I’d heard a lot of good things about Moning’s Fever series before reading Darkfever, but I didn’t know exactly what to expect. I knew there were faeries, so paranormal was a good bet, and I knew there was probably some romance in there too. What I got was definitely not what I expected, but was interesting all the same.
MacKayla Lane, or Mac, is a 22-year-old from a small town in Georgia. She works as a bartender, takes a few college classes, and generally seems to live a charmed young life. As the story begins, we find out that her older sister, who has been studying abroad in Dublin, Ireland, has been found murdered. Determined to find out what really happened to her sister, Mac travels to Dublin and begins to investigate on her own. She quickly discovers that all is not what it seems, as she gets pulled deeper into a dark world that her sister appears to have discovered as well–and it may be the reason she was killed.
First of all, this was definitely not a romance. There is no love story, no romantic hero or heroine, and to be honest most of the characters are pretty unlikeable, including Mac. From the beginning of the book, she comes off as a bit of a flake, a spoiled, pretty girl who is used to getting what she wants. She refuses to accept the truth that is right in front of her, to the point that she actively ignores people who try to tell her things that she needs to know for her own safety. It’s easy to get frustrated with her obtuseness, and if I read one more reference to the cutesy, pastel clothes she wore I thought I was going to lose it. No 22-year-old that I know wears that much pink.
However, I get that Moning is setting up a contrast between the before Mac (girly, naive, and with perfect nails) and the after Mac–the Mac who knows the truth and has to adjust her worldview accordingly. This is where the paranormal element comes in, and in this case the book definitely fulfilled my expectations. There are faeries and vampires and all manner of things that go bump in the night. The paranormal world that Mac uncovers in Dublin is ugly, dark, and scary–there are definitely no sparkles here.
As this is the first book in a series, it takes the time to develop the world that will be presented in the books to come. Most of the book centers around Mac discovering the truth about what her sister was involved in leading up to her death, as she begins to learn the things that her sister knew and tried to warn her about. At times the world-building felt a bit forced to me, and I couldn’t always reconcile the characters with the storyline; there was something too incongruous about it. In a way, I could understand why Mac has such a hard time accepting this “other” Dublin of faeries; I found them really unbelievable, too. I almost wonder if I would have had an easier time buying into the premise of the book if it weren’t taking place in a well-know city. I found it impossible to understand how all of this could be going on without regular people realizing and doing something about it.
By the end of the book, we’ve met some of the main characters who seem to be integral to the story, and we have lots of questions left to be answered. Mac’s character is starting to evolve from the rather unlikeable girl of the beginning, although let’s face it–she’s still no Buffy. I’m interested to read more books in the series, but I hope that the different elements start to come together in a way that feels more realistic and less forced, and I hope that Mac can develop into a heroine worth rooting for.
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