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Multi-Doll Review: Shadowfever by Karen Marie Moning

Submitted by on January 28, 2011 – 12:00 pm3 Comments

MacKayla Lane was just a child when she and her sister, Alina, were given up for adoption and banished from Ireland forever.

Twenty years later, Alina is dead and Mac has returned to the country that expelled them to hunt her sister’s murderer. But after discovering that she descends from a bloodline both gifted and cursed, Mac is plunged into a secret history: an ancient conflict between humans and immortals who have lived concealed among us for thousands of years.

What follows is a shocking chain of events with devastating consequences, and now Mac struggles to cope with grief while continuing her mission to acquire and control the Sinsar Dubh—a book of dark, forbidden magic scribed by the mythical Unseelie King, containing the power to create and destroy worlds.

In an epic battle between humans and Fae, the hunter becomes the hunted when the Sinsar Dubh turns on Mac and begins mowing a deadly path through those she loves.
Who can she turn to? Who can she trust? Who is the woman haunting her dreams? More important, who is Mac herself and what is the destiny she glimpses in the black and crimson designs of an ancient tarot card?

From the luxury of the Lord Master’s penthouse to the sordid depths of an Unseelie nightclub, from the erotic bed of her lover to the terrifying bed of the Unseelie King, Mac’s journey will force her to face the truth of her exile, and to make a choice that will either save the world . . . or destroy it.

is the mammoth conclusion to Karen Marie Moning’s five-book “Fever” series, which follows MacKayla Lane’s saga from its beginnings in the depths of Georgia to the dangerous streets of a post-apocalyptic Dublin, teeming with the mythical sidhe, or fae. As one of the most powerful sidhe-seers alive, and the only one who can sense powerful fae relics, Mac is alternately courted and threatened by numerous powerful and opposing factions, who all hope to gain control of the dread Sinsar Dubh, a powerful book of evil fae magic. But now the Sinsar Dubh is courting and threatening Mac, as well, and concerns about who her allies are and what motives they have become secondary to Mac’s worries about who she is and what role she is destined to play. Everything Mac thinks she knows about herself is suddenly open to question, and the answers may well decide the fate of the world.

I’ve been chomping at the bit waiting for this book to hit the stands. As soon as it did, I snatched it up and read like a lunatic. (My husband can attest to that.) Now that I’ve let it marinate for a few days, I’m just as happy as when I first finished it.

*spoilers* (Highlight to read):

How was I happy? Let me count the ways. I was happy that Mac made it back to Dublin after wandering around lost for so long. I was ecstatic to discover Barrons was alive. I was thrilled to learn Barrons would always survive. I was pleased that Darroc got killed. I was also happy that Mac learned what happened to Alina. I was supremely happy that Mac and Barrons worked out their differences. I was pleased with the Unseelie King, Mac’s parents (both real and adoptive), the beast under the garage, the concubine, the Seelie Queen, and even V’Lane (though for different reasons).


I felt that Ms. Moning tied up most of the loose ends nicely while leaving a few and creating a few new ones that she could flesh out later. Now I’m anticipating the new books with even more Mac and Barrons. There are still a few lingering questions about them, but that’s to be expected. Those answers will give more depth to the next books.

Overall, I’m completely satisfied with everything. Without over-analyzing it, delivered just what I was waiting for. I read it, enjoyed it, mulled it over, slept on it, did everything but stir its ashes, and I’m still happy. Now I’m anxiously looking forward to the next book.

This book was a complete mind “FECK” of epic proportions . . .

There is a reason I didn’t go first with this review. I am kinda the odd doll out with this book. While my fellow dolls were smitten and consumed by the story, I was frustrated. I had been waiting and waiting and waiting for to finally be released after the release date being pushed back. It may not have been such a huge deal except the fact that fans have been told (promised) from the very beginning that this was a five book series and that all would be revealed. So, I toughed out those killer cliffhangers in hopes that all would be revealed. That didn’t happen…at least in my opinion.

While several things were brought to light I feel like so much is left unfinished, and as awesome as I think Karen Marie Moning is as a person or how fabulous her fan community is, I do not think I can stick it out for another 3 book side story arc to find out what I want to know about this particular story arc. You know, the one with Barrons, Mac, and did I mention Barrons;)?

Anyway, to add to my frustration is the inner dialogue that can go an and on (and on and on and on and on and on…you get what I’m saying). When Borders released the first 24 pages (supposedly by mistake) I, like every other maniac, read it immediately. Color me disappointed when it is 24 pages of Mac’s angsty ranting and her long-winded questioning of herself and everyone else’s motives. I almost didn’t want to read the rest of the book. In fact, I only did read on because my friends had promised how kick-awesome it was, and I didn’t want to miss out. *sigh*

Aside from the things that weren’t disclosed to readers and left dangling, there are other reasons my brain is fecked. So many different things happened that turned things topsy-turvy so many times I lost count. Normally this is a good thing. To some extent readers want to be kept on their toes, but when it’s coupled with pages of inner dialogue that is reminiscent of “” verbosity, it can be a bit too much. There just seemed to be a lack of fluidity through the course of the story.

Okay, so I was am a little sad with where left me, but that doesn’t mean that there are things I didn’t enjoy. For starters, I think Karen Marie Moning has some beautiful imagery and her mind is so creative. I may not have loved Shadowfever, but I can appreciate the ideas that are it’s foundation. I loved the descriptions of things and really love Moning’s ability to make you blush when reading certain…shall I say intimate scenes. Moning’s characters also went through an evolution, and I love when authors show significant growth in their characters…I think I may have just preferred more show and less tell.

One thing this book is sure to do is take your mind captive and hold it hostage in its pages…whether you want it to or not. It is most definitely engrossing, I will give it that. There is a truly spectacular story under all the text and if you are more patient than I, you will have no problem finding the hidden treasure that is in .

I am what one might call fanatic about this series, this author. I read and re-read the books over and over. I tracked down all the information that was available to me. I bought the books in hardback because I couldn’t stand to wait another day. I traveled miles just to see the author, get her signature, and maybe a picture. I *squeed* over good news and got crushed by others. I wanted to talk incessantly about it, discuss it with my friends, so I made all of them read it too. I love this series.

I didn’t just read this book. In fact, it’s been over a week since the first time. Yes, I said first. I’ve read it again. I needed to. When I finished it that first time, I didn’t get that overwhelming since of completion it seems everyone else got. I needed a further look. My friends think I’m over analyzing it too much, but I say when a book forces you to think, you’re going to continue to do so long after it’s over.

I loved this book. While reading I was taken captive, put through so many emotions that my brain had to struggle to keep up with. Ms. Moning weaves worlds. She doesn’t just take you there, she shows it to you. She doesn’t tell you what’s happening; she puts you in the middle of the action, in the heads of the characters. It’s by far the most creative, complex and convoluted story I’ve read to date. I want to read it again right now. I gave it and it deserves it – it’s EPICness is astounding.

But you’re about to get confused because…I was also disappointed. The more this book sinks in, the more I ask myself: did I really just get something shiny to occupy my time while Ms. Moning slips by to write a new series? Some of my friends say that if something were to happen and was the last book in her ‘world’ they would be happy. I don’t agree. Where was my closure? Where are our answers? Yes, we did get quite a few at a jaw dropping level, but like with the first four, for every answer we received, we got two more questions. That’s not what we were promised: A five book series that’s completed by the fifth. That’s what I wanted. That’s not what we got.

What we got was an open end – making room for the next series. I hear it is to be about Dani/Ryoden/Dancer/Christian and that she’s already got a three book deal. (Congrats!) If it’s anything like the first and Ms. Moning keeps raising the bar in this genre, I’ll be elated. Unless I have to suffer through three more books of cliffhangers. That is something I can’t do, and won’t.

I came to this series late. I think there was some Doll named Kitt twisting my arm and telling me how great it was and how I had to drop everything I was doing and read it now. ;-) Whatever; the point is that I got to read the first four books in a huge lump, instead of suffering through years of agonizing cliffhangers like the poor sods who’ve been with this series since its earliest days. Not that I wasn’t more than slightly miffed about where ended. But I just seemed to be less invested than many of the Moning Maniacs. I hadn’t spent as much time with the characters, and there was this additional problem that I had. A four-book dose of MacKayla Lane, particularly Mac versions 1.0 through 3.0, is about three doses too many for me. Pink Mac just irritated the crap out of me, and she couldn’t grow up nearly fast enough to suit me. The fact that Barrons didn’t kill her several books ago never fails to amaze me.

So, for those reasons and others, although I was very excited to read , my expectations were nowhere near the stratosphere. I was braced for Mac to keep being an idiot and make me want to tear my hair out, and was therefore pleasantly surprised by Mac 5.0. Not that she didn’t continue to dither and question herself and everyone around her ad nauseam, but it was somehow much more bearable this time around. Perhaps it seemed to me that Mac was finally asking the right questions for a change, and finally seemed to have some idea what she was trying to do, instead of flailing around in the dark, doing nothing productive as badly as possible. Mac 5.0 with a half-decent plan is much more interesting than earlier versions of Mac, who didn’t seem to have anything better to do than play one suitor off against another and irritate everyone nigh unto death.

Speaking of suitors, it was also a relief to finally have Mac decide which mast to pin her personal flag to. Mac 5.0 is much better at facing up to uncomfortable truths than her earlier versions, and the decrease in self-deception is very refreshing. Not to mention which, when they finally get down to it, I think my glasses steamed up while reading! But it wasn’t just the raw sex – there was finally some emotional action you could really sink your teeth into. One of my favorite quotes (I won’t say whose quote it is, however) illustrates the turbulent, raw quality of the emotions that drench nearly the entire book. “‘Like’ is such a puerile word. Mediocre people like things. The only question of any significant emotive content is: Can you live without it?”

Because of focus on Mac’s internal struggles, rather than action out on the streets, a fairly high proportion of the 600+ pages is devoted to internal monologues, which can become a bit tedious at times, as Day noted above. However, I was so relieved by the content of the monologues (i.e. Mac wasn’t being a whiny brat) that I completely forgave them, even as they were happening. (And, obviously, verbosity isn’t likely to bother me. ;-) Why say it in five words when you could say it in ten??) Before I read , I had tentatively come to the depressing conclusion that Karen Marie Moning was a second class author gifted with first class ideas. While this book didn’t exactly advance her to valedictorian status, I thought it was by far the best entry in the Fever series, and helped to significantly improve my opinion of the author. While the book didn’t answer every question that’s come up over four books (“What are you, Barrons?”), and didn’t tidy everyone away into a HEA, if KMM never wrote another book in the Fever world, I could live with not knowing the answers to the questions she left open. She hit enough of the big ones, and the story came to rest at a new equilibrium, rather than the one where it started. Fortunately, it looks like I may even get the rest of my answers, some day. I’m happy to wait until then.

Reading everybody else’s reviews, I don’t really know if there is anything I can add…but hey, worth a try right? ;) In a way, I agree with everything the other Dolls said (bi-polar, moi?)

I agree with Mona about delivering what I was waiting for, I agree with Day that this book was a mind Feck of epic proportions and that sometimes I just felt a bit lost, but I also agree with Kitt – I believe the first thing I said to someone when finishing this book was that I just want to wrap myself inside and not leave (or wrap myself in Barrons, but that’s another story), I could probably match Kitt in the over analysis and I totally agree that a book that makes you think this much – especially in a work of fiction, has a great deal of merit, and boy does this book make you think!

Like Elvie I loved the emotional progression in – from both Mac and Barrons it was hot, it was raw, it was breathtaking and beautiful and every single time he calls her rainbow girl I want to cry. Good tears. I also didn’t find the verbosity to be annoying, when I need to convince myself of something – or someone else (poor someone else) I use my words. Lots of them. This isn’t a movie where you can show what she’s feeling and I think that Ms. Moning was using the words to create angst in her readers so that we truly feel the frustration fear and doubts that Mac feels.

I am more in love with Barrons than ever before and am actually pleased with Ms. Moning’s decision to not tell us what Barrons is – because her point was – if Mac loves him, it won’t matter to her. She knows WHO he is – does the what really matter? I remember after first finishing the book I felt that the questions we were left with about the future of the world etc… were an added bonus. This series wasn’t about “and they lived happily ever after” it was about Mac growing up, about saving the world and for Mac – finding love in the process.

Ending in a place where Mac still has a lot of work to do was fine with me so long as she and Barrons are doing the work together. To me, tying up all the loose threads into a nice little bow and creating a perfect little world for Mac et al to live in would have been a cop out. Life isn’t perfect, Mac isn’t perfect, Barrons isn’t perfect. The imperfections are what make this series epic and all consuming. What annoyed me was the fact that new questions were raised and left unanswered simply so that a new series could be written. That is unfair to the readers who waited so very long and were told by the author that we would get the ending we needed.

I loved it. I hated it. I loved it. I hated it – like picking the petals off a flower I kept wondering where it would end up. For me, it ended on I loved it – I truly thought this was a roller-coaster ride that got my blood rushing in all the right places – when I re-read it, will I skip over some parts? of course! But I will also be re-reading the parts I loved many many times just so I can re-visit with Barrons and Mac. As I close the door on this series, my major regret is that Karen Marie Moning didn’t feel it would be enough for us to revisit the series through the five books we have.

Will I read the series she plans on writing? I don’t know…Who knows where we will all be then? Will I be pretending that this was the end as I re-read the Fever series? Yes. It was a Epic, it was quite a ride, but like roller-coaster rides, at some point you need to get off the ride on shaky legs turn back, smile and go home. Finishing was that point for me. I’m ready to get off now. Now where did I leave the Viper…

Do not read if you haven’t read Shadowfever
and don’t like spoilers!!

(Highlight to read our answers)
First thought after finishing Shadowfever?

Kitt: (O.O) Wow, wtf?!
Mona: Awesome!
Day: Ouch! My head hurts. *exhale*
Noa: Wow, wait, what? Wow!!! Wait, over? No! *breaths*
Elvie: That was twistier than a corkscrew!!

Best LOL moment?

Kitt: Dageus and Cian’s comment “She’s sleeping with both of them?” Took me back to the Highlander days. I miss the Highlanders.
Mona: When Christian tried to cover his, um, man parts when Mac and Barrons showed up with Fiona.
Day: Mac’s mom making Barrons Apple pie.
Noa: I loved the She’s sleeping with both of them comment too :D
Elvie: When JZB is complaining about Mac’s plan to capture the Sinsar Dubh when they’re in his batcave bedroom.

A time that made you cry?

Kitt: Finding out what happened to Barrons during Mac’s Pri-ya state.
Mona: When Mac stretched out beside Barrons body.
Day: Finding out the truth about Alina’s death.:(
Noa: There were so many: the boy in the cage and his story, Alina’s true death, and every single time Barrons mentions Rainbow Girl. *sigh*
Elvie: Mac’s grief at the beginning of the book, on the cliff-side, after the dead beast is revealed to be an eviscerated, very dead Barrons.

Biggest “WTF?” moment?

Kitt: Besides the end? Who actually killed Alina.
Mona: Finding out about V’Lane.
Day: The whole thing with who The Unseelie King was or *could* be.
Noa: This whole book was one big WTF moment. I was literally “WTF-ing” every chapter, but i guess Alina’s killer would be THE moment.
Elvie: When Mac found Christian in the Unseelie prison and discovered he seemed to be turning into a Unseelie prince!

What are you looking forward to?

Kitt: Christian MacKelter’s HEA.
Mona: Ryodan, Dani, and Christian finding love, and finding out if the Unseelie King is able to undo Cruce’s damage to the concubine.
Day: I am still on a Shadowfever frenzy, still reeling and compressing everything in this book. I can’t look forward to anything else…at least not yet anyway;-)
Noa: Like Day, I’m still in a Shadowfever high. I’m too much inside the story to think of what next, but I think it will have to be – more Barrons. Always ;)
Elvie: I’m looking forward to finding out whether the walls ever get put back up, or whether, as Dani would say, world *is*. I’m also very interested to find out what happens to Dani, Christian, and Rhyoden. And I’m still looking forward to a clear answer about what Barrons and his men *are*, how they got that way, and how old they are. I’m not holding my breath on those last ones, though.

Fever series
Darkfever-October 31, 2006 ()
Bloodfever-October 16, 2007 ()
Faefever-September 16, 2008 ()
Dreamfever-August 18, 2009 ()
Shadowfever-January 18, 2011

Find Karen Marie Moning:
Website | | |

Book purchased by all Dolls.

Paperback Dolls is made up of women from different parts of the world, with different backgrounds, different tastes and beliefs that were brought together through a love of reading. We like to think of ourselves as a cyber version of "The View" that focuses on books, authors, and reading. We are proof positive that one common love can unite the most opposite of people and form lasting friendships that introduce other ways of life and perspectives to each other.
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  • Sarah says:

    I personally liked Shadow Fever, which surprised me. I was never much of a romance reader and preferred fantasy. Her story had a nice mix of the two that I could handle the romance (without feeling like I was drowning in it). It felt a little long and the mental thought processes at the beginning felt overdone a little. I felt that she had nicely established that Mac was depressed and loved Barrons. However, the book seem to be dragging on at that point and my mind struggled to move onward. However, once she had a plan I felt the speed of the book picked up nicely. Her self ridiculing was appropriate, to pretend to accept Darroc while being in love with Barrons would be hard. I did not feel that the book was really ‘complete’ because as many have noted, Mac still has some work to do. However, I am content to not know what Barrons is. To put a label on him would be to limit him and Mac expressed at the beginning of SF that he was simply ‘too large’ for that.

    I think the person who interested me the most in the book was the King. After I read it I tried to see if I could see more and more traces of him in the book and was impressed to see them. I personally would prefer to read more about him. I loved his dialogue with Mac and how he seems related to her. However, his relationship with her seemed kind of moveable. In parts she seemed like a part of him still, the Sinsar Dubh, and like his child. I want to know how things go for him and Aoibheall. He found her, however in other books he seemed aware of her (like in the Immortal Highlander). So I have many questions and would hunt her books to learn more.

    As for the character Dani. I have a love/hate relationship with her. I love her spunk and spirit. However, her attitude is a hard one for me to swallow. I feel like Mac when I think that i hope that she does not get ‘laid’ before she learns about love. Dani would seem to be another character who would need to ‘grow up’ more in the books. She is close, she is adult like at times. Yet she is not fully there yet. I would like to know who Dancer is. Moning did not drop enough info on him.

    I think my biggest surprise was learning about K’Vruck. He features in the book quite a bit and yet he seems very loosely defined as a character. Nothing is more final then him, not even death. So, what is he? A Hunter? The Hunters are not quite like him in the book. The King’s friend? He searched out Mac and the Book, however he did not seem around when DEG surfaced in the first books. So where was he during that time?

    My other main surprise was when K’Vruck killed Darroc as the Book possessed him. It was, like Mac thought, kind of anti-climatic. In the book she had worked up quite a bit of a sensation that Mac and Darroc was going to have a nice ‘shoot out’. However, it makes sense that the Book would kill him if he knew a ‘shortcut’. In a sense, Shadow Fever needed that to happen or the book’s plot might be a tad bit too easy. Still, I felt a little bad for Darroc (even though after reading the Immortal Highlander, he kind of deserved it). I now and then wonder if Darroc might not have used the Book to try to bring Alina back to life.

    I wanted to cry when I reread the section concerning V’Lane/Cruce. In a way I wanted Cruce to get his happy ending since like Moning pointed out in a blog ‘he is kind of a freedom fighter’ for the Unseelie. Looking at the series from his POV made me sympathetic. He acted like he loved Mac, or was coming to love her since raping her was the worst thing he could do. Yet, in the end the King had to ice him over. I do believe that he will be back. I also believe that Moning hinted at time travel in SF. I got the idea when Rowena told Mac (when the Book possessed her) that she was told by an ‘angel’ she needed to ‘strengthen the wards’. In the end, Cruce is described as looking angelic with his wings unfurled. So perhaps we have not seen the end of him.

    Overall, I would rate the book to be a five star book. The characters are well developed (even the ones that are not main characters have the feel of a background to them), the setting is believable, and the level of creativity makes me want to read them over again. There is so much depth to the books that I would love to get my hands on the notes she had surrounding the characters (if she writes them out).

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  • [...]   4. Shadowfever, Karen Marie Moning (genre: UF) – This book was definitely one of the most difficult ones I reviewed in 2011. Like I said in my review, and like the past year, it was a roller-coaster of epic proportions. This book left me feeling completely bi-polar – I had waited so long for the Barrons-Mac train to come in and when it did – yowzer! But, my love-hate relationship with this book means I loved it to extremes and I also kind of disliked it. More on that later… Still, Shadowfever has to go in the favorites of 2011 list. Read our review of Shadowfever here [...]

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  • [...] 1. Shadowfever by Karen Marie Moning – Oy Vey! This was such a highly anticipated book for me personally that it pains me a little to admit that it just did not live up to my expectations. The cover was GORGEOUS and I was really excited by the sheer volume of the book. I mean, what booklover doesn’t desire more pages in a great book, right? Too bad that those pages were full of verbose inner dialogue reminiscent of 1990′s Dawson’s Creek scripts and the heroine’s (Mac) flip flopity behavior made me want to strangle her. All that aside, the thing that probably frustrated me the most was the lack of a satisfying and concise conclusion. The lovely Karen Marien Moning had led me to believe that this was a five book series and all would be revealed by the end of it, but it wasn’t. *sigh* I still really adore the series as a whole but sadly, when you add up all the above factors- this last book was one of my most disappointing reads of 2011. (Read our review) [...]

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