Sunday, January 23, 2011

Review: Shadowfever (Fever Series, Book 5) by Karen Marie Moning

I'll begin by saying that there's no way to write this review without giving away some spoilers. This is the last book in a series of five, plus in order to really get into the story and express my thoughts, I must refer to characters and events.

Book Summary:
Shadowfever begins where Dreamfever ends, with Mac killing the Beast that protected her while she was lost in one of the Silver's dimensions. As the Beast turns into a human, she finds out this beast is none other than Jericho Barrons. Mac is grief-stricken and through that grief, comes to terms with her feelings for Barrons and comes to the decision that she wants him back. The outcome of her deep, dark grief is again one more transformation. When she looks into herself, she accesses a dark place where she can conjure runes to protect herself and/or bind others, mainly the Fae.

Mac proceeds to align herself with Darroc, the Lord Master, in order to get whatever information he has gained about the Sinsar Dubh. He appears with the Unseelie Princes, and after coming to an understanding, agrees to take Mac out the Silvers. In order to get back to Dublin, Darroc must use a Silver and he takes Mac through the Unseelie King's concubine's White Mansion where some of Mac's buried memories come to the forefront.

But all is not as it seems, and Barrons is not dead. A chain of events unfolds where, through reading different translated prophecies and experiences dreams and recollections, Mac ends up questioning her origins. In the meantime, after Mac rescues the Seelie Queen from certain death, the hunt for the Sinsar Dubh is redoubled and all the interested parties assemble in Dublin. The McKeltars come from Scotland and join the fray, Rowena and the Sidhee-seers are at the center of it all, as are V'lane, the Seelie and Barrons men. Everyone wants the Sinsar Dubh, and most of them want Mac dead.

I'm a fan of Karen Marie Moning's work and when I began reading this series, I was excited and thought that the story was quite interesting. I still think the story behind the series, the battle between the Seelie and Unseelie, their lore and how humans and the Sidhe-seers come into it, is fascinating. As a matter of fact, I spent countless hours doing background research and I still have copious notes, including the sequence of events, characters, etc. Having said all that, the Fever series as a whole has been inconsistent for me -- I enjoyed the second book and the rest were inconsistent or disappointing.  When it comes to Shadowfever well... in many ways it provided what I know many were looking for: a happily ever after and the answer to some questions. However, for me personally, the book was a disappointment. Here is why.

By the time Mac finished processing the fact that she killed the Beast, or Barrons, I was already tired. Where did that come from? I understand that she felt guilt, that there was lust between them and dependency on her part. But where did love come into it? The long, interminable diatribe we were treated to at the beginning of the book served no other purpose than to set up the following scene. Mac's transformation, again! Yes... because of her actions, guilt, and need to erase those actions, she transforms and (gasp) gains ADDITIONAL powers. This device was used to death in this series, and became a predictable device.

Throughout the series, Moning uses long and involved internal dialogues to develop Mac and to narrate her story. However, in Shadowfever this style is used to an extreme. There are pages and pages where Mac contradicts herself over and over again throughout the whole book. This often served to confuse and distract the reader. After a while, all it achieved was frustrate me and yes... I wanted to skim Mac's prolonged and contradictory self-analyses. I couldn't stand her thoughts any longer and just wanted to get on with the story. Period.

As a female protagonist/heroine, Mac left a lot to be desired. I was not impressed. She was manipulated by all the males around her, and the ones with the real "Power" were ALL male: Barrons, V'lane, Darroc, the Unseelie King, the Sinsar Dubh (yes), and Ryodan. She depended on them, one way or another, to do what she had to do. They played her like a violin. I don't care how many transformations she had to make her into a "kick ass-type heroine," Mac wasn't strong for herself, instead she was strong for others or because of others.

Then we come to Barrons and the "romance." Barrons treatment of Mac is explained away by making him part Beast, yet even when he is a man... his treatment is questionable. He is often violent, possessive and downright abusive at times (both verbally and physically). They fight and have sex and that's supposedly where they truly understand each other. How is that supposed to be romantic? It's not. Mac's see-sawing, back and forth feelings for Barrons continue in this book! No, it's not over after she realizes he's alive... it goes on and on. Yet, they do come to a sort of mutual emotional understanding and dependency by the end. I still think that in order to call it love, that relationship needs further development.

There are resolutions to some of the threads, and some of those resolutions are good -- some predictable and others not. There's a "happily ever after" for one couple in the book that was unexpected,  and there are plenty of betrayals by both friends and foes. We are told there are battles, although few of those are shown, and characters from the whole series make appearances.

As to the rest of the storyarc, there were threads left incomplete left and right, and some that didn't seem to serve a real purpose. For example: The McKeltars were a waste of pages read, what was the point? Christian McKeltar plays a key role in this book and series, yet his story is left incomplete. Barron's story is also left incomplete -- although some details are revealed about his past to pacify readers, there's no meat to his story, no in-depth details or revelations. Dani has her own point of view in Shadowfever, yet she disappears and is absent at the end, leaving the reader wondering what happened to her. And last, but certainly not least, the most important story line of them all! The Seelie and Unseelie, the wall and their battle? Incomplete.
    So what does that tell this reader, apart from the fact that the book finishes with "The End .... for now?" Well, it says that either this series' "ending" is riddled with holes, or that there will be a continuation that will involve all the above mentioned story lines. And for me neither is acceptable, not when this book was supposed to be THE END to this series.

    Category: Urban Fantasy/Romance
    Series: Fever Series, Book 5
    Release Date: January 18, 2011
    Grade: D

    Visit Karen Marie Moning here.


    1. OH NO! I didn't read the review b/c I have yet to even start book 2, but I wanted to see your grade. I'm scared. LOL

    2. Ames, don't be too scared by my grade. If you look around most readers seemed to just love it. Unfortunately, I had quite a few problems with the book and it didn't work for me.

      PS: I really enjoyed book 2. :D

    3. Well I look forward to reading book 2! LOL

    4. Wow, I'm sorry you didn't enjoy it. I thought it was one of the best books in the series.

      The reason all of Barron's past wasnn't reviled yet is because the new spin off series of set in Fever world is coming out and I believe it is Dani's story and her story wraps her up with Ryodan.

      My guess is with Ryodan we will find out more about how and why these men became "The Damned Ones" (aka beasts).

      I was happy Moning left some mystery for the next Fever spin off series and thrilled that the Dani/Mac storyline would continue to play out in the new series.

      I truly enjoyed every page and couldn't put the book down.


    5. MsM, I'm so glad you loved this series all the way through!

      I understand that there's a sequel to the series coming, it was obvious by the way things were left open-ended. Unfortunately, I believe that a series should be wrapped up satisfactorily before another one begins, as I was hoping this one would.

      I did enjoy parts of the book! V'lane's story line was wrapped up beautifully (great twist), and I loved the story of the Unseelie King and his concubine. :)

    6. I skipped the review and the comments cause I'm trying desperately to be good and avoid spoilers. :)

      But crap - a D? Awe Hils, I feel bad for you. I so wish this had been a far more satisfying read for you. Do you know I still have a printout of all the notes you posted on KMM's Highlander books and Darkfever? I know how much you enjoyed those books and really wish this had been a better one for you. :(

    7. I haven't read this series, so dived into your review. Fantastic review...and I'm not going to read this series. I'd heard about how nasty things would happen to Mac and she would gain more powers...not for me.

      Sorry it didn't work for you though :(

    8. I agree with you, Hilcia. I hope you didn't pay hardcover price.

    9. Hello!
      I've skipped everything, every comment, I just wanted to see the're not the first of the bloggers I follow that didn't like the book, I'm beginning to be afraid, I'll only be able to read it next month but now I'm skeptical.
      I mean, I'm not crazy over the series, to be honest the first book wasn't such a big deal, but I confess, I kept going because of Barrons lol, he is intriguing.
      Now I'm reading mostly because I want to know how it ends. I hope I like it more than you lol, especially because I'm not a 100% fan of it.
      When I finish the book I'll come back to read everything lol ;)

    10. Leslie, there ARE spoilers in this review! Glad you skipped it then. :) Sigh... I still have all my notes too. I had such fun gathering those. I'm sad this didn't work out for me too... I loved parts of it. You know that. :D

      Orannia, glad you read the review and enjoyed it, lol! It's always good when you know a book/series is not for you and you stand fast. I enjoyed the beginning, and then... it just didn't work for me.

      Reny, I was lucky (mayber smart)! I bought this book for my Kindle with a Gift Certificate. So, no real loss for me. :D

      Sonia, hi! A month is a long time to wait! I don't know what to tell you, except that it didn't work for me. But, I would definitely love to read your thoughts once you're done with this series.

    11. I have the first book and debating if I should read that book plus the rest of them. Glad to get a different perspective and different grading on the book! All the As and plus' gets to me...because we all know there's no perfect book. Lol.

    12., so sorry it didn't work out for you. What a bummer. I am really debating about reading the book at all at this point. Like you, I was thoroughly under the impression that the series would be wrapped up within the five books - not left hanging so much. I do believe that this was one thing that was mentioned by Moning earlier on in the series, that things would get wrapped up, that we'd get all the answers, etc. If she can't stick to that, I think my reading of her work is at an end.

    13. Tabs, who knows you might like it? I'm glad you enjoyed a different perspective on this book. I always enjoy reading different POVs too. :D

      KMont, sigh... yes. You know I had a few hopes till the end, but it didn't work out for me. I had problems with the book itself, but the fact that the series itself was not really wrapped up was a huge disappointment. We remember the same thing, a 5 book series. And that means just that, the end and issues covered/resolved by book 5.

      I'd love to read your thoughts if you do read it. Who knows? You might see things differently.

    14. Just a by the way: it's Christian not Christopher McKeltar that plays an integral role...little detail you might want to get right.

    15. Thanks so much for pointing that out Anonymous! Of course it is! Yikes... Christopher is Christian's father... lol! I'll edit.

      Thanks again. And thank you for coming by. :)

    16. Hi,
      It was nice to see your POV on things. I of course love Karen Moning and disagree with your grade. I think D is way too low for the talent that Karen has. She didn't acquire her fan base by writing something that people don't like. I gave her an A :)

    17. Hi Anonymous!

      I'm glad you enjoyed a different POV, but most of all I'm happy that you loved this book and series. I'm also a long-time KMM fan and wish this book had worked for me. It's unfortunate that it did not. :(

    18. D ??!???!

      Oh, Hils. I don't think we can be friends anymore.

      LOL! Just kidding!

      The thing is... I agree with a lot of the shortcomings that you present in your review of Shadowfever. Yet, I really enjoyed reading Shadowfever. I thought it was exciting, interesting and very suspenseful. Yet at the same time, all of your points are so true! I agree that KMM left too many unanswered questions and even presented some new 'holes' that didn't get answered. I don't see how the 'spinoff' series is going to be a 'spinoff.' It needs to be a continuation and in that sense, the Fever audience was mislead. HOWEVER, I was on the edge of my seat nearly the entire book as Mac was trying to figure out who she is, how she's connected to the damn book and the Faery world... and what she's supposed to do about it all. I agree that that the men in this series all manipulated Mac, but I still think Mac grew as a character and I still think she did alright by herself considering. I can't blame her for the actions of the men... so I was still impressed by her survival and determination to figure the heck out of everything and do the right thing.

      I'm sure I'll end up reading the spin off series... I still need answers. :/

    19. LOL, Christine!

      I am so glad that you enjoyed this book! You were so excited about it and I was hoping for you.

      I think if I'd been able to enjoy Mac's internal dialogues, I might have felt some of that excitement too. I know what you mean about how interesting the story itself is... it's the reason I finished the series. I still think as a whole the story is really interesting. I love the premise. Unfortunately, I had problems with the execution.

      Maybe next time we meet, we can have one of our in-depth book discussions. ;P

    20. I don't think we should discuss it when we see each other. I'm afraid I'll see the logic behind your impressions too clearly and I'd rather stay on the happy side of this reading experience. LOL! But I'm sure I could find a few things to complain about... ;)

    21. Oh definitely keep that happy feeling. By then, we should have other books to discuss. :D

    22. WOW! I"m so glad I read this post. I'm a fan of KMM for many years. I enjoyed the FEVER series and look forward to reading many more. But SHADOWFEVER for me was a major let down, and as you put a Disappointment. There were times that I had to skip pages, and pages of MAC"S BORING dialogue with herself ugh I couldn't take it anymore.

      As a reader I feel played with, teased and tormented with no end in sight. I had in my possession what I believed were finally answers to all the five years of waiting...and that as an avid reader deserved and yet there were NONE. But a lot of readers enjoy this mystery and suspense I can honestly respect that. But for me personally it was a bit too much.

      I hope KMM cleans up DANI's dialogue because her language is chaotic I coulnd't understand a bloody word.

      Yes I too as a reader would give Shadowfever a D. Thank you for your honesty!!

    23. Anonymous, it's just unfortunate that this series ended on a down note for some of us. I'm glad you enjoyed the review. :)

    24. Shadowfever is, by far, the best book in this series! All of the questions, fears and skepticism I had in this series was, at last, answered in this epic book. All of my theories were so wrong but I'm so glad that they were and I am so uber happy with how the story finished. Barrons is such a freaking beast and I want him all to myself!! And Mac, what a force she's become... and with so many more possibilities left to be played out.

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