📚 Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning

Fever, Book 1

Reviewed Jan. 2019

Narrator: Joyce Bean
Length: 8 hours 57 minutes
Publisher: Brilliance Audio⎮2008

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Summary

MacKayla Lane's life is good. She has great friends, a decent job, and a car that breaks down only every other week or so. In other words, she's your perfectly ordinary 21st-century woman.

Or so she thinks...until something extraordinary happens.

When her sister is murdered, leaving a single clue to her death - a cryptic message on Mac's cell phone - Mac journeys to Ireland in search of answers.

The quest to find her sister's killer draws her into a shadowy realm where nothing is as it seems, where good and evil wear the same treacherously seductive mask. She is soon faced with an even greater challenge: staying alive long enough to learn how to handle a power she had no idea she possessed - a gift that allows her to see beyond the world of man, into the dangerous realm of the Fae.

As Mac delves deeper into the mystery of her sister's death, her every move is shadowed by the dark, mysterious Jericho, a man with no past and only mockery for a future. As she begins to close in on the truth, the ruthless Vlane - an alpha Fae who makes sex an addiction for human women - closes in on her. And as the boundary between worlds begins to crumble, Mac's true mission becomes clear: find the elusive Sinsar Dubh before someone else claims the all-powerful Dark Book - because whoever gets to it first holds nothing less than complete control of the very fabric of both worlds.

The Audiobookworm's Review

Rating: 4.25 Stars

I love a good paranormal book and I'm always in search of one. More often than not I'm disappointed. The Patricia Briggs and Anne Bishops of the world are few and far between. Knowing that, I went into Darkfever with semi-low expectations, even though it appears on pretty much all of the top paranormal lists on Goodreads. From the cover, I thought that it would be a cheesy paranormal romance with that horrible writing would turn me off immediately and another one would bite the dust...

Boy, was I wrong. Let me tell you, good writing and good narration really do make all the difference in the world. I'm still surprised at how much I enjoyed Darkfever. That realization dawned on me slowly. Moning started out with a Southern Belle trope of a protagonist but pretty quickly threw her into a foreign land. Right there, all of my premature assumptions about the MC and her actions were thrown out the window, because I've never read anything with a Georgia Peach (a real Reese Witherspoon-type) in Ireland.

To further unsettle my in accurate assumptions, Moning didn't immediately toss our MC into bed with the first hot Irish dude she came across. I mean, he definitely existed and there was a ton of chemistry, but she kept on hating him through the end of the book. Moning allowed the dynamic between them to grow and breathe. There was no suggestion of an immediate pairing, much less a triangle. That's practically unheard of in Paranormal Romance!

Without the distracting presence of insta-love or a love triangle, I was able to focus on the plot at hand. The catalyst itself was nothing particularly new or noteworthy (her sister was murdered, she wants to find out why), but what was intriguing was watching Moning's paranormal universe begin to unfold and take shape. This happened over the course of the book, not in one or two "info dumps". Moning is actually pretty great with pacing her story. She scattered her seeds of world-building in the beginning of the story, they sprang to life in the middle of it and bloomed in the end. This gradual progression made Darkfever really easy to follow. Even if I was a little bit unclear on certain aspects of the world-building at some points, it was never for too long. Moning has a really subtle way of providing clarification, without rehashing.

If you can't tell, I was really impressed with Karen Marie Moning's writing style. At this point, I'm not ready to elevate her to Patricia Briggs status, but I'm definitely eager to continue with the Fever series. It has a ton of potential, especially where the world-building is concerned. I can't wait to see what she does with it.

Narration review: It was a total coincidence that I began listening to this series right after hearing and loving Joyce Bean's narration of Matchmaking for Beginners. To be completely honest, I don't even think I registered the narrator's name before pressing play on Darkfever. But it didn't take long after that for me to recognize Joyce's warm, rich voice. The fact that she could convincingly play an elderly woman in Matchmaking for Beginners and a 22-year-old young woman in Darkfever is a testament to her talent.

I can't overstate this: My listening experience with Darkfever would have been entirely changed (probably for the worse) if it had been narrated by someone else. Mac (the protagonist) is a hit or miss type of character. Because of her age and personality, she could easily be confused with a YA protagonist. From what I recall, she mentioned her nail color by name at least three times during the story (always some shade of pink). Picture Elle Woods from Legally Blonde. If Reese Witherspoon hadn't walked such a fine line during that portrayal, that character would have been unbearably annoying. But instead, she became lovable and endearing.

Joyce Bean's voice has a lower register than most female narrators, which makes her sound more mature. Her voice is exactly what the character of Mac needed to be taken seriously and tolerated through, let's be honest, some ridiculous scenarios. Her voicing of this character influenced and enriched my mental image of Mac. I have no doubt that was by design. A+ casting! ♣︎

Let me know what you think!

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