Darkfever is the BEST SERIES and YOU NEED TO READ IT NOW!
That was a little abrupt. But here is the full story why.
If you, like me, are 21 and looking to avoid adulthood, that means that you have tiptoed around the new adult book sections and mostly hidden from them in the library. It also means that you have sampled a few and quickly dismissed them even if you sort of enjoyed them (Colleen Hoover’s Slammed, anyone?). Darkfever, thankfully, is not exclusively ‘new adult’ or a scary regular ‘adult’ book – it’s just a great urban fantasy book. (Technically adult, I guess, but my point is that it was so good that it rose above all genre labeling and fell into the genre of ‘Read This Now or Die!’)
The writing in Darkfever had me hooked in the first five pages. The narration is so engaging (but not overly engaging in the way precocious 13-year-olds can be when narrating sometimes) and so smooth. Combined with an addictive storyline, a powerful and endearing heroine, and a superb romance written with a lot of that slow-burn sexual tension – it was impossible to put it down! (Literally impossible. I read it every second for hours straight, and then I got the ebooks for the rest of the series. Bless the overdrive* app.)
OFFICIAL BOOK SUMMARY:
MacKayla Lane’s life is good. She has great friends, a decent job, and a car that breaks down only every other week or so. In other words, she’s your perfectly ordinary twenty-first-century woman. Or so she thinks… until something extraordinary happens.
When her sister is murdered, leaving a single clue to her death—a cryptic message on Mac’s cell phone–Mac journeys to Ireland in search of answers. The quest to find her sister’s killer draws her into a shadowy realm where nothing is as it seems, where good and evil wear the same treacherously seductive mask. She is soon faced with an even greater challenge: staying alive long enough to learn how to handle a power she had no idea she possessed—a gift that allows her to see beyond the world of man, into the dangerous realm of the Fae…
As Mac delves deeper into the mystery of her sister’s death, her every move is shadowed by the dark, mysterious Jericho, a man with no past and only mockery for a future. As she begins to close in on the truth, the ruthless Vlane—an alpha Fae who makes sex an addiction for human women—closes in on her. And as the boundary between worlds begins to crumble, Mac’s true mission becomes clear: find the elusive Sinsar Dubh before someone else claims the all—powerful Dark Book—because whoever gets to it first holds nothing less than complete control of the very fabric of both worlds in their hands…
Darkfever is humorous and relatable when it starts off and continues to be that way as you get lost in the world of MacKayla Lane, slacker pretty girl from the south who unearths a supernatural world of Fae when she travels to Ireland to find clues about her sister’s terrifying murder. The plot is well-paced and I greatly applaud the world-building because it is subtly well done, but you never feel confused through the eyes of the cute, happy-go-lucky Mac. The story is told as Mac looks back on her carefree, unambitious self before her life was turned around after her sister’s murder. The juxtaposition of this cute Mac – who constantly discusses nail polish and upbeat songs – with a dark and gruesome fantasy world is what makes it refreshing and funny to read.
As it would happen, if you are in an urban fantasy novel and you go to the country your sister was brutally murdered in, you may start seeing odd creatures and things that lurk in the night. After some fruitless searching for clues and a run-in with creepy shadows, Mac finds herself in the dreamiest, coziest haven of a bookstore: Barrons Books & Baubles. This is where the owner, Jericho ‘Swelter From My Hotness!’ Barrons comes in.
In the dictionary next to ‘swoon’ is a picture of Jericho Barrons (can I describe a fictional character as “so hot it is frightening”?). Mac and Barrons immediately dislike each other but are forced to work together, as they both have something the other needs…oh, look, it’s the formula for a high-intensity slow burn romance again! (It seems I exclusively review hate-to-love romances, for which I cannot apologize.) Mac’s sister left her a mysterious voicemail right before she died, instructing her to find and contain an ancient Fae book, the sinsar dubh, which Barrons is also after for his own mysterious reasons. Mac is a powerful sidhe-seer, someone who can see and sense the Fae and the book, so Barrons needs her to help find it. He becomes Mac’s new expert guide to this creepy world and tracking down her sister’s killer, and she becomes his book detector. (She also refers to him as “the biggest baddest F I know of,” since everyone is sort of afraid of him.) The rest of the book features Mac and Barrons fighting evil creatures and adventuring on a mission to find the sinsar dubh and find Mac’s sister’s killer. Along the way, they run into more characters, all who want the book as well. The setting stays in Ireland though there are portals, spells, and immortal creatures at every turn. There’s also a ridiculous Fae character whose power is “death-by-sex.” He kills women from their sheer desire for him…talk about fatal attraction? Mac simultaneously wanted to kill him and was magically attracted to him because of his power, and her narration of it was riotous. I need to read more urban fantasy because I forgot how much I love the mix of current reality and fantasy!
The mystery surrounding Barrons is one of the most spell-binding parts of the plot. He seems to know literally everything; he doesn’t seem to be totally human, and he has everything he could possibly need. He’s rich, he lets Mac drive his cars, and he seems indestructible and able to save her from everything ever without dying. If you’re thinking this sounds a bit like Edward-Bella, well, I mean, there are reasons their romance was so popular. And the argument against Bella was always that she was so personality-less that readers just projected onto her. However, the similarities end with Barrons’ otherworldliness and his fancy cars, because Mac is full of personality, and her attempts to uncover her sister’s secrets and stay alive take precedence over a paranormal romance with Barrons (but don’t worry. It is still a very important part of the plot. Just in case you were worried this was a full-blown romance novel or something. It’s not!)
Barrons and Mac’s relationship was so complex and interesting. She constantly clashes with Barrons and many scenes are them gnashing their teeth at each other, but growing that grudging respect that ultimately leads to love. Barrons explains nothing to Mac about his life and it irritates her to no end. Luckily, Barrons is not a quiet guy, even though he has secrets, so their dialogue is off the wall and very funny. Mac is constantly mouthing off and Barrons can’t help but respond wittily as they butt heads. They also understand each other well and have a lot of wordless eye conversations, a-la Miss Fisher and Jack, which was possibly my favorite part of their relationship. What’s different here about their romance is there is a lot less cutesy fluff, and a lot more hatred and ugliness, which makes it more real. The most compelling aspect of their relationship is that they do not trust each other at all, and this is their main conflict. Mac and Barrons sometimes like each other, but mostly they fight. Barrons never pretends to be noble, though Mac thinks she wants that in a guy (“I get off on a man with strong moral fiber. The closest Barrons ever gets to fiber is walking down the cereal aisle at the grocery store.”). In fact, he often tells Mac that he is nothing but self-serving and arrogant.
“One day you may kiss a man you can’t breathe without, and find breath is of little consequence.”
“Right, and one day my prince might come.”
“I doubt he’ll be a prince, Ms. Lane. Men rarely are.”
Mac’s opinion of Barrons throughout the series: “One day I was going to write a book: How to Dictate to a Dictator and Evade an Evader, subtitled How to Handle Jericho Barrons.” His opinion of her, when they first meet: “You, Ms. Lane, are a menace to others! A walking, talking catastrophe in pink!” He’s painted as this scary, very buff and extremely intelligent older guy while Mac is this fresh-faced, new girly-girl. They’re both prejudiced against each other, really quite mean to the other, and it seems they will never admit to having any feelings. Honestly, they call each other by their last names. BUT THERE’S MORE TO BOTH OF THEM THAN THEY THINK and it’s great seeing them realize that (though, it does take them more than one novel to do so fully).
Mac is always trying to get answers from Barrons – what he does during the day, why he’s so motivated to steal this mythical book, how it is that he’s so powerful, and why he is so invested in her survival and working with her. He, of course, never gives her a straight answer, and their ongoing battle is just such a joy to read. (I just reread that sentence — if it sounds like I thrive on characters’ pain, it looks like I do?!) It’s an interesting struggle Mac undergoes, however, because she does not know if Barrons would save her* if she ceased to be useless to him. She does not know if Barrons only rescues and helps her because she is useful or if it is because he also cares for her. It is also infuriating that Mac refuses to acknowledge any feelings for Barrons to herself – probably because he does the same. It definitely makes the book painful for the reader but so, so good. Barrons is rarely sweet, tells her nothing, never makes it seem as though he likes her, but he is always there for her. And whenever she broaches the topic of who or what he is, he just asks her to judge him by his actions. And to me, that’s a noble thought in itself.
“What are you, Barrons?”
“The one who will never let you die, and that’s more, Ms Lane, than anyone in your life has been able to say to you. More than anyone else can do.”
*Note on the “saving”: I think in any urban fantasy series it’s acceptable for a heroine to get rescued from time to time as needed when first facing deadly creatures, which happens for Mac. I do think the status of whether a female character is ‘strong’ depends on whether or not they do their best to save themselves. Once Mac is properly inaugurated into the fantasy world she finds herself in, she’s more than adept at her own survival (which sadly meant less heroic and hilarious rescues from Barrons. But it also meant more scenes of Mac spearing evil!)
The two of them, though they alternatively growl and grin at each other, are there for each other in the end. For example, when Mac gets injured, Barrons is a somewhat insensitive nursemaid, but a nursemaid all the same!
“Okay, Barrons, it’s time.”
“I am not helping you shave your legs.” he said instantly.
“Oh please. As if I’d let you.”
I love, loved this book series for much more than its romance, even though this romance is going down as one of my favorites! The best part is Mac’s journey from a pink, clueless heroine to a “featherless peacock who grew claws!” The author made it a point to highlight that “pink and blonde” does not mean bimbo. Mac always has a strong sense of self and a high level of sass and spunk even when she is utterly lost. The book is more about her development as a young adult than anything else, and it’s cheesy to say, but it was relatable to me as a reader even though she was, say, learning about the Fae world rather than facing her first job or something. It’s sort of about how you keep your personality and your knowledge of yourself when everything around you changes and falls apart. And basically, how you have to grow and change and move out of your bubble to survive. There’s also a simplistic mantra she learns from Barrons: “Fear kills. Hope strengthens.” Even though she was applying it to her life-and-death situations with fantasy creatures, it resonated with me. Reading about her as she tries to resist the waves of supernatural coming her way, then as she adapts to it and finally ends up being fierce and an important player in the fate of the world was a weekend well spent. I really admire Moning as a writer because her strength lay in how she captured emotion – Mac’s grieving for her sister is as real and as quotable as her love for lip gloss. She was humorous, and created a convincing world for readers, in addition to an irresistible romance.
“Some people bring out the worst in you, others bring out the best, and then there are those remarkably rare, addictive ones who just bring out the most. Of everything.”
The Fever Series is five novels, and then there are currently a 6th and 7th novel that are more like spin-offs and from the POV’s of other characters (sort of how The Mortal Instruments could have ended with City of Glass). There is a fair bit of cussing and it is an adult book, but I think it’s great for those that love the themes in YA. I would say that Darkfever is not overly adult-ish but that the 4th and 5th books are markedly so. Each book isn’t extremely long, either (or maybe they are…truly I did not notice because I feverishly tore through them in two days) and the best thing about this series is that it gets better with every book.
CONTENT NOTE: There is some strong language in this book series as well as a few explicit scenes and some violence.
“The stuff that dreams are made of.”
“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My
feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me
to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”
*If you are reading this and do not have Overdrive or Axis 360, you should download it for free now and link up with your library so you have access to your online library in case you desperately need to finish a series on a Sunday!
Do you think you’d read Darkfever? Or have you already, since it’s so good? Comment below!Pin this article to read later! And make sure to follow us on Pinterest.