Reviews Logo
SearchHomeContents PageSite Map
Karen Marie Moning
Delacorte Press, 309 pages

Karen Marie Moning
Karen Marie Moning was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, one of four children. She graduated from Purdue University with a BA in Society and Law. After a decade of working with insurance litigation and arbitration, she quit her job to pursue a writing career. Four manuscripts and countless part-time jobs later, Beyond the Highland Mist was published by Bantam Dell and nominated for two RITA awards. Author of the Highlander series and the new Fever series, her novels have appeared on The New York Times, USA Today, and Publisher's Weekly bestsellers lists.

Karen Marie Moning Website
ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Nathan Brazil


"The Sinsar Dubh is no more real than the mythical being said to have authored it over a million years ago -- the "Dark King" of the Tuatha De Danaan. Allegedly scribed in unbreakable code, in a dead language, this author is curious to know how any collector proposes to have identified any part of it."
Darkfever is the first novel in a sequence based around MacKayla Lane, a 22 year-old fluffy American from a small town in the Bible Belt. Mac tends bar, paints her nails, wears a lot of bright colours, and doesn't think too deeply. Until her sister is murdered while studying in Dublin, Ireland. Despite rarely having travelled far outside of her locale, and knowing nothing about how to conduct an investigation, Mac decides that the Irish police have not tried hard enough to find the killer. Crossing the Atlantic, she checks in to a cheap boarding house, and sets about the daunting task of uncovering the truth about her sibling's brutal demise. Almost immediately, she finds herself neck deep in a world where ancient and lethal magic is vying with other local parties to find a powerful, ancient tome, the Dark Book or Sinsar Dubh.

Despite the soft porn jacket image, I was enthused by the premise of this novel, and hoped that the old adage about never judging a book by its cover would be proven true in this case. What I found, was a slightly queasy mixture of Barbie meets Meredith Gentry, with a side order of Mills & Boon. Mac's adventures begin in an American tourist, picture postcard version of Dublin, complete with Irish stew and Guinness. All that's missing are a few cast members from Riverdance.

What follows is an oddly compulsive story, introducing a mysterious book store owner and dabbler in darkness named Jericho Barrons, Malluce the self-styled vampire lord, a murderous boxer turned kingpin of crime, and several varieties of Fey. The supernatural characters include the Grey Man, a hideous, nine-foot-tall creature who sucks the life from beautiful women, and V'lane, a high ranked member of the Seelie court, who is literally a sex god to human women. Whenever Mac encounters the latter, she slips her bra and/or knickers off involuntarily, the spectacle hidden from passers by due to the blanking effect of V'lane's glamour! After a couple of brushes with gruesome death, Mac reluctantly teams up with Jericho -- what if Batman ran a book shop -- Barrons, who needs her Sidhe-seer abilities to locate Fey objects of power. Among them is the Spear of Longinus, familiar to followers of Christian mythology, which has the power to harm or even kill the usually immortal Fey.

Written in the first person, and retrospectively, Darkfever instantly robs itself of much dramatic tension, as the reader knows full well that the narrator must live to tell her tale. Other irritations stem from Mac's dozy determination to avoid accepting the reality of her situation, and her incessant preoccupation with nails, clothing and hair styles. Equally off-putting was the author's unrealistic approach to conversation between her major cast members. In particular, the continual use of character names, Miss Lane and Barrons, whenever the two speak to one another. In most conversations between two people, the participants simply do not use their names with anything like such frequency. They know who they are, and to whom comments are being addressed. There was also a puzzling choice of noun with the use of the word sifting to describe the Fey teleportation ability. Sifting, to me, suggests getting the lumps out of flour. Shifting, is surely a better descriptive of moving from one place to another? Happily, there are some good points. The ideas here include an ancient city beneath the streets of Dublin, and dead zones; areas of the above ground city which no longer show up on maps, are instinctively avoided by locals, and where every living thing that enters after dark is turned into a husk by its new inhabitants.

In summary, Darkfever could be described as Laurell K. Hamilton lite, sparing on the bloody violence and shorn of gratuitous sex. Intriguing and irritating in equal measure, it will no doubt appeal to Karen Marie Moning's growing fan base, and entice a host of new readers who prefer the lighter supernatural fun of Buffy over the darkness and depth of Lestat.

Copyright © 2007 Nathan Brazil

Nathan Brazil
If Nathan Brazil were dyslexic, he'd be the dog of the Well world. In reality, he's an English bloke who lives on an island, reading, writing and throwing chips to the seagulls. Drop by his web site at

SearchContents PageSite MapContact UsCopyright

If you find any errors, typos or anything else worth mentioning, please send it to
Copyright © 1996-2014 SF Site All Rights Reserved Worldwide