Just finished reading Darkfever by Karen Moning in about five seconds. It’s easy to see why it has such a following – it’s gripping, fast-paced, and unspools its mystery just enough to leave us dying for more.
Sunny, carefree MacKayla Lane’s sister is murdered in Ireland, and the police are out of leads. Mac travels to Dublin to find her sister’s killer, but quickly finds herself in the middle of a power struggle between Earthling underworld ringleaders and the unearthly Fae. On her side (probably?) is the enigmatic Jericho Barrons, helping Mac avoid a gruesome death while using her as a bloodhound to sniff out a Fae book of power.
Things I liked:
Mac is a great lead – sassy, headstrong, and devoid enough of common sense that she manages to land herself in one entertaining (and scary) scrape after another. I liked watching her hold as tightly as she could to her Southern Belle roots as she slowly submerged into the world of Dublin paranormal. Mac’s love for her sister, and need to find out what happened to her, is instantly relatable and made me cheer her on. Moning’s world building is excellent; she introduces us to the Fae at just the right pace, and makes the darkening Ireland terrifyingly believable.
The best part of the book, IMO, is that it is engrossing and an exceptionally fun read. Moning excels at hooking the reader, who just can’t wait to find out what happens next.
All books have flaws; mostly I’m about celebrating what authors are doing right. I do have real concerns, however, about books where women are attracted to abusive men. Within the initial pages of the book, Mac’s presumed eventual love interest, Jericho Barrons, has already bruised her chest from holding her tightly against her will and held her against a wall by her throat, not because she posed a danger to him but in order for him to assert dominance. He spends the remainder of the book belittling her, withholding information from her while putting her in life-threatening danger, and being, in general, horrible. Let me just be clear: the fact that he saves her life, or any potential future changes he might make, does not excuse this. Nothing excuses this. You should never, ever date people like this, whether or not they possess what seem to be this character’s attractive qualities of being rich, handsome and strong. Do not have relationships with people who abuse you, it’s not okay.
It’s worth noting that the author goes to great lengths to separate Mac from anyone who might perform the function of Get A Grip friend. She apparently has no close friends back home; her parents are desolate over her sister’s death; a female employee of Barrons is jealous enough to refuse all of Mac’s conversational overtures; and the lone Irish woman who has the potential to be of help is . . . well, frankly, there’s not a good enough reason that Mac doesn’t turn to her for help. I point this out, though, because separating a potential victim from other human ties is a classic tactic of abusers.
Just to reiterate: it’s not okay for people to treat you the way Barrons treats Mac. Ever.