Book Review – Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning

In the last year or so, I’ve enjoyed a number of novels that fall within the fantasy genre, specifically where elements of fantasy are crossed with a recognizable modern world. Because of this I’ve been trying to find more in that genre. It is a genre that is blossoming in popularity at the teen level and it feels like it’s trickling up into fiction geared more towards adults. One of the series that I had seen advertised and heard was decent was Karen Marie Moning’s Fever Series. The prospect of there being several books that I might dive into and enjoy was exciting. However, after finishing the inaugural Darkfever, I think I will take a break from that genre for a while.

MacKayla Lane is a heroine we’ve all seen (perhaps too many times) before. She’s kind of just coasting along through life managing to get by on seemingly minimal skills and effort when her life is forever altered by the mysterious murder of her sister. Dropping everything, Mac flies to Dublin, where her sister had been studying at the time of her death, to retrace her steps and solve her murder. She finds that there were a lot of secrets her sister had been keeping from her and that most of them were likely of a supernatural sort. When it turns out that Mac has rare gifts with regards to seeing and moving in a world crawling with Fae, she finds herself on a path with a man called Jericho, a path that will hopefully lead to her sister’s killer but not before it leads to many more questions about Mac herself and the world in which she lives.

I’m not entirely sure what it was about the book that I found so off-putting. It was more than just a narrator/protagonist that grated on my nerves. Everything about Mac rubbed me the wrong way and felt unbalanced. There was, to my mind at least, a great contradiction between her claims and her actions that made her more than just an unreliable narrator (which, in and of itself, is something that I can and have been able to overlook in the past). Maybe it was that feeling that she’s such a recycled character. To be honest, for the first half of the book I kept flashing to Sookie Stackhouse whenever I tried to picture Mac.

I don’t know enough about traditional fairy lore to be able to truly comment on Moning’s depictions of the Fae and their interactions with our modern world. I’m sure there are purists out there better able to nit-pick where Moning ignored or altered the lore to suit her needs and which broken rules are the most grievous. On the whole, I thought it felt too sensationalized and overdone for me to maintain the necessary suspension of disbelief. As I tend to be one of those purists, it probably would have bothered me even more if I better understood the lore behind the novel.

The plot was halfway decent and the writing is something I could force myself to look past, but there was too much of an effort to tease the reader, too many questions with too few answers. It’s clear that several books were planned from the outset with just enough information doled out in each to peak the readers’ curiosity and keep them coming back for more. Unfortunately, my love for solving puzzles and figuring out mysteries wasn’t enough to overcome the underdeveloped secondary characters and an obnoxious narrator/protagonist. Ultimately, though it bothers the part of me that likes to complete what I start, I just wasn’t able to care about the characters or the story enough to further pursue this series. Darkfever’s tireless efforts to impress fell flat and turned this reader off.

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