Darkfever — book review

DARKFEVER by Karen Marie Moning. Gollancz £7.99

Reviewed by Elloise Hopkins

When Mac’s sister is murdered everyone tells her to move on, put it behind her, let it go, but that is just not good enough for Mac. No one can tell her why or how Alina was really killed but a fraught voicemail from her sister discovered after her death tells Mac that there is far more to the story than anyone can guess. With no more leads and limited resources, the Dublin police close the case and leave Mac no choice but to travel the 4,000 miles from Georgia to Ireland to discover the truth for herself.

The streets of Dublin and the trashed lodgings of her sister soon reveal far more about the murder than Mac ever expected to turn up. A peaceful pint of Guinness in a genuine Dublin bar turns into a nightmare when Mac gets her first glimpse of an Unseelie – a dark fae creature. Sadly this one thrives on sucking the beauty from willing human victims as they fawn all over it, oblivious to the powerful glamour that shows them an Adonis in place of a revolting, sore-covered monster.

Mac is a Null, not that she really knows what a Null is or what one is capable of, at least not yet. She can not only see the fae but discovers she has the potential power to defeat them – a trait that she unknowingly shared with her sister. But her sister ended up dead in an alleyway and Mac quickly discovers that the world of the fae is far darker than anything she can learn about in a book. And it is a book that seems to be at the heart of this situation. Alina’s message tells Mac to search for the Sinsar Dubh, which she soon learns is an ancient book and an artifact of dark magic.

Unfortunately her quest for the book leads her to a creepy bookshop and more specifically into the clutches of the sinister Jericho Barrons. On the surface he is an arrogant book dealer and generally aloof rich man, but he knows much about the fae and reveals as little as possible about the extent of his knowledge or his true aim. The story tracks Mac and Jericho as they search for the fae artifacts and encounter Vampires, Shades and other gruesome, paranormal creatures.

Moning uses easy to read prose which makes Mac’s tale – stomach-turning monsters, moments of surprisingly explicit content, gore and all – very digestible. The book is written in the first person from Mac’s point of view with the prologue introducing the character and all she knows. The story then jumps back in time to the year before so we have an experienced Mac describing her journey and discovering her skills. This technique of looking back through the character’s own eyes and recalling how naïve she was, and how steep a learning curve she has scaled, is surprisingly effective and works well to bring the reader into the story. The only down side for me was that the pace of the book really took off at the end and left me with a rather abrupt cliffhanger that demands book two.