Reviewed by KJ Van Houten
I really, really wanted to write a review worthy of Feversong, but after staring alternatively at the ebook open on my iPad and this document on my computer screen for 4 days, I realize that I can’t do it. Just can’t. So, I’ll just write what flows….
Background: Coming from mostly a reading background of SF/fantasy and romance, the Fever series is not my typical read as it falls within the paranormal urban fantasy genre. Sure, there’s romance, but it’s not typical of the romance genre nor is it the main point of the series. Nevertheless, I’ve been obsessed with all of Moning’s works for years, and I cannot review her books without a lot of passion involved, and yes, SPOILERS. And length… I’m not apologizing for that!
Fever series: I know I’m always saying series should all be read in order, but this time I really mean it! You CANNOT read these books as standalones, nor skip over any of them! Doing so will get you confused over who and what these characters are, what they are doing, and why they are doing those things. These books are not light reading, and the tone is intellectual as much as action. This series should be labelled, “Warning! Deep thoughts will be experienced here.” Each book ends without complete resolution of all plots. Some are definite cliffhangers, some are satisfying overall, but still leave you with questions. Of course, this always sets up perfectly for the next book, so you might find yourself picking up the next book as soon as you finish one. Or pulling your hair out because it’s a 1 to 2 year wait until the next book is released…
Remember, HERE THERE BE SPOILERS!! This is your chance to look away! Still here? OK, you were warned…
The setting is Dublin, Ireland. The time is current and ‘after the walls came down’ – which is a spoiler because in one of the early books the walls between our world and the world of the Fae came crashing down in a rather horrible manner. The dark Unseelie and the light Seelie have been present in our world for a long time, but either we can’t see them or they project a glamour so we see what they want us to see. Unless you are a sidhe seer – a woman born of special bloodlines that have the ability to see the true Fae.
The Seelie are mostly the ‘good Fae’ if a bit standoffish, desiring to be worshipped but generally ignoring or not caring much about the fate of humans. The Unseelie prey upon humans, stealing their lifeforce, blood, flesh, reveling in sex and debauchery.
Many humans have died. Many are enthralled by the Fae and are almost cult-like in worshipping both the Seelie and Unseelie. Technology and resources for survival are limited.
The Sinsar Dubh, the Black Book of the Unseelie King, in which he has hidden much of his magic, a book that has, over millennia, warped into a sociopathic sentience bent on destruction and ever more power, is loose. The Sinsar Dubh is eventually absorbed by Cruce, mightiest of the Unseelie Princes, who is imprisoned before he can wreck his own form of havoc upon the remains of the Earth. And then, we discover, there is ANOTHER copy of the Sinsar Dubh…
Main characters: We have two main heroines, MacKayla Lane and Dani O’Malley, who are both sidhe seers. MacKayla is a good-ole modern Southern Belle type girl who went to Dublin to seek answers about the murder of her sister, Alina, who was a student at Trinity University. Mac discovers she is a sidhe seer and gets embroiled in a dark world of mysterious, powerful men, referred to as the Nine, as well as caught up in the battle against the Fae. She begins her journey as innocent, thinking she can control her own destiny and find her answers. She encounters a lot tragedy, pain, bloodshed, battles, moments of bliss, as she grows throughout the series. Dani is a 14-year-old Irish hothead with a supernatural ability to move extremely fast as she speeds throughout Dublin fighting Fae, helping other sidhe seers, and becoming friends with Mac. She endures her own battles, pain, tragedy, and secrets as she, too, grows throughout the series. Literally, in Dani’s case, as she becomes trapped in the Silvers – a series of alternate dimensions where time moves at a different pace, so that when she returns to Dublin, she has aged five years while only a month has passed for the others.
Oh wow, I haven’t even mentioned Jericho Barrons, the enigmatic man that seems to be the leader of the Nine, with his own special abilities that set he and his crew apart. Faster than Dani, immortal, druidic, with a vast knowledge of the world and other dimensions. Best described as primal, beastly, guttural, deadly, powerful, mesmerizing, fascinating…no there are no words to adequately describe him! This also describes Ryodan, another of the Nine, who plays another major role throughout the series.
Then there is Christian MacKeltar – sexy young highlander turned Unseelie prince; Dancer, genius, hacker extraordinaire, and Dani’s youthful companion; Mac’s parents; Inspector Jayne; the other sidhe seers; the Unseelie King; Seelie Queen…way too many characters to get into! Each comes to us multi-faceted, a dynamic part of their world, and the interactions between them are fascinating on every page. Moning has a talent for writing characters that make us feel: We can love, hate, like, or dislike them, but we always FEEL them. Even when the reader doesn’t ‘connect’ with a character, you still find yourself caring, hoping, loving, hating, laughing, or crying along with them. Or, as in my case, not liking a particular character, but desperately needing to know he or she is going to be okay.
And they may not be. There will be many deaths! Unexpected deaths…MESSY deaths! Deaths that leave you a blubbering mass on the floor. And characters that don’t die will experience pain in all its forms. This is not a series for the gentle-hearted, it’s not cake and roses. This is fast and furious, blood and guts and rage. And you’ll experience some of the sweetest, most romantic moments, tenderness, beauty…Do you feel that emotional rollercoaster yet? Be sure your seat belts are fastened tightly.
Am I ever going to discuss FEVERSONG? Okay, okay…I guess I’ve set you up enough…maybe. And reminder, SPOILERS!
OK, so there’s these two main characters, Mac and Dani…Thus far we’ve seen Mac grow up quite a lot since her first trip into Dublin. She’s fallen in love with the enigmatic Jericho Barrons. (Love isn’t strong enough – love, lust, primal passion.) She’s discovered the great mystery of her own past, has come to realize many things about herself – abilities, feelings, thoughts, that she never knew she was capable of having.
Then, in the beginning of Feversong, she gives in to the mysterious Sinsar Dubh that is inside of her to save Dani’s life. The Sinsar Dubh possesses her. Weaving a path of madness, death, and destruction, the Sinsar Dubh ‘rides’ Mac, releasing Cruce, threatening everyone and everything around Mac as it seeks its own rise to supremacy. Part of its evil plan is to kill anyone in its path to garner the Unseelie King’s power and enlarge the strange black holes that popped up around the world earlier in the series – thus ending the world and everything in it, including the Fae race.
Dani alerts Jericho about Mac’s situation, and they race across Dublin, collecting Cruce and Christian along the way, seeking a way to save Mac and capture the Sinsar Dubh. Meanwhile, the essence that is still Mac inside her possessed body fights back. Dani seeks aid from and reconnects with Dancer, the young man who was perhaps her closest friend before she was trapped in the multi-dimensional Silvers. Dancer, young genius that he is, is entrenched in the remains of Trinity University trying to find a solution for the black holes.
I’ve tried really hard not to give away much in the way of spoilers, but I realize that I must end here or I will intend give away too much. I’ll close by saying that Mac, Dani, Jericho, Ryodan, Dancer, Cruce, and Christian all have roles left to play, as do the Unseelie King and Seelie Queen, and their journeys will take us from Dublin to the White Mansion, and help us find clues to the future in Barrons’ mysterious bookstore. We’ll see Mac’s journey come to a startling resolution, and Dani’s getting one step closer to its own conclusion.
Moning gives us many answers, but leaves us with many questions. She gives us resolution, but some in ways left open to interpretation. (She EXCELS at this type of writing!) She drives us along that emotional rollercoaster quickly in Feversong, pondering moments of tenderness and rage, happiness and sadness. She leaves us breathless at the end of the ride, wondering how that box of tissues got empty and why our eyes are burning. And when will the next rollercoaster be coming along?
I’ve seen a lot of criticism over the Fever series. Most of it seems to be rooted in the plot not going the way in which the reader/reviewer wanted or expected it to go – despite the many romantic scenes throughout, this isn’t a romance series where some readers want a happily ever after ending and that’s not what we get (although the romance within and some endings are very sweet). That, to me, is part of the beauty of Moning’s writing – she is one of the few authors that doesn’t write predictably, and I can rarely anticipate the direction in which her plots are going to go.
Do things happen in Feversong that I don’t like? Darn right! There was at least one time I wanted to throw it across the room, but I remembered that I love my iPad too much to do that. There were a few moments when I know I spoke out aloud, “No, you did NOT just go THERE!” The fact that a book, or rather a series of books, can illicit such an emotional and guttural response is why I keep coming back – why I will ALWAYS come back – to Moning’s books, why they haunt me for days after I’ve read the final page, why I seek out other Maniacs online and locally to commiserate with. BEST. READS. EVER. (For me.)
Note on the audiobook version: (I did both a read of the ebook and then a listen of the audiobook because there is so much in this series that I catch different aspects in each format.) I admit, Amanda Cobb did a far, far better narration of the female voices than I expected! Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed her narration of other stories, but I was skeptical of her getting both Mac’s and Dani’s voices right in my head – but excellent job! Jim Frangione was already familiar to me, too, and I had a slightly harder time adapting to his interpretations here, but he’s a solid narrator. I know it’s often dicey when narrators change throughout a series, but this was overall a good narration and I’d recommend it without hesitation.
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