So I bought this book a very long time ago along with a few other books by Karen Marie Moning, the sequel in the Fever series Bloodfever, and the first two books of the Highlander series, but I never worked up to reading it until last month. The need for some mind-numbing paranormal romance was strong!
Darkfever is about MacKayla, or Mac, a young all-American girl who loves flashy nails, bright pretty skirts, and the warm weather of her home town. After the murder of her sister abroad in Ireland, Mac discovers a disturbing voicemail left on her phone from her sister when she was alive. She makes the trek to Ireland to bring the evidence to the police and to investigate for herself, but she soon realises that her sister might’ve been involved in a whole lot more than studying and hot Irish boys.
The first thing that surprised me was that there wasn’t really romance in Darkfever. There are some creative sexual scenes for sure, but there were never really any hints of compelling romance. The world Mac dives into in Ireland is a dark place where shadows can consume you and monsters suck the life out of people from their very skin. I really enjoyed the grittiness of the world that Moning throws her protagonist into, and it’s even better because Mac really isn’t a dark and gritty person. As far as world building and setting goes, I think Moning struck gold. It’s easy to get caught up in overly whimsical descriptions in this genre, but I loved that in this novel the setting is creepy and unforgiving.
Our protagonist MacKayla seriously made me want to pull my hair out. She is literally my polar opposite! Mac is all pink manicured nails, long blonde hair, and bright frilly skirts. She is high maintenance and I couldn’t help rolling my eyes while reading some of her more shallow thoughts. She is definitely a protagonist I am not fond of, but at the same time there’s an understanding that this young high maintenance girl is her character’s starting point. The narrative reminds readers several times that what’s being read is Mac’s account of the first events and that she is likely different in the present, wherever in the series that is. I did like that Mac is a strong and stubborn character, and I felt for her as a very dark world consumed a very ignorant character. She just wasn’t my cup of tea.
The rest of the characters who aren’t Mac never seemed relevant in this book, except maybe Jericho who is meant to be the male protagonist here, and possibly a love interest for Mac. I actually found it really refreshing that it wasn’t an in your face sexual attraction every time they looked at one another type of story, and found it kind of fun that they antagonized one another so much. But I really didn’t get enough detail about who Jericho was, nor any real basis between the two for romance, mostly because part of their partnership was based on who could keep secrets from the other the longest. I feel the romance was a little unexpected, but again, there wasn’t really any anyway. The character V’lane is mentioned as pursuing Mac in the synopsis, but really he barely appeared in the story and I am now super interested about who he is.
For the most part, the writing was good. The story is written in the first person and there are elements of the narrator being the writer of the book, detailing an account of what happened. This was actually a bit irritating because readers then get random “if only I knew” type of lines throughout the novel which, in my opinion, were completely unnecessary. From this book alone, I don’t think an embedded narrative contributed to the plot and just pulls a reader out of the story for no reason, but other than that I did enjoy the way it was written.
The plot itself was extremely interesting! Irish folklore has been done before, but Moning handled the story very intriguingly. I found myself wanting to know more about what was going on and what the folklorish underbelly of Ireland was like. The concept of who the Fae were, their hierarchy, and how they interact with humans was the best part of this novel. The unfortunate part was that I felt we barely scratched the surface of the deeper plot, which left me a little dissatisfied with the ending of the novel.
Overall, I think the story has huge potential. Clearly, the first book was more of a prequel than an actual first installment, and this was reflected in the character development and slow forward drive of the plot. I wasn’t completely satisfied, but I did enjoy Darkfever as a quick and intriguing read! I will definitely read Bloodfever since I have it, and see if it’s a series I want to continue with.