I attribute many favorable things in my life to my insatiable love of reading. More than anything, though, I greatly attribute my continued sanity to the blissful respite that I am gifted when I get lost in a story. Escapism is why I read. Life is hard, and stressful, and fast-paced and has a tendency to knock us down many times in a single day. Having something that allows me to forget about life’s tribulations, both trivial and profound, is the break my mind needs to heal, to recharge. That’s where Karen Marie Moning comes in.
Fictional worlds and characters are my drug of choice, and nothing sates my appetite better than Moning’s lush, thrilling, terrifying, sexy, complicated, beautiful and utterly relatable FEVER series. Moning is a brilliant writer, who spins intricate webs of plots and subplots that span the entirety of the series (nine books in all). Her characters are complex and lovable and flawed and heroic and capable of great good and great evil. The human emotion is so raw and powerful that you will inevitably come away with some of your own bruises and scars, thanks to Moning’s incomparable gift with knife-edged dialogue and gutting her readers with her unforgiving ways— a gift she takes the utmost delight in. She loves to torture us. That’s how she knows she’s doing it right.
Moning’s characters are quite possibly the best I’ve ever read. The men that fill the pages will make any red-blooded, straight woman pant with lust (making their partners very happy– that lust has to go somewhere!), and rage with fury. The men evolve beautifully throughout the series, but in a completely believable way. It’s the women that are the true stars of the series, however.
Quick synopsis: The FEVER series is an urban fantasy series consisting of nine books. It is set in Dublin, Ireland and revolves around the Tuatha Dé Danaan (basically, super deadly, super tempting, super beautiful Faeries), crashing the walls that separated them and humans for millennia, resulting in them preying upon the human race with reckless abandon.
MacKayla Lane discovers her sister, Alina, who had been studying abroad in Dublin, dies under suspicious circumstances, and Mac races from the Deep South of the United States to Ireland to try and find answers. She finds, instead, that she is a powerful sidhe-seer, part of a contingent of women than can see and protect humans from the Fae. She is forced to break through her shallow, sheltered shell in order to survive, and rises to the occasion beautifully.
On the surface, Mac is a vapid, inherently flawed heroine. One that, until that fateful summer day when she learned of her sister’s death, had never known an ounce of strife or pain. She was so cocooned in her happy, carefree life, that the possibility of unspeakable tragedy befalling her had never actually crossed her mind. We watched her break. We watched her vacillate. We watched her come crashing to her knees, over and over again. Despite all of that, though, we ultimately watched her prevail. We watched her rise and pick herself back up and put the pieces of herself back together, bit by bit, again and again.
That is the mark of a true hero. The ability to keep fighting, even when it feels as though there is nothing left to fight for… or with. What is the alternative? Rolling over and dying is not a suitable option, and so the fight rages on.
That is not to say that Mac did not face many, many struggles along the way, or even that she won every battle. She lost, a lot, and she lost badly. Instead of giving up, though, she touched up her lip gloss and eyeliner, straightened her “I’m a juicy girl” t-shirt, fluffed her hair and tried. the. fuck. again. She adapted, she evolved; and because of that, ultimately she will be victorious.
Mac is not the only badass lead heroine in the FEVER series, and for that I am forever grateful. The FEVER world is positively lousy with fantastic females, though none really fully compare to the one and only Dani “Mega” O’Malley. When we meet Dani, she is a prickly 13-year-old that is too smart, and too “super” for her own damn good. Dani is also a sidhe-seer, and she enjoys the powers of super strength, super speed, and super senses. She’s 13, which is hard enough, and all the awkwardness and hormone rage are exacerbated by the sheer force of her. But, my God, is she magnificent.
She is pure, and good, and lives every single second of every single day to the fecking fullest and makes no apologies about it. Her childhood was tragically sad– born to an impoverished, single mother who was not equipped to rear a girl as powerful as Dani, she spent most of her young life in an oversized, industrial-strength dog cage, watching life happen all around her through iron bars, with only the television as her companion. After her mom died, the Headmistress of the sidhe-seers, Rowena, loosed her from her prison, and brought her to live at an old abbey with some of her sidhe-seer sisters.
Rowena, however, had the power of mental coercion. She was Dani’s savior, and Dani trusted her implicitly, but Rowena used her. She turned her into a murderous puppet, and damn near broke her. But Dani bounced back, as Dani always does, and continued kicking ass and saving people, even though many of them didn’t want to be saved. For her, the world was black and white: there was right, and there was wrong. There were humans, and there were Fae.
Dani’s story has more twists and turns than the Serpentine Wall, but her heart never falters. She never ceases loving life, and all that it has to offer, and she never lets those twists dim her spirit. She is the ultimate survivor and chameleon, and she will adapt to all possible scenarios.
These fascinating characters are a direct reflection of the woman that created them. Karen Marie Moning has this uncanny knack for bringing raw, human emotion to life on page. Throughout my FEVERish journey, I have felt in my bones every moment of sorrow, joy, excruciating pain, shock, passion, lust, agony and joy. Every time I step back into the FEVER world, I have to mentally prepare myself, for I become so inextricably invested in the well-being of these fictional characters that my mind can focus on little else. I become so entirely consumed by the story, and the possibilities of what could come next, that I find it nearly impossible to do anything but listen to the audio book at every free moment. I make MORE free moments, so that I can sneak in a few chapters here and there. My need to know what happens overtakes everything else that I should be focusing my mind on, like work, and Girl Scout meetings, and you know, just general wife-ing and parenting. Thankfully, my husband knows this about me, and loves me anyway. Even finds it kind of endearing. Weird, huh?
Anyway, he knows when a new KMM book hits the shelves, I will ghost the fuck out of him until I get through it. He’s okay with it, I make it up to him later.
I’m about three-quarters finished with the final book in the series, FEVERSONG, and so far it has delivered on absolutely every front. I am literally dreading reaching the end of this book, because I know that it’s really over then. I am so not ready for that.
If you’re looking to get into a new series, I can offer no higher recommendation than Karen Marie Moning’s FEVER series. It excites, it destroys, it rebuilds. You will hate her as much as you love her for putting your favorite characters (and, subsequently, YOU!) through the misery she doles out; but it will an experience well worth the suffering.
You may come away a little battered, but you will also come away with a new favorite series that will caress you with one hand, while the other creeps slowly up behind you with a dagger in its grips, ready to rip out your heart. What can I say? I’m a girl who really likes it when it hurts so good.