.

The abandoned area that Mac wanders into is a pretty scary concept. There’s nothing that stops regular people from walking in, but all traces of that place has vanished from records and maps. If you find yourself there when all the things that go bump in the night come out to play, there’s no one who can help you escape but yourself.

“Air ye deaf, lass?”
I think. He might have called me hairy jackass. (30)

Darkfever was unexpectedly funny at times, especially when Barrons adopts an almost petulant attitude out of no where. Some of his retorts are strangely human for someone who always seems larger than life. I can still remember his line about refusing to help Mac shave her legs, when she wasn’t asking in the first place.

“Well, your book is just wrong,” he said flatly.
“No, yours is,” I said just as flatly. (148)

I’m fond of Mac and Barron’s dynamic. It’s definitely as dangerous as playing with fire, but I can see all the fun I’ll have with them.

Spoilers: The Alpha Alternative

They worked this scene into the seventh book, Burned, so I only skimmed over it because I was really curious. I spent a whole book in Mac’s head, but I wanted at least a little peek into who Jericho Barrons really is. And you can only get that by diving into his head. What I didn’t expect was how pivotal this scene would be. Every first-person narration is inherently unreliable on some level, but the extra content that was originally titled The Alpha Alternative reminded me that Mac is a human dealing with supernatural forces.

Mac might have her own clever abilities, but she’s still susceptible to the influences of powers she doesn’t know how to combat. How much of what she knows has been compromised by Barrons, V’Lane, or some other creature we don’t understand yet? How much of what she knows is from what other characters tell her; characters we certainly can’t trust. I’m excited to find out.

Rating Report
Characters
3.5 star rating
Plot
3.5 star rating
Writing
3 star rating
Pacing
3 star rating
Overall 3.25 stars

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