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Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning

When I was offered the chance to review Darkfever, I immediately accepted. I've heard so many good things about this series. I've heard it straddles urban fantasy and paranormal romance. I've heard it features a strong and likable protagonist as well as a rich world full of mythological beings, yet set in present-day Ireland. All of which things served to pique my interest. This was my first Karen Marie Moning book and I had high hopes for it as it is the first in a series of four books so far. The fifth and next installment--Shadowfever--will be published early next year. As a longtime series reader, I like coming into an already established set every now and again. It goes a little ways toward balancing out all the others you've got lined up and are waiting impatiently for.

MacKayla "Mac" Lane is Southern belle through and through. Born and bred in Georgia, she and her big sister Alina followed their mother's proper example. But while Alina was always the studious straight laced daughter, Mac was the laid back one. Dropping out of college after a couple of semesters, she takes a job tending bar in a local pub and working on her tan in the off hours. Then the world comes crashing down around her. Her sister Alina is murdered while on study abroad in Dublin. And it isn't your run-of-the-mill mugging gone wrong. Alina's body was literally torn apart and the Dublin police have all but closed the case for lack of evidence. Sick of watching her parents sink further and further into depression and grief, Mac hops a plane to Ireland determined to make the police see reason and reopen her sister's case until the culprit is caught and brought to justice. Just before her death, Alina left a hysterical and cryptic message on Mac's phone and it is that fragment of a clue that pushes Mac deeper into the Dublin underground than she thought possible. And it is there that she discovers the fairy tales she read as a child--the things that go bump in the night--aren't so made up after all.

Essentially, Darkfever reads like Sookie Stackhouse-lite. Mac is blond and beautiful like Sookie. She likes nice things and she's smarter than people take her for. But she doesn't possess quite the depth of the telepathic barmaid from Bon Temps. I wanted to like her, but her cluelessness and lack of spark began to wear on me after awhile. I appreciated the Dublin setting with the rain and the fog, the endless pubs and the warm, cozy bookstores popping up out of nowhere. But the world itself never leaped off the page at me. Similarly, the Celtic mythology and the various factions of fae are right up my alley, but . . . I don't know. Some vibrant element was missing and my interest palled and eventually stalled out. The glossed over writing and characterization left me with only vague impressions of who, what, and where. The dark and deceptive Jericho Barrons who Mac encounters shortly after arriving in Dublin, and with whom she is repeatedly thrown together to find the object her sister was looking for, clearly works for many readers. But I found him unlikable and callous, any redeeming qualities failing to materialize in time for my affections to be engaged. I think I would have appreciated a little more backbone and a little less pink lip gloss from Mac and a little less chauvinistic manhandling and a little more complexity from Jericho. Or at least a stronger connection between the two to keep me going. I like that there is no precipitous romance in this first book, but as these two are the pillars on which the book rests, I needed to at least believe in some reason why they would be friends. And I just didn't. Overall, I finished Darkfever lukewarm at best and, with so many options out there, I will not be continuing on with the series.

Reading Order
Darkfever, Bloodfever, Faefever, Dreamfever, and Shadowfever


Linkage
All Things Urban Fantasy Review
The Bizarre Library Review
Jenn's Bookshelves Review
Peeking Between the Pages Review
Savvy Verse & Wit Review
Story Wings Review
Urban Bachelorette Review

For a couple more reviews and opinions on the series you can check out the next two stops in the tour at Luxury Reading and Dark Faerie Tales tomorrow and Monday respectively.

Comments

  1. Sorry this didn’t work out for you. It’s a favorite of mine, but I’ve also met quite a few who didn’t enjoy the series.

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  2. Thanks for reviewing this. Like you, I kept seeing good things pop up about these books and didn't know what to think.

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  3. I like reviews that are honest and you are one of my favorite reviewers for that reason.

    I like the fever series truthfully I don't know why (I picked this up moons ago) - I didn't go into it thinking PNR and for some reason it clicked for me. I like that Jericho is such a alpha putz.

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  4. that "never leaped off" got me, is so good when the opposite happens and you are sitting there all quiet reading and suddenly you are so into the story that you forget everything else around you

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  5. Christie, yeah, I knew I was in the minority. Though it's good to hear I'm not totally alone. :)

    Michelle, just nowhere near enough nuance for me. *sigh*

    Marnie, lol. Well, there you go. I'm glad Jericho has his fans. Does their relationship get better as the books go on?

    Emily, isnt' that wonderful when that happens? This one just felt so monotone to me. And I didn't fall for any of the characters.

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  6. Thanks, Angie! I couldn't finish this one and thought I was crazy. lol.

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  7. Everyone has been recommending this to me over and over, but the truth is, every time I started it, I just turned it back into the library - I couldn't get past the first chapter. So, I hear you.

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  8. Angie! I can't believe you didn't like it! I can't even look at you right now. ;) The first book of the series isn't the best but they get better. Mac turns into a better character. Less about her gloss and more about kick ass and getting stuff done. But that's okay, I will read them for you.

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  9. Mac is annoying, but overall I thought this was a good series. But then I don't like the Sookie Stackhouse books, either. =/

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  10. Oh too bad this didn't work out for you! I already have it in my TBR, maybe I should've waited for you to review it before I bought the book. Anyway, looks like I won't be reading this anytime soon.

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  11. Oh no, I've just purchased the first two books in this series. Well I'll just have to cross my fingers and hope that I'll enjoy this series :)

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  12. I read through, oh, I think it was the third book, but the characters never evolved enough to make me care about them. And the plot...It felt like it was unnecessarily stretched into several books. Just my opinion, of course, but it didn't surprise me to see that you're giving this series a pass. Great, honest review!

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  13. I read Darkfever oh gosh... at least two summers ago, I think, and had a similar reading experience as you, although I was curious enough at the end to pick up the next book in paperback when it came out.

    Mac's sort of "clueless blond sporting matching pink lips and nails" really got on my nerves for most of this book, but it faded a bit as the story progressed. As for the story line, it held promise and I kept reading hoping the story would really take off, but in the end, it felt like a drawn out prequel. Which was confirmed in a way, by reviews I've read about subsequent books, so that's why I'll potentially read on. With that being said... the other two books I have are sitting on the TBR pile unread! hmm...

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  14. i've read all the fever books so far (and none of the stackhouse books), and i'll admit - the first is the weakest. mac grows through the books (although, some of the choices she makes made me smack my head in frustration). jericho is...well, sometimes he's really, really unlikable. but he's a weirdly good fit for her. i think, though, this is why i liked them - no one in the books is entirely likable and perfect. they are all severely flawed and out for their own agendas.

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  15. Just thought i would say thanks for the review, it cant be fun to write a less than glowing review, but it does help readers

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  16. Abby, okay, your comment made me smile because halfway through I was feeling a little crazy myself. *sigh*

    Raspberry, you make me feel better. Seriously. We are in the minority but we are not crazy! lol.

    Tiah, LOL! *ducks head* I know, I know. I don't know what to say. I just could not click with them. I'm happy to hear they get better and that you're reading them for me. ;)

    heidenkind, isn't that interesting? I wonder if we could do a poll to see who prefers Mac and who Sookie and the crossover (if any) of readers who like both. Hm...

    Chachic, you never know. It's probably worth giving the first one a go just in case she floats your boat. But knowing your taste, I'm kind of feeling sure that she won't.

    Ladybug, oh no! What timing. Well, you may very well think Mac (and Jericho) is the bee's knees. Let me know!

    Chelle, okay, definitely not continuing on then. They'd need to evolve quite a bit for me to want to.

    Christine, that's good to know. I'm gonna wait for you to go first, if that's all right. If you love them, then I'll look into it.

    heather, and see normally I'm all over that kind of grayness. I just wish something about either of them had gotten under my skin (in a good way) in the first book. Do you have a favorite so far?

    Emm, thank you for that thoughtful comment. It is not awesome to write a less than glowing review and I always feel bad doing it. But I would feel worse not being honest, as you say. So I'm grateful to hear the less than glowing ones are helpful, too.

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  17. I like this series, but I look at it as a fun, light read and not much more than that. Although, I will admit, I am not certain how I would have felt about the last book if I actually "read" it. I listened to it via an audiobook and the narrators were fantastic. Their voices added a lot to the story, so much so that I am fairly certain that I am going to have to listen to the next book for fear that I will not like the reading.

    Too bad the first book did not work for you. A great reason to be thankful for a variety of books that are available to us. :)

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  18. angie, i hate to admit it, but series sometimes all blur together for me after time passes between readings. i will say that i did think they got better - although, there are a lot of eye rolling moments. mac does grow up a bit (however, she holds on to that pink part of her, which i find sweet, because i hate when characters completely reinvent themselves through a series, considering people really don't do that) and becomes a bit more of a person to root for. and barrons becomes a bit more easier to like, but only a bit - which makes me want to know what really makes barrons tick (i guess that'll be in book 5!).

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