Thursday, 21 July 2011
Book Report: The Fever Series
As a joke, a friend bought me a romance novel. I loaned it out to a couple of girlfriends and each one told me that I had to, had to read it. It was terrible. It was wonderful. It was sexy, hilarious, erotic, irritating, and satisfying. I thought, I'll read more in this series.
I haven't yet. I will. I promise.
That same friend who gave me Beyond the Highland Mist recently told me about another series by the same author. "It's so good," she said.
"Much sex and sexiness?"
"Not so much sex."
"But there is sex." I wanted to make very sure.
I never thought I was one for romance novels. I'm still not, but they're fun to read every once in a while. Mostly I shop in the horror section. Or YA lit, which can also be richly dark and fantastic. So when I learned about a dark fantasy series written by a romance author, I was sold.
MacKayla has traveled the long way from Ashford, Georgia, to Dublin, Ireland, to find her sister's killer. Shortly after her arrival in Ireland, Mac learns the world is not the sunny, carefree place she thinks it is. The world is a nightmare realm populated by powerful, deadly beings. The Fae are a race of god-like fairy creatures that arrived on Earth millennia ago and have been meddling with the world ever since. The Seelie are the stuff of fairy tales, pretty and magical. The Unseelie are monsters straight from hell. Many long years ago, the Unseelie were imprisoned, kept a safe distance from all worlds. But over time the prison walls grew thin and some Unseelie slipped through into our world. Now the mysterious Lord Master is plotting to tear down the walls and unleash hell.
All for want of a book.
Mac can sense Fae objects of power, and this one book is the most powerful object of all. In it is the dark knowledge of the Unseelie King, and numerous parties are searching for it. The book has something to do with her sister's death, so Mac must walk a dangerous path if she's going to get her revenge. On her journey she meets monsters, a vampire, druids, and a sisterhood of similarly-gifted women. But what's really got Mac in trouble is the storm of jealousy and hatred that ??? around her current mentor Barrons and her would-be protector V'lane. Mysterious, powerful, and dangerous, Barrons collects Fae objects of power and uses Mac to locate them. Equally powerful is the Seelie prince V'lane who, in addition to wanting Mac help him locate the book, keeps trying to have sex with her. Devastating, passionate sex.
My friend was right. There is a lot of sexiness in the Fever series, but not a lot of sex. Sex gets in the way of the story moving forward and author Karen Marie Moning has cleverly woven that into the text. The books are about Mac's journey from innocent girl to powerful woman and sex is both a roadblock and transformational process.
Mac's growth is slow, painful, delayed, and extremely frustrating at times. It makes for an engrossing read, though tinged with aggravation. Making up for Mac's shortcomings is Barrons, a hard-edged and hard-bodied bookseller who takes what he wants from the world. He is without pity, without morals, and without a doubt the best thing about the Fever series. His erotic love-hate relationship with Mac underscores the end-of-the-world tension in the story; Barrons says he doesn't care if the world ends, but he cares enough to keep Mac alive. So long as she's useful to him.
Although the series is full of darkness and danger, it's not nearly as bleak as it could be. Most everyone accepts change as it comes without embracing a depressingly fatalistic outlook. The series' darkness is tempered by the late addition of Mac's parents to the plot, a development this reader didn't much care for. That one criticism aside, the Fever series is a rich, dark fantasy drenched in blood.
Potential readers take note, Moning is not a horror author, but there are horrors to be found in this series of books. Some are personal for the characters, some are visceral for the reader, and make for an engaging, engrossing read.