BOOK 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 started reading this book because it came highly recommended to me by a friend and I’m glad I gave it a read. Further, I saw several comparisons floating around comparing my writing to Ms. Moning’s. I can see what readers mean when they say that, in terms of pacing and descriptive writing styles. Other than that, however, we have very different stories, characters, and (IMO) audiences.
What I Liked
There’s no denying that Karen Marie Moning is an extremely talented author with a brilliant imagination. I really enjoyed her characters. I was impressed by how “alive” Mac’s sister was in the book. Yes, she was dead, but we got to know her through her story. It was like I could sense her personality throughout the story. Also, the world building in this story was brilliant (perhaps my favorite parts) and Ms. Moning did an amazon job unraveling this world throughout the story. The “Dark Zone” was inventive, and I loved learning about the Seelie, the Unseelie, the Sinsar Dubh, and everything else! Highly original.
I have to admit I was surprised by the inclusion of vampires toward the middle-end of the story, as the rest of the world building seemed so far beyond using that kind of “staple”.
What I Didn’t Like
First it’s worth mentioning that this just wasn’t “the book for me”. I WANTED to love it and I completely see why other people do. Karen Marie Moning MORE than deserves her success. However, for some reason, I just never got sucked in. It was a good book, but it didn’t demand my attention. There are books that I can’t put down and books I have to “make time to read”. This was a book I had to make time for, but THAT isn’t really a critical comment. the beauty of there being a wide selection of books is that everyone can find the perfect book for them. No book is perfect for everyone. So, even though it was really well-written and highly original, it just didn’t hook me into the series. I read the first half and then read about half a dozen other books before getting back to this one, and I may have only finished this book because it was in my purse when my kindle died during a 20-hour road trip. I am glad I read it though. It was a fun way to pass the time
As for actual critical comments, I don’t have many. I think I only spotted one typo/error in the whole book, and the things that did bother me I probably wouldn’t have noticed if I was more sucked into the story.
It was small things that made me take pause, though. For example, I was surprised Mac, in her early twenties, had never seen her birth certificate. I needed mine to get my license, to get my first job, and for various other occasions. My mom held onto it for me, but I still had to present it in these situations and I can’t imagine my mom doing that FOR me as a teen/young adult.
Then, toward the end of the book, she’s on the phone with her dad (SPOILER/Highlight to read it: around the time she is finding out she is adopted). Something he says sends her into thought, and she is thinking for a few paragraphs. Then she goes on about her day. At no point do we see the call being disconnected, so there was some momentary confusion for me at this part. I did read through that section twice, thinking I missed something, and perhaps I really did. If so, this is a reading error. If not, it’s still not a big deal.
The sex-fae thing was also just a little too far out there for me. IDK why, but I just couldn’t suspend disbelief for that aspect of the story. They are around and she wants sex with them so bad that she doesn’t realize she is stripping? When she does, she tries to stop, but then (without realizing it until after the fact) she’s taken her clothes off. The death-by-sex-fae is an interesting idea, but it was just the way that it was handled that didn’t (for me) have the same finesse as the rest of the story.
There were some similarities to the Sookie Stackhouse series (early on, it almost overbearing, but over time it turned into a HIGHLY original tale), but most notably I liked Mac more than Sookie, and I prefer Karen’s writing style to Charlaine’s. That said, I admit to immediate addiction with the Sookie Stackhouse series (Ms. Harris is one hell of a storyteller!), while I think I will be moving on from the Fever series as not being the ideal series for me. Darkfever, however, IS a book I would recommend others to try. I think most people would love this story, and I definitely personally found it enjoyable.
Please Note: None of this review may be used for promotional purposes.
Rebecca Hamilton writes Paranormal Fantasy, Gothic Horror, and Literary Fiction. She is represented by the ever-more-amazing Rossano Trentin of TZLA.
To purchase her books, please visit Paranormal Fantasy Books.