Friday, February 18, 2011

Review: Shadowfever

Karen Marie Moning
Urban Fantatasy
Fever/Book 5
Delacorte Press/January 18, 2011


Note: This really isn't a series to read out of order.

From the inside cover ~

"Evil is a completely different creature, Mac.
Evil is bad that believes it's good."

MacKayla Lane was just a child when she and her sister, Alina were given up for adoption and banished from Ireland forever.

Twenty years later, Alina is dead and Mac has returned to the country that expelled them to hunt her sister's murderer. But after discovering that she descends from a bloodline both gifted and cursed, Mac is plunged into a secret history: an ancient conflict between humans and immortals that have lived concealed among us for thousands of years.

What follows is a shocking chain of events with devastating consequences, and now Mac struggles to cope with grief, while continuing her mission to acquire and control the Sinsar Dubh--a book of dark, forbidden magic scribed by the mythical Unseelie King that contains the power to create and destroy worlds.

In an epic battle between humans and Fae, the hunter becomes the hunted when the Sinsar Dubh turns on Mac, and begins mowing a deadly path through those she loves.

Who can she turn to? Who can she trust? Who is the woman that haunts her dreams? More importantly, who is Mac and what is the destiny she glimpses in the black and crimson designs of an ancient tarot card?

From the luxury of the Lord Master's penthouse, to the sordid depths of an Unseelie nightclub, from the erotic bed of her lover, to the terrifying bed of the Unseelie King, Mac's journey will force her to face the truth of her exile, and make a choice that will either save the world...or destroy it.

The wait is finally over. I finished the book, wow, nearly two weeks ago but had a hard time putting my feelings into words and a review. What I ended up with is a bit different than my usual review. It's pretty long and rambling at times. I don't get into the plot, everyone is still searching for the Sinsar Dubh aka "the book". No one is sure who they can trust. Dublin is a scary place for humans. And Mac is still being Mac, depending on men. The main point of the book was to answer questions and finish the story arc. And the questions are numerous. There were what seemed like a mountain of them that have been piling up since book 1 and the hopes expectations that those questions would be answered were very inherent at the beginning of this book.

The main questions I expected to be answered were ~

1. Who is the beast that died at the end of Dreamfever? I think most of us thought it was Barrons. (It was.)

2. What the hell is Barrons? Much speculation has been made on what and who he might be. A Masters thesis could be written on the numerous possibilities.

3. Who really killed Alina? Mac thought Darroc, The Lord Master was responsible - he either did it himself or ordered it done. But it has never been said for certain who killed her.

4. Mac's real role in the whole Seelie/Unseelie battle? The fact that she can sense the Sinsar Dubh sets her apart from the other sidhe-seers.

5. V'Lane - Mac's friend or enemy? He says he wants to help Mac but can he be trusted? He is Fae after all.

6. What the hell is under Barrons' garage? Is it Barrons? The Unseelie King? Barrons' ex-girlfriends? The possibilities are endless.

All the questions were answered except for what Barrons is. That one was vague in that we learn what he, and his men, can and cannot do but we didn't really learn the why of it. Why could they die but not stay dead? What being/power/entity made them that way? And unless I missed it, no name is given to what they are. I would have like to know more, heck even Barrons didn't know how they got the way they are. Considering how long this carrot has been dangled in front of us, I would have expected a more complete answer. I do know my theory of Barrons being the son of the Seelie Queen and the Unseelie King was wrong. I guess that's something. LOL

The Mac question of what her role is. Wow - that was a real maze of twists and turns. Mac is the incarnation of the concubine. No, She's the Unseelie King. No, no, Mac is the Sinsar Dubh twin in human form. Good grief! It wasn't that it was hard to follow, I got the twisted logic as to why Mac thought these possibilities were, well, possible. It was Mac's internal dialogue that seemed to go on, and on, and on. I was tempted to skim parts but was afraid I might miss new information. As it was, Mac really likes to think things through and then think about it some more. Has she always been like this? I don't remember her being quite so chatty in the head.

Lots of questions regarding Barrons beyond what he is. Like what does he really want with the book? Love Mac or just using her? Why are the shades afraid of him? I don't really see him as a hero. He's too self serving, too cold. His reason for wanting the book was certainly valid, to help his child, but he didn't seem to care what happened after he got the spell he needed. I'm not sure what I was expecting after he and Mac finally became a couple. Maybe Barrons would soften up a little? Yeah, that was just foolish of me. He didn't. Except for the BBQing at the end, he stayed true to character. And that BBQ part was just weird.

Dani, Dani, Dani. I love her! She is one of the best parts of this series. I wonder how many readers saw her shocking revelation coming? I didn't see it. Queen Bitch Rowena making Dani lure Alina to her death was a brilliant twist. I thought Dani had a hard life before but after that disclosure I'm surprised she didn't self destruct. And when you think back to every time she was with Mac, knowing the role she had in Alina's death, that must have torn her apart, little by little. As the book progressed, I was wanting more of Dani, less of Mac.

As far as the numerous questions, yes many were answered but, in the way of keeping the readers panting for more, new questions popped up in fairly regular intervals. What are these new powers Dani has after killing the Hunter? Lor? Well, he's just a big angry bundle of questions. Christian - Unseelie Prince in the making? And the walls - can they/will they get the walls back up? I'm sure there are others but those are the ones that come to mind.

At the beginning of this series I became enthralled with Moning's world building, the diverse characters and the beautiful light and dark setting of Dublin. By the end of the series I find that I am still fascinated by her world building and curious to see how Dublin continues to change with the walls down. Her creativity has always impressed me. The twists and turns in this series are incredible. When a shocking revelation comes to light and you can look back at previous books and see all the little clues leading up to that revelation, that's good writing.

That brings me to another point. Mac and Barrons. Yes, they finally became a couple but certainly not in the traditional romantic way. Not a lot of hearts and flowers going on here. Throughout the series I've enjoyed their interactions and I did expect them to take that finally step where it become more than just sex and the goal of finding the book keeping them together. But towards the end of Shadowfever I knew I was pretty much over them. I was ready for their story to end and ready to move on to someone else. Hence the willingness to want more books from this world, just not from Mac's perspective. I'm not sure I could take more from Mac's perspective.

Speaking of Mac, there was a scene towards the end when I got really pissed at Mac. She comes face to face with this couple, Isla O'Connor and Pieter Van de Meer. They tell Mac that they are her biological parents. They weave this story of how Isla, who is a sidhe seer, was pregnant with Mac when she fled the abbey. How they gave up Mac and Alina for adoption to keep them safe. At first Mac is skeptical. At this point in the story, she is full of herself, believing she is the Unseelie King. Mac really knows how to power trip. But after little proof, Mac buys into this story, ready to embrace Isla and Pieter as her parents.

[Mac] They were saying all the things I wanted to hear. It was breaking my heart. I had parents. Brothers. I'd been born. I belonged. I only wished Alina had lived to see this day. It would have been perfect.
page 515

As I was reading this scene I kept thinking "What about Jack and Rainey Lane?! The people who raised you? " It's like she completely forgot them. Maybe it was because of so many things happening to Mac over such a short period of time, but her character seem to shift from one belief to another fairly easily.

The overall story arc does come to a conclusion with a final showdown between evil and not quite evil. I'm not sure if by the end you could call anyone in this drama truly good. The remaining sidhe seers maybe? Everyone has their own agendas and it wasn't always for the good of the world. I did like the revelation of V'Lane being Cruce. It explained a lot of V'Lane's actions. The Unseelie King didn't impress me much. He acted more like a kid who had lost his favorite toy, his concubine.

So what grade to give? The biggest problem I had was with Mac. And since it's primarily told from her POV it did cause some problems. She is so very wordy and repetitive in her thinking. I know this is a long series with long spans between books. I do appreciate reminders of what has come before, there were just too many long monologues from Mac. Too much back and forth in her thinking. I do love the world building and want more set in the Fever world. And Dani was certainly a positive in the story.

It looks like the good and bad are fairly balanced. But after all the build up, I was hoping to have that sense of "Aaah" and a smile on my face when I closed the book. What I had were more questions and a surprisingly easy time of moving on to another book.

Rating: C+

Books in this series ~



  1. Wow Leslie, what a really well thought out review. I rated the book higher than you did, but as I was reading the things you had issues with, I can completely see where you are coming from. When I first started reading the book, I thought Mac sounded weird. I could tell that the author was wanting to show that Mac had evolved to this other side of herself and I think that was the reason for the weirdness. I admit I was worried because of all of Mac's ramblings, but then things started happening and questions got answered.

    Overall, I think the uniqueness, characters and dialogue just blew me away. There is no doubt about Ms. Moning has talent. But I don't think this book or series was perfect by any means. However as far as entertainment goes, this gets an A++ from me. I couldn't put it down, nor wait for subsequent books to get published. That has to stand for something. I always think that when a book has a lot of hype associated with it, it has to be hard to live up to fans expectations.

  2. Excellent review Leslie. I had some of the same issues with this book. Despite the fact that I still find the world that KMM built fascinating, I had huge problems with the book -- the lack of answers, and/or conclusion to the series with extra questions added, the long, drawn conflicting internal dialogues from Mac. I was over her by the first chapter and that's not a good thing. The repetitiveness throughout the series (rinse and repeat), drove me wild. And I DO think that the whole thing could have been done in two books, three at the most.

    I totally agree that the best part of this book was the V'lane storyline... loved the twist there. I was over Barrons a while back too, but all that speculation for what? Meh! The BBQ? Totally out of character.

    Anyway, I liked it less than you did. :D I won't be reading whatever spinoff series comes from this. Not getting caught up again. LOL!

  3. Great review, Leslie :) Not a fan of KMM, so I haven't read this book, but I've paid attention to reviews. It seems to vary widely :)

  4. Jill ~ I don't know if it was all the anticipation or the hype but it just didn't live up to it for me. I do plan to read the spin-offs, so you're right, that does count for something. :)

    Hils ~ Sadly, had there been less of Mac, I think I would have enjoyed it more. It's sad because I used to really like her character. She's come such a long way since Darkfever.

    Nath ~ Yes, the reviews are all over the place from A++ to DNFs. I can see both sides, I only wish it had been on the A side for me.

  5. Like Hils' reveiw, I agree with a lot of your points on how Shadowfever had a lot of shortcomings. But at the same time, like Jill, I thought the entertainment level was pretty high. I didn't get annoyed with Mac or her internal dialogue like you did. Maybe because I'm a lot like Mac with the thinking, thinking and overthinking of things. It felt natural to me. LOL!

    I thought it was kind of cheap to not fill us in on what exactly Barrons and his men really are. Even if we didn't get full disclosure... there should have been something. I also felt shortchanged with the Barrons and Mac love story. I know it's not a romance ... yet I think their 'love scene' was ... off. It felt like the timing was off. I think KMM could have done a better job with that. It didn't feel natural... the timing felt off and their dialogue felt a little lacking. Not as much depth and understanding and admission of feelings as I would have hoped for OR as what I came to know Mac wanted. Oh well. It's over.

  6. Christine ~ It's only 'The End' for now so who knows who might turn up in the next book/spinoff. :)

    Mac & Barrons did feel off. Possibly because there was so much that had to be included to get to the Cruce/Unseelie King/Mac showdown that the Mac & Barrons relationship took a backseat to it all.

    I do plan to read more from KMM, Dani & Christian being the ones that will keep me coming back.