Someone recommended that I try Moning’s books at some point last year when I first got back into reading again. I found myself unable to choose between the Highlander series and the Fever series, so in the end I bought the first book of both. I read the Highlander one first and it was something akin to watching a horrific car crash take place – I couldn’t suspend my disbelief far enough to enjoy it, but I couldn’t tear my eyes from it and I was left feeling frustrated with no wish to read any more of Moning’s work. Unfortunately, I now expected Darkfever to let me down in the same way and I approached it as such, which was unfair of me. And boy, was I wrong.
Presentation: Mass market paperback. The font is medium-sized, well-spaced. There are 342 pages broken down into a prologue and 25 chapters. The book also contains a glossary, which I found helpful at times.
Story: MacKayla Lane, your typical southern belle – blonde, green eyes, obsessed with pink – receives a phone call informing her of her sister’s gruesome murder in Dublin, Ireland. She soon realises that before her death, Alina tried to contact her, leaving a cryptic message on her voicemail in which she informs Mac that she has to find the shi sadu, whatever the hell that is.
Disturbed by the event, the message, and the fact that the Irish police have shelved her sister’s murder as unsolved, Mac leaves Georgia and flies to Ireland, hoping to unravel the mystery behind what led up to her sister’s murder herself. But everything is not as it seems in Ireland. The stories she hears about her sister do not sound like the Alina she knew, and Mac soon starts seeing things that seem as impossible as they are real. Against her better judgement, she finds herself in league with the mysterious, but pompous, Jericho Barrons. She needs his help to understand this new world that she has found herself in… for the fae are after her now.
Thoughts and impressions: It took me two attempts to read this book. The first time I picked it up soon after reading Beyond the Highland Mists (which, as previously mentioned, I did not enjoy) and I only made it to page 24 before I could not take the shallowness of pink-loving MacKayla Lane anymore. The second time I picked it up, I did not stop reading until I’d finished it.
Once the story gets going, it really is very good. Mac is shallow, but that just means that she’s got lots of room to grow. I love the idea behind the plot: the Fae are pretty much invaders from outer space – they keep their good (Seelie) and bad (Unseelie) factions. The Unseelie have been stuck in a prison for millennia but now its walls are falling and the Unseelie are infiltrating human society at humanity’s cost. Mac is one of a small number of people who can see the Fae for what they really are behind their human disguise and she is horrified by what they are and what they do. The different Fae do different things: there’s one that steals beauty from its victims and I loved the one that kept making Mac remove her clothes in public without her being aware of her actions.
Mac alternately frustrated me with how shallow and material she is and amused me for the same reason. Despite myself, I found myself genuinely growing to like her character.
Style: Some problems here and there but overall polished and well-written.
Final verdict: Definitely worth the read. I’d already ordered in book 2 before I reached the end of this one. 4 stars.
Extra notes: This story contains its fair share of swearing. There is no actual sex but the book is a far cry from clean. It is not YA. Older teens and up on this one.