Friday, February 8, 2013

Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning - Book Review

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

. . . .

Update; Though this isn't the most favorable review, the series gets exponentially better.  I won't change my review for Darkfever since these are my honest thoughts after reading, but believe me when I say this turns into one of the most addictive, dark and sexy series ever.

. . . .

By now, I venture into urban fantasy with some trepidation.  They all, for the most part, follow the same formula; sassy heroine, gorgeous guys who toe the line between good and bad (and usually aren’t human), and some life or world threatening paranormal bad guys, usually with some crime-solving thrown in.  For me, urban fantasies and paranormal romances make-or-break-it in their world-building.  Do I like the characters?  Is the mythology explained and believable?  How developed are the bad guys? Do I care about the threat they pose, or would I rather see those threatened killed off to put an end to wasted trees?  The devil is in the details, and if those details are just as cliché and formulaic as the plotline, I’m going to forget the particular UF/PF almost as soon as I turn that last page.

Darkfever somehow managed to both impress me with its details, and annoy me with them at the same time.

MacKayla Lane is by no means a “new” character.  She’s a 22 year old pretty, perky, naïve good-girl who loves life until one phone call changes everything completely; the call informing her of her sister Alina’s violent murder while studying abroad in Ireland.  Distraught and determined to find her older sister’s killer, Mac travels to Ireland against her parents’ wishes to try to do what law enforcement couldn’t; bring Alina’s killer to justice.  Of course, things don’t exactly go according to plan, and Mac soon finds herself smack-dab in the middle of a hunt for a very powerful, very dark book sought after by a species she’s only beginning to learn the existence of; fae.  She herself is a rare sidhe-seer, which means she can see through the glamour and invisibility of those pesky faeries to the hideousness (or sexual irresistibility) of their true forms.  Paired up with the mysterious Jericho Barrons (also known as Darkfever’s gorgeous guy who toes the line between good and bad), she is on a hunt to fulfill her sister’s last wish and find this book before they do.

I liked this book.  I didn’t love it, but it kept me entertained.  The pages seemed to want to be turned.  The Irish setting had a very authentic feel to it, the story was intriguing, and MacKayla, even while at her most annoying, did have a certain unidentifiable quality that made it impossible to completely hate her.  Unfortunately, though, there were a lot of things that were impossible to overlook, and took away from my enjoyment drastically.

Firstly, we never find out much about that book, the Sinsar Dubh (pronounced shin-sa do).  By the end of the novel, all I knew about it was that it’s evil, coveted by practically all of fae-kind, requires 4 stone-thingies to be activated, and caused our MC to become violently ill while in its presence.  I don’t know what it does, why the fae want it, why Alina wanted it, or what Barrons plans on doing with it.  Considering Mac risked her life several times, and her sister actually lost hers, to find it, I’d have expected a bit more information on it.  Instead, Mac blindly follows Barrons on their mutual quest to locate the book, using her sudden nausea as a sort of Sinsar Dubh metal-detector, without really questioning her partner on the thing.

The one fae Mac enounters who doesn’t resemble the monsters from her worst nightmares, V’lane, is supposed to be like walking, talking sex.  He drives her libido through the roof, and when she’s in his presence, she can’t seem to keep her clothes on.  Literally.  I won’t get into this too much since he doesn’t make an appearance until the second half of the book, but these scenes were extremely over-done.  And V’lane was also terribly underdeveloped.  Instead of feeling Mac’s combination of revulsion and inhumanly intense carnal attraction to him, I just wanted to skim the pages with him in them.

There is no real ending to this book.  Nothing is resolved.  Yeah, yeah, I get it; it’s the first in a series, and it was always intended to end on a cliffhanger.  That’s fine.  But Darkfever is a book, and a book should have its own plotline within the larger plotline of the series, one that is developed and conclusively ended.  There was nothing conclusive about Darkfever, making it read more like a compilation of chapters rather than an actual book.  The characters weren’t developed nearly enough, the storyline was only just getting started when it ended, and each and every plotline ended on a question.  I’m sorry, but as a reader, this bothers me.  It feels like a cheap move to boost sales of the future books by cutting what should be one novel into two or three, and charging for them.  And let me stress that I do appreciate a good cliffhanger, most of my favorites end in them, but Darkfever has no ending.

That said, this particular greedy selling technique seems to have paid off, because the sequel, Bloodfever, is currently on its way to my mailbox, courtesy of Amazon.  I’m hoping for more of what kept Darkfever entertaining, and less of what kept my eyes rolling.
Darkfever - 3 out of 5 stars


  1. Great review,kept me engaged through out.Following!

  2. I really liked this series, it gets so much better and much more complicated. About the Sinsar Dubh, well, you can't give up all the juicy secrets in the first book right? Just keep on with the series, it's good :D

    1. Yeah, that's what I read in a lot of reviews. Darkfever wasn't bad, it just wasn't great. So if it gets better I definitely want to stick with it.


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