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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Karen Marie Moning: FEVER SERIES

Plot Type:  Urban Fantasy (UF)
Publisher and Titles:  Dell
      1    Darkfever (2007)
      2    Bloodfever (2008)
      3    Faefever (2009)
      4    Dreamfever (2010)
      5    Shadowfever (2010) 
      6    Iced (a Dani O'Malley novel; 11/2012)
      7    Burned (1/2015)
      8    Feverborn (1/2016)
      9    Feversong (1/2017) (FINAL)

This ongoing post was revised and updated on 2/17/2017 to include a review of Feversong, the ninth—and FINAL—novel in the series. That review appears first, followed by an overview of the world-building and reviews of novels five through eight.

  FAIR WARNING! This review contains SPOILERS for previous novels.  
                         NOVEL 9:  Feversong                         
     MacKayla Lane and Jericho Barrons return in the epic conclusion to the pulse-pounding Fever series, where a world thrown into chaos grows more treacherous at every turn.

     As Mac, Barrons, Ryodan, and Jada struggle to restore control, enemies become allies, right and wrong cease to exist, and the lines between life and death, lust and love, disappear completely. Black holes loom menacingly over Dublin, threatening to destroy the earth, yet the greatest danger is the one MacKayla Lane has unleashed from within: The Sinsar Dubh—a sentient book of unthinkable evil—has possessed her body and will stop at nothing in its insatiable quest for power.

     The fate of Man and Fae rests on destroying the book and recovering the long-lost Song of Making, the sole magic that can repair the fragile fabric of the earth. But to achieve these aims, sidhe-seers, the Nine, Seelie, and Unseelie must form unlikely alliances and make heart-wrenching choices. For Barrons and Jada, this means finding the Seelie queen, who alone can wield the mysterious song, negotiating with a lethal Unseelie prince hell-bent on ruling the Fae courts, and figuring out how to destroy the Sinsar Dubh while keeping Mac alive.

     This time, there’s no gain without sacrifice, no pursuit without risk, no victory without irrevocable loss. In the battle for Mac’s soul, every decision exacts a tremendous price.

     Once again, Moning includes an extensive Fever World Guide at the end of the novel. You may wish to review the following people, places, and things that play key roles in this final novel. If you take a moment to skim through these before you begin reading, you'll save yourself the bother of leafing to the back of the book when you come to some of these terms in the story:

Sidhe-Seers (pages 507-511 in the hardcover format)
     MacKayla (Mac) Lane (O'Connor): the series heroine

     Alina Lane (O'Connor): Mac's sister—who is now back from the dead.

     Danielle (Dani) "the Mega" O'Malley (aka Jada)the gifted, mutated sidhe-seer who has had a seesaw relationship with Mac and a complicated relationship with the two men in her life.

The Nine (pages 511-513)
     Jericho Barrons, Ryodan, and Lor play important roles in this novel.

The Unseelie Fae (pages 514-520)
     The Unseelie who play the most important roles in this book are the Unseelie King, the Dreamy-Eyed Guy, the Concubine, and the diabolical Cruce.

The Seelie Fae (pages 520-522)
     Aoibheal (aka Zara, the Seelie Queen).

The Keltar (pages 522-524)
     Christian MacKeltar

Humans (pages 524-528)
     Dancer Garrick     
     Inspector Jayne

Characters of Unknown Genus (pages 528-529): They all make brief appearances, and I had to look them up to refresh my memory.
     K'Vruck, Sweeper, and ZEWs

Places (pages 524-528)
     Arlington Abbey: home of the sidhe-seers, which was completely destroyed in the battle that climaxed the previous book.

     The White Mansion (located inside the Silvers)

Things (pages 532-541):
     The Cuff of Cruce  and the Spear of Luisne, both crucial to the plot

     The Silvers: mirrored portals between Fae realms

     The Sinsar Dubh: This is the magical book around which the entire plot revolves. 

     The Song of Making: Key to the resolution of all of the conflict in the past few books.

    This is a lengthy book (500 pages plus the Guide), and the plot takes many twists and turns. Adding to the length are several flashbacks that take us back to critical past events in the lives of Mac and Dani/Jada. We also get the full details of Alina's death, through her eyes and those of her murderer. And one last flashback: the entire story of the Unseelie King and the Concubine. At times, I wished that Moning had published some of these flashback stories as novellas, but perhaps she wanted to weave them more closely into the events of this novel. In any case, they frequently interrupt the action and slow down the pace. 

     Moning divides the novel into four parts, each beginning with an appropriate quotation from Sun Tzu

Part I (chapters 1-32): "To know your enemy you must become your enemy." (Mac vs. the Sinsar Dubh)

Part II (chapters 33-50): "Swift as the wind/Quiet as the forest/Conquer like the fire/Steady as a mountain." (Mac and her friends search for the Song of Making and try to stop the black holes from touching earth.)

Part III (chapters 51-60): "Victory is reserved for those who are willing to pay its price." (In this world, a win never comes without a penalty, so the two persons who ultimately save humanity must each make a huge sacrifice.) 

Part IV (chapters 61-65): "Courage above all is the first quality of a warrior." Mac and the gang deal with the fall-out from the events of Part III. Dani has some horrific personal problems. 

     Throughout the book, Mac, Barrons, and their allies must deal with a multitude of problems. Dani/Jada summarizes the situation: "Black holes devouring the world, the Song of Making lost, nearly half her sidhe-seers injured or dead, another attack on the abbey imminent until Cruce was freed or destroyed, the Unseelie King and former queen absent, Mac possessed by the Sinsar Dubh. Banner day in Dublin." Here are some additional plot details:
> Mac spends the first 40% of the novel trying to fight against the effects of being possessed by the Sinsar Dubh, which has taken over her body, suppressed her mind and soul, and now plans to kill all of the Unseelie and then destroy the human world. Here is Mac's description of her horrific, helpless ordeal: "It's dark. I can't breathe. I can't see. Blind, I exist in a void, a tightly compressed Mac-in-the-box, waiting for someone to crank my handle. The body I don't have tries frantically to gulp air. Though I no longer have a mouth, somehow I scream and scream." This conflict plays out during Part I.
> Throughout the book, the biggest problem for both the human and Fae population is the existence—and the growth—of the black holes that have been popping up all over the world. As more holes appear, and as they get larger and larger, it seems that the world is on the verge of the apocalypse. As soon as the holes touch the ground, they will begin sucking in the very earth—and everything and everyone that stands on it.
> Dani/Jada and Mac are friends once again, but now Dani has to decide whether Dancer or Ryodan is going to be the man to whom she gives her virginity. New information about both men cause Dani to have second thoughts about both of them. Moning uses this novel to insert mini-stories about Dani's childhood, her time lost in the Silvers, and her relationship with Shazam. (We FINALLY get some answers about Shazam: Who/what is he? Is he real or imaginary? How did Dani meet him? Where has he been?)
> Throughout the book, Cruce, the powerful Unseelie prince who wants to lead his people, continues to plot in the background and to harass Mac and her friends.
> Mac and Barrons have settled in as a couple, with each asserting his or her independence and stubbornness. Just as in the previous book, they have several steamy love scenes. 
     Although it took me a long time to get through this massive novel, I did enjoy it immensely. Moning works her way through all of the story lines, resolving the conflicts as she goes, so that by the magnificent (but bittersweet) ending all secrets are revealed, all stories are told, and all lives are on track for the future (except, of course, for those who didn't make it through to the end). Near the end, Dani/Jada has a poignant moment of introspection in which she voices one of the major themes of the series: "I know a funny thing about eyes. Where you let them look is where they take you. Look back and you stay stuck in a lost, forever unattainable past. Look forward and you live."

     This has been a richly imagined series with an inventive mythology, multi-layered characters, and engaging plots. If you are new to the series, I recommend that you set this book aside until you have read the previous FEVER novels. I can't imagine that you would be able to understand what is going on without the context of the earlier books. Even for seasoned readers of the series, the Fever World Guide is invaluable. I found myself referring to it a number of times as I read the book. 

     Click HERE to go to Feversong's page to read or listen to an excerpt by clicking on either the cover art or the "Listen" icon. 

     When MacKayla “Mac” Lane travels to fae-infested Dublin to find her sister’s murderer, she discovers that she is a sidhe seer (i.e., she can see the fae). Mac gets caught up in a search for ancient fae relics that will enable her to save the world from fae domination. The primary relic is the Sinsar Dubh, the book that contains dark magic from the memories of the Unseelie King, who disappeared years ago. This sentient book, which disappeared from its imprisonment by the sidhe seers years ago, can possess the bodies of both humans and supernaturals and use them for its own purposes.

     Mac has several love interests, primarily Jericho Barrons, the mysterious owner of the bookstore she manages (and lives above), and V’lane, a handsome but sly fae prince. Barrons is not human, but Mac is not sure exactly what he is. The two have a love/hate relationship, but underneath their constant bickering, they are deeply attracted to one another. In the meantime, V'lane tries his best to seduce Mac, whisking her away to romantic beaches and whispering sweet nothings in her ear. Many characters in the series—V'lane, Mac, Barrons, and others—want the Sinsar Dubh, each for his or her own reasons, and those reasons make up the threads of the plot. 

                         NOVEL 5:  Shadowfever                         
     At the beginning of Shadowfever, Mac focuses her revenge on Darroc, the human ex-fae who has become her arch enemy. Mac has always suspected that Darroc had a role in her sister's murder, and she will always hate him for his role in her gang rape at the hands of his Seelie Princes (in Dreamfever). As the plot progresses, the Sinsar Dubh is in Dublin, possessing one mortal or supernatural being after another and turning them into murderers. Shadowfever follows Mac, Barrons, and the sidhe seers as they try to figure out how to capture the Sinsar Dubh and render it impotent. The plot takes many twists and turns, and every time Mac thinks she has figured things out, new information pops up and she's back to square one. 

     You will be happy to know that—FINALLY—most of the questions raised in previous books are answered. By the end of the book, the Sinsar Dubh problem has been solved in a way that you'll never predict. And when you learn the shocking reason that Barrons has been so desperate to get the Sinsar Dubh, your heart will break. Also in this book, Mac discovers new information about her biological parents and about her childhood that will transform her life forever. On the last page, of Shadowfever, Moning writes "the end" but on the next page she writes, "for now" so there may be another volume some day.

     If you like complex plots that involve the complicated relationships between the Seelie and Unseelie Fae, you'll enjoy this series. The characters are well developed and the series story line moves in a steady line towards the satisfying conclusion in Shadowfever. I warn you, however, that you will get frustrated during the first four books because numerous issues are raised and problems presented, and you won't get the answers until book 5—and even then not all of them. Click HERE to read or listen to an excerpt from Shadowfever on the book's page. Just click on the artwork or the "Listen" icon.

                         NOVEL 6:  Iced                          
     This novel is set in the year 1AWC (After the Wall Crash)—the first year after the Wall between Faerie and mortal earth came down. The Fae, in all their vicious glory, are swarming into Dublin, and Dani (aka Mega) O'Malley sees herself as the superhero who will save the humans of her city in a Batman kind of way. Dani is the first-person narrator of this novel, and here is her analysis of the situation: "Imagine a world that doesn't know its own rules. No cell phones. No Internet. No stock market. No money. No legal system. A third of the world's population wiped out in a single night and the count rising by millions every day. The human race is an endangered species...All of the Fae are free: the deadly Dark Court and the imperious Light Court, who are every bit as deadly, just prettier....We're being hunted by voracious monsters that are nearly impossible to kill. Their favorite food? People....The Fae have no king, no queen, no one in charge. Two psychotic, immortal Unseelie princes battle for dominion over both races. Humans have no government...It's complete chaos." 

     Now ordinarily, this would be a fine, exciting premise, but in this case, Dani is 14 years old, a fact that we are reminded of constantly throughout the book. Picture Dani as behaving like a typical middle-school-age child, with all of the slang use, pop cultural references, raging hormones, and sexual naiveté that implies. Now add in a bunch of adult (sometimes immortal), powerful men who view her in a sexual manner, and the situation gets a bit icky. The book is full of double entendre scenes in which either Dani (unknowingly) or the men (slyly) make verbal references that mean something innocent to Dani and something sexual to the males, and these scenes can be uncomfortable for the reader. On Moning's website, she states that this novel "straddles the line between YA and adult uneasily." In my opinion, "uneasily" is an understatement.

     To review, here is some background on Dani, who has been a supporting character in previous books: Dani calls herself "human" but appears to be more than that. She has the ability to move very quickly from place to place by "freeze-framing." Here is Dani's description of that process: "I start at point A, lock down a mental snapshot of everything around me, hit the gas, and in a blink I'm at point B. It's only got a couple of downsides. One, I'm constantly bruised from running into things at top speed because some of the things I lock down on my mental grid aren't stationary, like people and animals and Fae. Two, freeze-framing requires a ton of food for fuel....You know those movies where folks wear rounds of ammo on their body? I wear protein bars and Snickers." Dani is extremely smart, able to pull together clues and analyze situations with great accuracy, and this is one of the reasons Ryodan needs her. Dani loves Dublin and she loves her life: "I love moving the way I do. I can't imagine life any other way. Whenever something is bugging me, all I need to do is zoom around the city, spy on all the slo-mo Joes trudging through, and I instantly feel a million times better. I've got the coolest gig in the world. I'm a superhero." 

     When Dani was a small child, her mother always kept her in a cage to prevent her from freeze-framing away, and this is where Dani got her intense fear of being locked up. To keep Dani occupied during her cage time, Mom kept the TV on and gave Dani a remote, and this is the key to the frequent references Dani makes to old TV shows and movies (which she watched over and over again on cable). When Dani's mother died, Rowena (the former head of the sidhe-seers), moved Dani into the abbey and controlled her even more strictly than her mother had. Rowena used Dani almost like a tool to commit horrendous crimes against the people she wanted to punish, and one of those unfortunate victims was Mac's sister, Alina. Rowena believes that Dani has "a neurological condition synesthesia..., with all kinds of cross regions of my brain talking to each other....She said my Id and Ego are best buds, they don't just live on the same floor, they share a bed." 

     The situation between Dani and Mac is still hostile. Dani stays out of Mac's way because she is sure that Mac plans to kill her because recently (in Shadowfever), Mac discovered that Dani killed Alina—the event that was the reason Mac came to Dublin in the first place, way back in book 1 (Darkfever). Both Mac and her lover, Jericho Barrons, are seen only on the far sidelines of Iced, but that will change in the next book.

    Here is a summary of the plot of Iced: The cataclysmic fall of the Wall came on Halloween, and Iced begins in May of the following year. Dani has been approached by Ryodan (Barrons' brother) to do a job for him, but she has refused. Dani hates the fact that Ryodan owns Chester's, a sex club where humans come to be preyed on by the Fae, and she does her best to kill as many Fae as she can near the club. It's obvious to everyone but Dani that Ryodan has plans for her and that those plans don't involve getting her permission or consent. Ryodan, who was cruel but self-controlled in previous books, now comes across as a vicious and arrogant sociopath. He (and others) treat Dani like chattel to be possessed, punished, and locked away until needed. In addition, Ryodan loses control to the point that he hits Dani and abuses her physically in several scenes, once even chaining her up in an underground dungeon—one of Dani's scariest nightmares come true.

     Another of the supernatural men obsessed with Dani is Christian MacKeltar, the Highlander who was accidentally turned into an Unseelie Prince by Mac and Barrons. Christian goes through his final stages of transition in Iced, and he is determined that Dani is his, and his alone. Poor Christian. He was a nice enough guy in previous books, but now the Unseelie death-through-sex mojo has changed him into a succubus-like creature who is consumed by his sexual needs all the while he is trying to keep Dani safe from Ryodan and the other Unseelie Princes.

     The actual story line of Iced focuses on Dani's search for the reason that various buildings and groups of people are being iced over by an unknown perpetrator. People caught in the ice soon die because each frozen tableau eventually explodes. Ryodan wants Dani to figure out who is doing the freezing and why. Here's a description of the first frigid scene that Dani visits: "Each person and Fae in the room is frozen solid, silent, white, iced figurines. Twin plumes of diamond-ice crystals extend from many of their nostrils; exhales frozen....These folks look like they somehow got frozen right where they stood." As the story advances, Dani and Ryodan visit one frosty crime scene after another as they search for clues and dodge the icy explosions.

     Dani's situation gets worse when the police chief, Captain Jayne, steals her Sword of Light, which is one of only two weapons that can kill a Fae. The sword has always been Dani's protection from all of the supernatural evils of Dublin, and without it she is at the mercy of just about everyone. "Without my sword the princes can take me hostage, turn me into one of their mindless sex-crazed slaves and use me as a weapon." Dani's swordlessness results in an appalling scene in which a Fae prince unleashes his sex glamour on Dani, and she rips her clothes off in a frenzy of lust—very disturbing. Remember, she's only 14.

     There is one more man in Dani's life, and this one is (maybe) a human: Dancer, her long-time BFF. Dancer is a physicist and a genius, and he and Dani hang out together discussing Dublin's Fae situation, watching old movies, and eating junk food that they scrounge from closed-down convenience stores. Their relationship is close but platonic, although it appears to be on the edge of transitioning into something deeper. Needless to say, neither Ryodan nor Christian is a big fan of Dancer.

     Dani tells the story very effectively in the first-person voice. That voice is sometimes annoying, but, after all, she is an adolescent so being annoying is a given. Two other characters occasionally interrupt Dani to voice their own descriptions of events: Christian, the soon-to-be Unseelie Prince, and Kat, the new Grand Mistress of the sidhe-seers, who is being visited in her dreams by the imprisoned Cruce, another of the Unseelie Princes. Cruce's identity and imprisonment played an important part in the final scenes of Shadowfever. He wants out of his dungeon cell, and he uses all of his magical powers in his attempts. Christian's story is interesting as he tries desperately to hold on to his human characteristics as he unwillingly slides into his new Unseelie identity, but Kat's clash with Cruce and especially her relationship with her human lover, Sean, don't add much to the plot of this book.

     This book pulled me straight into the action and kept me reading in a can't-put-it-down mode until the unpredictable and very exciting finale. Although the much-too-young age of the heroine is a minus, I still recommend the book for its well-developed characters, compelling action, and plot inventiveness. Moning is a masterful writer who maintains beautifully effective control over her story lines, and this book is no exception. The reader should be sure to pay attention to every detail—particularly the quotations from the Book of Rain that appear on the first page of each of the three sections in which the book is divided—because every one of them has meaning and provides clues.

     I recommend that you read the previous FEVER novels before reading this one because that mythology is the foundation of this new series, and it is very complex. Click HERE to read or listen to an excerpt from Iced on the book's page. Just click on the cover art or the "Listen" icon.

                         NOVEL 7:  Burned                         
     While the previous novel was voiced primarily by Dani O'Malley, this one is told from many perspectives, including Mac, Kat, Lor, Christian, and a new character or two. Although Dani's first-person adolescent voice is included only at the beginning of the book, she is definitely one of the most important characters, along with MacKayla (Mac) Lane, Dani's former friend and current nemesis—or so Dani believes. In the first chapter, Mac finally catches up with Dani, hoping to patch up their former friendship. Unfortunately, Dani believes that Mac is out to kill her in retribution for Dani's role in the death of Mac's beloved sister. During the chase, Dani leaps through a portal and then through another portal, believing that she will be going to a particular realm but—too late—discovering that she has landed in another. That's the last we hear of 14-year-old Dani for awhile, but her presence is felt throughout the book, and when she reappears, we see an entirely new side of her personality.

     The novel begins with a scene that took place all the way back in book one of the FEVER series: a sexually charged meeting between Mac and Jericho Barrons that he forced her to forget. Events in this book cause her to remember it, and that memory causes some friction in their relationship (to put it mildly). Following that scene is a Prologue that tells the sad story of the Unseelie King and his soul mate, who have just been reunited after a centuries-long separation caused by the evil Prince Cruce.

     The chapters are told from alternating perspectives, mostly Mac's, as Dublin begins to recover from the destruction wrought by the Fae during the Wall Crash. All over the world, cities have fallen, millions of humans have died, and survivors are living a hand-to-mouth existence. The world is now overrun with the seductive, insatiable Fae, who think of humans as prey. The book has several story lines, each featuring a different main character:
> Mac is being followed by a horde of smelly ghouls, who crowd up against her and won't leave her alone. She doesn't know where they came from or why they won't go away. The only time she is free of them is in the bookstore, which is protected by Jericho Barrons' powerful wards. Mac is also dealing with the fact that she is now the carrier of the Sinsar Dubh, the book of dark magic that was the focus of the original FEVER novels. She has kept this a secret from everyone but Barrons, because she knows that if anyone finds out she will probably be entombed alongside Cruce in the bowels of the sidhe-seers abbey. Early in the book, Mac finds out the hard way that when she uses her magical spear against an enemy, the Sinsar Dubh takes over, turning her into an indiscriminate killer who learns what she has done and who she has killed only when she wakes up from a black-out and finds body parts strewn around her. Mac is desperate to find the elusive Unseelie King so that she can convince him to remove the book.
> Jericho Barrons is trying to pull together a group of leaders from opposing factions—Seelie, Unseelie, human, and the Nine—to prevent outright war among the groups and to keep Dublin under control. That group includes two of the Unseelie princes who gang-raped Mac in an earlier FEVER novel, so you can imagine how tense those meetings are. 
> Christian MacKeltar, the unlucky young Highlander who ate Unseelie flesh and is turning into an Unseelie Prince, has been captured by the Crimson Hag, who has him chained to a mountainside and is periodically flaying him and pulling out his guts (which she uses as yarn to knit herself a dress). Mac and the MacKeltar clan members are trying to figure out where he is and how to rescue him before he goes completely insane. 
> Ryodan, the world's biggest control freak, is still keeping his eye on everyone and his fingers in everyone's business, but late in the story, Mac gets a chance to spy on him and learn some of his secrets. Ryodan is also worried about an expanding number of "cosmic deficits" that are manifesting in the areas that were frozen by the Hoar Frost King (in the previous book). These deformations are growing in size and number and are functioning like black holes, absorbing everything they come in contact with. 
> Lor's life hits some major bumps when he has a run-in with an Unseelie Princess and then with Ryodan. Ryodan has been sleeping with Jo for the past few months, but before he can break it off with her and move on to another woman, she breaks it off with him and turns to Lor for sexual gratification. Lor's best lines come when he explains to Jo the hierarchy he uses to select the women he beds for his frequent one-nighters (p.292). His method is based on the premise that the color of a woman's hair (blond, not brunette) is extremely important to a man who wants to fulfill his sexual needs without romantic entanglements. Lor's monologue is totally sexist and crude, but humorous in its own way. He has obviously spent a great deal of time refining his sexual philosophy. 
> Katarina (Kat), the new grand mistress of the sidhe-seers, is dealing with a number of problems that are connected with Cruce. When she goes to Ryodan for help, he takes matters into his own hands in that über-alpha way that he does everything. Kat is also dealing with the fact that Sean, her soul mate, has turned to the dark side by taking over the Black Market in Dublin. 
> The Unseelie King—the one who forced the Sinsar Dubh on Mac—has found his long-lost Queen, but is shocked when she doesn't remember him. In exchange for a kiss, the Queen forces the King to strike a bargain that will have ramifications for Dublin's human world. 
> Several new characters are introduced—including some new sidhe-seers—but I don't want to give any spoilers by telling you much about them. Suffice it to say that they change the course of the action by their mere presence.
     This is another fast-paced, action-filled novel filled with well-developed characters, creative story turns, and a surprising ending that sets the stage for the next novel. We learn a great deal about Dani's background and her early relationship with Ryodan. In particular, we get an explanation for the way Ryodan treated Dani back in the earlier novels. He had his reasons for doing what he did, and we finally find out what those reasons were. Many reviewers, myself included, criticized Iced because of the way Dani's character was sexualized—after all, she is only 14 years old. In Burned, Moning "matures" Dani in a very unexpected manner. Although I had a little trouble accepting how Moning handled this, I soon found myself so engrossed in the story-telling that it all began to seem possible—even probable. Plus, the series story arc couldn't have continued with Dani as an adolescent all alone on the wild and violent magical streets of Dublin.

     Several of the characters, including Mac and Christian, have crises of faith in this novel, and each is forced to accept the tragedies and pain of the past and the present and make a conscious decision to survive and move on, no matter how uncertain the future may be.

     Towards the end of the book, Mac muses, "I'm no longer certain what worries me more: the danger beneath Chester's, the one beneath the abbey, or the one inside me." She's talking about the black holes (one is beneath Chester's), the dark effect that Cruse's imprisonment beneath the abbey is having on its inhabitants, and the sly and dangerous Sinsar Dubh, which constantly taunts Mac and tries to goad her into using its dark magic. These three elements will no doubt be dealt with in the next book.

     If you haven't read the earlier books in the FEVER series, you won't understand half of what's going on in Burned. If you're a regular series reader, you'll want to read this one because it moves the story line along some brand-new pathways. FYI: This book has many graphic sex scenes; everybody seems to be doing it and having a great time. I'd rate it a 4 in sensuality

     Let's hope that the period between novels 7 and 8 is much shorter than the huge gap between 6 and 7. Whenever the next book arrives, I'm looking forward to the resolution of some old story lines and the development of new ones. As Ryodan says to Mac, "Welcome to war games…where the terrain never stops changing and he who adapts fastest wins." Click HERE to read or listen to an excerpt from Burned on the book's page. Just click on the artwork or the "Listen" icon.

                         NOVEL 8:  Feverborn                         
     When the immortal Fae destroyed the ancient wall dividing the worlds of Man and Faery, the very fabric of the universe was damaged, and now Earth is vanishing bit by bit. Only the long-lost Song of Making—a haunting, dangerous melody that is the source of life itself—can save the planet.

     But those who seek the mythic song must contend with old wounds and new enemies, passions that burn hot and hunger for vengeance that runs deep. The challenges are many: the Keltar at war with nine immortals who’ve secretly ruled Dublin for eons, Mac and Jada hunted by the masses, the Seelie queen nowhere to be found, and the most powerful Unseelie prince in all creation determined to rule both Fae and Man. Now the task of solving the ancient riddle of the Song of Making falls to a band of deadly warriors divided among—and within—themselves.

   Once a normal city possessing a touch of ancient magic, Dublin is now a treacherously magical city with only a touch of normal. And on those war-torn streets, Mac will come face-to-face with her most savage enemy yet: herself.

    Before I begin my review, I want to thank Moning for including an extensive Fever World Guide at the end of the novel. The Guide includes specific references to key events from earlier novels and presents meaty annotations about people, places, and things that fall into the following categories:
Sidhe-Seers: Persons on whom Fae magic doesn't work, capable of seeing past the illusions or "glamours" cast by the Fae to the true nature that lies beneath. Some have additional powers. This group includes, among others, the series heroine, MacKayla (Mac) Lane; her sister, Alina; and Dani O'Malley, who is now calling herself Jada.
> The Nine: These men are powerful, shape-shifting immortals. This section provides annotations for five of them: Jericho Barrons, Ryodan, Lor, Kasteo, and Fade.
> The Fae: Also known as the Tuatha De Danann. An advanced race of otherworldly creatures possessing enormous powers of magic and illusion. They are divided into two courts: the Unseelie and the Seelie factions. This section provides annotations for the primary Seelie and Unseelie characters in the series. 
> The Keltar: An ancient bloodline of Highlanders trained in druidry to uphold the Compact between the races of human and Fae. This section provides annotations for the current Keltar druids: Christopher, Christian, Cian, Dageus, and Drustan.
> Humans: This section includes, among others, Mac and Alina's adoptive parents; Dani/Jada's best friend, Dancer; and Inspector Jayne, leader of the Guardians.
> Characters of Unknown Genus: This section includes, among others, creatures such as the K'Vruck, oldest of the Royal Hunters, and Sweeper, a collector of powerful, broken things. Sweeper plays a major role in this novel.
> Place: This section includes, among others, Barrons Books & Baubles, now owned by Mac; Arlington Abbey, headquarters for the sidhe-seers; Chester's Nightclub, owned by Ryodan; and the Dark Zone, which plays a sinister role in the cliff-hanger ending of this novel.
    The point of view changes frequently. Although the bulk of the story is told in Mac's first-person voice, many chapters are written from the third-person perspective of Jada, Christian McKeltar, Papa Roach, Cruce, and the Seelie queen. At least one of Christian's chapters is written in his first-person voice.

     Throughout the book, Mac, Barrons, and their allies are forced to deal with a multitude of problems:
Mac is still trying to figure out what effect the Sinsar Dubh has on her. At one point, she decides that there are three possibilities: 1. that the Sinsar Dubh is already open and that she has unconsciously been using its magic without repercussions; 2. that the Sinsar Dubh is closed and tricking her, making her underestimate its power until she tries to reach for a spell and turns into a psychopath; or 3. that her growing powers are not related to the Sinsar Dubh at all, but are actually part of her sidhe-seer heritage. Mac is on the right track with one of her three choices, but neither she nor the reader will find out which one until the last page of the book (so please, don't peek at the ending).
Inexplicably, Mac keeps seeing a woman who looks exactly like her dead sister, Alina. Could this be an hallucination caused by the Sinsar Dubh? Is it a Fae illusion? As the sightings become more frequent, Mac takes action to find out exactly what's going on.
Mac and her friends need to find a way to close up the black holes that began to appear after the Wall fell. The holes suck in anything that gets close, and they get bigger each time they "eat." The only way to stop the black holes from multiplying and growing is to discover the Song of Making, "The greatest power in the universe, this song can create life from nothing…Originally known by the first Seelie queen,…It was to be passed from queen to queen, to be used only when absolutely necessary to protect and sustain life." Unfortunately, due to the imprisonment of the Seelie queen, the song has been lost and must now be found by our intrepid heroine.
Mac and Jada are being hunted by both humans and fae because they have been publicly denounced as psychopathic and evil by a local newsletter that is posted everywhere in Dublin. Mac is also being pursued by a creature called the Sweeper, but she doesn't know what it is or why it wants her.
Everyone is trying to deal with Jada—Dani's new, grown-up, very surly persona—with mixed results. Ryodan still wants to control Jada, while Mac wants to make amends and Dancer just wants his friend back (hopefully, with benefits). Jada is hostile to everyone but Dancer, who welcomes her new Jada self unconditionally, unlike the rest of the group who make it clear that they want the old Dani back. We finally get a summary of what happened to Dani/Jada during the five and a half years (Fae time) that she was lost in the Silvers (magical Fae mirrors).
Christian MacKeltar is changing into his new Unseelie prince form, including unearthly Fae beauty and a pair of black wings. He is incensed when he discovers that Ryodan lied to the MacKeltars by sending the body of a random Irishman home to them instead of the body of his brother, Dageus, who supposedly died in the previous book (Burned). Eventually, Ryodan and Barrons are forced to confess that Dageus is turning into one of the immortal Nine and is currently being imprisoned beneath Chester's.
Meanwhile, deep in his cage beneath the Abbey, Cruce, the powerful Unseelie prince, continues to plot his comeback with assistance from an ally who is willing to take on the dangerous task of spying on Ryodan.
    For all of you who look forward to the passionate love scenes between Barrons and Mac, you won't be disappointed. I'll award this novel a sensuality level of 4.

     In this novel, Moning spends a great deal of time examining the ever-changing relationships among the main characters, particularly the varying ways everyone deals with Jada's new personality and worldview. The author leaves us with a breathless cliff-hanger ending that does not bode well for poor Mac. If you are a fan of the series, this is a must-read because of its final scenes. If you are new to the series, I recommend that you set this book aside until you have read the previous FEVER novels. I can't imagine that you would be able to understand what's going on without the context of the earlier books. Even for seasoned readers of the series, the Fever World Guide is invaluable. I found myself referring to it a number of times as I read the book. Click HERE to go to Feverborn's page to read or listen to an excerpt by clicking on either the cover art or the "Listen" icon.

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