It’s Not What You Think: The Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning

Darkfever and Bloodfever by Karen Marie Moning darkfever

Published: 2006 and 2007 by Delacorte Press

Source: local library

Synopsis (Goodreads): 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…

THE STORY CONTINUES

bloodfeverIn her fight to stay alive, MacKayla must find the Sinsar Dubh—a million-year-old book of the blackest magic imaginable, which holds the key to power over the worlds of both the Fae and Man. Pursued by assassins, surrounded by mysterious figures she knows she can’t trust, Mac finds herself torn between two deadly and powerful men: V’lane, the immortal Fae Prince, and Jericho Barrons, a man as irresistible as he is dangerous.

For centuries the shadowy realm of the Fae has coexisted with that of humans. Now the walls between the two are coming down, and Mac is the only thing that stands between them.

My thoughts: Stories featuring vampires, werewolves, fairies, angels, and other supernatural creatures are really hit or miss for me, but I was in the mood for something light and fun to balance out my laborious reading of Infinite Jest and decided to give this series a try. It didn’t disappoint me.

Though the covers are dark and the titles seem ominous and the synopsis makes the book seem like it is much more erotic/sexy than it is, in reality The Fever series is a fun, supernatural romp chocked full of action ( at least so far, I’ve only read these two).

CHARACTERS

I fell in love with urban fantasy in my first foray into genre fiction when I picked up the Sookie Stackhouse series on a whim at my local used bookstore. When I say love, I mean LOVE. I absolutely adore The Southern Vampire Mysteries. Of all the urban fantasy and paranormal romance I’ve read since then, The Fever series has come the closest to duplicating the fun experience of meeting Sookie for the first time.

It’s obvious why I’d compare Mac to Sookie. They are both blond twenty-somethings from the South who enjoy lying about in the sun and have a similar sassy personality. I don’t respect Mac in the way I do Sookie, but she’s fun. Though not particularly deep or insightful, she’s unapologetic about who she is, which is refreshing. She’s a bit naive, stubborn, and whiny in Darkfever, but she’s already matured a lot by the end of Bloodfever so I’m confident that she’ll continue to grow through the rest of the series.

Her matter-of-fact voice makes her a fun narrator, and I like her upbeat attitude even in the face of the grief and danger she faces.

“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.”

Yeah, I just kind of like Mac. She’s a bit snarky and reckless and that’s part of what makes her adventures fun.

Barrons is one of those broody, terse male leads that you see so much of in urban fantasy and parnormal romance. He’s rough and secretive and not at all the type of guy I’d go for in real life, but for better or worse, he is entertaining for me as a reader. I don’t want to discount the qualms I have with these alpha-type males; Barrons goes so far as to leave bruises on Mac when they’ve only just met and he chains her up with the intent of tattooing her against her will (spoiler alert: at this point he’s already done it). I can never stomach these type of high-handed male leads in contemporary settings, but somehow I end up enjoying them in fantasy settings. He’s definitely the archetypal sullen, gruff hero with (hopefully) noble intentions underneath, and how often he stares at Mac’s boobs is kind of a turn off, but still, I can’t help but keep reading.

WORLD-BUILDING and PLOT and SETTING

The mythology in the Fever world is a fun mix of magic and a spin on traditional Irish legends about the Fae. The rules of this world aren’t just thrown at the reader; we all have to figure it out along with Ms. Lane. Though there are familiar elements—a magical book, a gateway between worlds, a girl with a special ability—the spin is unique enough to keep readers guessing (and turning pages).

Though a completely different series from her earlier Highlander books, these are set loosely within the same world and some characters from the Highlander books make appearances in the Fever books. I’m kinda skeptical of writers that seem to only have one idea for a unique mythology and sets different series within that same world (I’m looking at you, Cassandra Clare).

I found the Dublin setting to be the perfect backdrop for the monsters and mythology of the Fever series. The endless pubs and the constant rain set the mood for the story.

WRITING

I’m not gonna lie, Karen Marie Moning excels as a storyteller but is less adept at the craft of writing. Particularly in Darkfever, she employs tricky narrative conventions that are sometimes confusing. Mac will insert commentary about things she will later learn, but the action is most often in the moment. While possibly an attempt at foreshadowing, these asides threw me out of the story.

There is a lot of Mac “telling” us how she is and she asks herself lots of questions, and I’m sure this kind of narration grates on people. Luckily, the action moves forward quickly enough that I was able to look past these parts of the stories.

The first two installments in the series don’t read at all like stand-alones. The action is rising at the close of both and this annoyed me, even if the series is complete, because the third was checked out from the library. (Though I am not annoyed enough to use my book buying budget on the $7.99 Kindle edition.)

ROMANCE

Lots of readers like their romance novels to follow a set pattern and have the hero and the heroine end up happily ever after at the end of the books. But when series take this route, I tend to lose interest after the relationship is on solid ground (I’m looking at you, Cat and Bones from the Night Huntress series). Readers who want the security of a committed couple right out the gates will likely be frustrated by the slow development of the romance subplot, but I prefer it.

These books have a hint of sexiness about them, but two books in, no actual sex. Despite how important  the death-by-sex Fae prince, V’lane, seems to the plot in the synopsis, he’s only shown up a couple of times. His magic does effect Mac, and these scenes are kinda gross and awkward, but I liked how adamant Mac was if he had sex with her on those occasions, it would have been rape. I don’t think I could have gotten on board with this whole death-by-sex thing if it had been presented in a sexy way. Luckily it’s not, and any sexiness the book has is based on the sexual tension between Mac and Barrons.

THE BOTTOM LINE

I am enjoying this series enough to finish it. I like it in spite of myself. I’d recommend it to fans of The Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris and The Parasol Protectorate Series by Gail Carriger or for anyone looking to take a break from YA who wants to check out some adult urban fantasy.  If you have any suggestions for other supernatural mysteries or urban fantasy, I’d love to here what you’ve enjoyed!

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8 thoughts on “It’s Not What You Think: The Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning

  1. Oooohhh I’ve actually read this whole series! I agree with your points so far, but I can’t say anything else because I forget what has happened already in the earlier novels…

    BUT I loved Mac! I was also skeptical about Barrons being way too aggressive, and yes, there’s lots of gross, sexual things in it. But I loved Mac and rooted for her – she does grow a lot, and I wasn’t too bothered by the narration. I found the mythology cool, the setting fun, and the ‘romance’ interesting.

    I wonder how you’ll feel about the last few books? I have a long review on Goodreads for the last one…we’ll have to talk more when you get there, haha!

    1. I’ll have to check out your review when I’m finished! I just picked up Faefever from the library and I already have the next two on hold, so I’m sure I’ll finish them up quickly.

  2. I just re-read the fever series a couple of weeks ago and it is still my all time favorite urban fantasy series. It does take quite a few twists and turns and I liked being constantly on edge trying to figure out everyone’s motives. I also like just how much Mac’s character grows and changes over the series.

    For anyone thinking about giving this series a try, give it a chance. I almost gave up in the first few chapters because Mac starts off as self-involved fluffball. Just give her time, I swear she’ll grow on you!

  3. I am looking for a good adult urban fantasy series to start, and the Fever series is definitely a contender. I really like the idea of it being set in Ireland and being based on some fey lore. I do love snarky heroines – and those actually my age! Sounds like something I could enjoy. I’m glad you found a great UF series to read again. :)

    1. Ha! Thanks. That’s what I’m going for. I am quite eclectic in my taste so while I’d never expect someone to be interested in everything I review, I’m glad some of them spark your interest!

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