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Karen Marie Moning

REVIEW:  Iced by Karen Marie Moning

REVIEW: Iced by Karen Marie Moning

Dear Ms. Moning,

The Fever series was exciting and unparalleled in urban fantasy. When I heard you were branching off from the Fever series with a second trilogy, I had high hopes. Sadly, this book fell short of my expectations. Whereas the Fever series was held together by the glue that was Mac and all her intricacies, Iced falls apart because Dani does not have the same charisma that Mac did.

Iced by Karen Marie MoningThe story behind Iced is that the world is still post-fairy invasion. A third of the world has died and more are dying every day. Dublin is a danger zone, but Dani O’Malley loves this new world because it offers her a chance to be a ‘superhero’. She has a salvation complex in which she insists on saving the people of Dublin from the fae, but does not receive the same gratitude back. Meanwhile sections of Dublin are being iced into oblivion and Dani must work for Ryodan, owner of Chesters, and determine how and why Dublin is once more under siege.

Your imagination when it comes to this world is unparalleled. The Fever world is rich and vibrant and deadly, and I find myself delighted with the scope and breadth of your imagination. The bestiary of the Fever world alone is reason enough to read these books, but you populate it with a vast array of characters that are interesting and well fleshed….except for Dani.

I had high expectations for this book, but the more I read, the longer it took for me to complete the novel. Again it all comes back to Dani. She is fourteen in this book, and I had my concerns that you would be able to handle such a dark and frequently sexual world with a teenaged heroine. You promised readers that you would handle it with care, but after reading Iced, I find I am extremely discomfited by the manner in which the men of the series treat Dani. She is fourteen. She looks like a fourteen year old. She acts like an immature twelve year old. Yet through the entire book, Ryodan and Christian fight and bicker over her favor. A third man, Dancer, also shows a romantic interest in Dani.

Dani finds this all gross, as she is fourteen. As a reader, I find this gross because Dani is fourteen. If it was kept to a minimum, perhaps it wouldn’t be quite so disturbing. But I feel as if Dani’s age is repeatedly tossed in to the reader’s mind. What Dani is wearing is mentioned too frequently in certain scenes: how she looks when she is in her bra, when she is wearing Christian’s pajamas, etc. The men act possessive of her and frequently discuss the woman she will become. At one point, Dani innocently mentions how much she vibrates when she is excited, and Ryodan and his men have an immature chuckle over this. I found this creepy and unpleasant. If Dani acted far more mature than her fourteen years, perhaps it would not have struck me as so distressing, but she does not act older than fourteen in the slightest. You have told readers that Dani will ‘age up’ through the series. My impression: the sooner the better.

Another part of the problem is that Dani does act so young. She is not responsible. She is brash and impulsive as any fourteen year old is, and she mentions that she has hormonal issues due to her age. But the constant ‘feck’ and superhero references grow tiresome, and I had a hard time connecting with her. I felt more empathy for Christian than I did for the heroine in whose head we spend the majority of the novel. In the Fever series, I genuinely liked Mac and wanted her to do well. In Iced, I kept wishing for someone to shake some sense into Dani. The men of the book (see my problem as noted above) talked about how smart and bright Dani was and that she had a ‘mind like a diamond’. I found that hard to believe given her childish outbursts and constant immature behavior.

This book was also extremely slow in the beginning. I believe that part of the problem was the choice of heroines: Mac versus Dani. In Fever, Mac is driven by a personal quest to find her sister’s murderer. Dani is driven by outside plot events; she must help Ryoden because she is his employee. She has no personal stakes in the first half of the story, and it makes it hard to care for her and to keep turning the pages.

Ultimately, despite the negatives, the book was readable. Your prose is always compelling and the story intricate and layered. I found myself genuinely curious how the story would turn out, and the second half of the book speeds along at a rapid pace. There is the typical Moning cliffhanger, but this one was not painful and felt more tacked-on than brutal. I do enjoy your imagination and your books, and I am still on board this series, though perhaps I will wait for a paperback release instead.

A C feels like a harsh grade for one of your books, yet when I consider rating Iced a B-, it feels too generous.

All Best,
January

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REVIEW: Shadowfever by Karen Marie Moning

REVIEW: Shadowfever by Karen Marie Moning

Dear Ms. Moning,

ShadowFever delivered all the answers I wanted to know about your fascinating world of human and Fae, and yet, after my late-night read-a-thon I feel about ShadowFever like Mac feels about herself through much of the book: bipolar.

Shadowfever by Karen Marie MoningShadowFever is the culmination of the search for the Sinsar Dubh, a ageless Fae book of immense power that gives its reader the key to the Song of Making-’the ability to create life. The fifth book in the Fever series, this story could have been a mad dash to the finish line if it wasn't bloated with internal character thoughts and philosophical musings on good and evil. I have to admit, I often skimmed paragraphs that weren't essential to moving the story forward. Some of this would have been okay, but I thought the book often got bogged down in unnecessary detail. For those of us who are already deeply invested in this series, it's interesting, but even I, a Fever-aholic, thought it was too much. I imagine readers who are luke-warm on the series will find it irritating.

Yes, the book delivers exactly what I wanted. Yet, as a stand-alone book, ShadowFever doesn’t work. It's a book that offers answer, drama, more answers, more drama, on and on, until it ends. For someone who hasn’t read all the other books, the big revelations won’t mean much, they’ll just be “oh, okay” moments, and because the answers and drama refer to so many events that occur in previous books, I think it would fall flat for a new-to-Moning reader.

I found reading ShadowFever to be a bit like riding a roller coaster. The emotional ups and downs were tremendous. I was by turns sad, excited, angry, elated, and chanting "Go Mac!" Then I'd get bogged down in character ruminations (which I skimmed), before the action would start up again.

There's a big mystery of "is she or isn't she' through the latter half of the book. Going into ShadowFever my burning question was "What is Barrons?' But that's not the right question (although it is a valid question that is answered). The real question is "What is Mac?' The quest for the answer keeps the tension ratcheted up; it's also responsible for a lot of Mac's long internal ruminations. And, yes, dear readers, the answer is revealed. In fact, no question goes unanswered in ShadowFever's 507 pages.

I was absolutely blind-sided by who was responsible for Alina's death (Alina is Mac's sister and it's her death that starts Mac's quest for the Sinsar Dubh). I should have seen it coming (hints were dropped in book 4) but I didn't. There were moments when it felt like my heart stopped and this was one of them. Learning the truth made me sad and reminded me that a recurring theme in ShadowFever is the loss of innocence.

Characters from eleven different books make appearances (often very brief) in ShadowFever. Except in a couple of scenes their cameos aren't necessary for the telling of this story, and their appearances add to the massive length of this book. On the other hand, those of us who've been with you since the Highlander series have an opportunity to meet some beloved characters again.

In the end, I believe the Fever series would have made a really great single book. The time investment for those of us who started reading it in 2006 is probably a large part of why we're so passionate about the books-’we've been thinking about Mac and Barrons for more than 1000 pages over FIVE YEARS. I suspect their story could have been told in 450 pages or less. B-.

Sincerely,

Jaclyn

********THIS MIGHT BE A SPOILER*********

P.S. The last scene at the end of the book was complete schlock. The Barrons I've come to know would never be the guy working the grill at a BBQ.

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