At the end of Darkfever, Mac learned the identity of her sister’s mysterious lover (and possible murderer), but didn’t get the chance to strike against him. She’s still out for revenge, and Barrons still wants her help finding the Sinsar Dubh, an ancient book of evil magic. Meanwhile, Mac has to deal with too-curious Garda officers, the ever-present threat of Shades, and the machinations of the alluring Fae prince V’lane.
Then, in addition to the Shades and Rhino-boys she’s now accustomed to, Mac starts seeing another frightening figure. One in dark robes, carrying a long scythe. Is he an omen of Mac’s death, a manifestation of her guilty conscience, or something else entirely?
Bloodfever starts out feeling like a continuation of Darkfever, with Mac continuing her struggle for survival and vengeance (and Barrons continuing to be a pain in her… neck). Then Moning pulls off one heckuva plot twist and plunges Mac into a situation where she has to choose between dying and becoming a more ruthless person.
I should probably take a moment to mention the elephant in the living room, or should I say the elephant in the bookstore: Jericho Barrons is an overbearing jerk. And I’m pretty sure he’s being set up as the romantic lead for Mac. Normally I hate this kind of “hero” — about the only other one I can stand is Ilona Andrews’s Curran — so I’ve been trying to put my finger on why I’m ok with Barrons as a character even when I don’t like him much as a person. What I’ve come up with is that I can deal with Barrons because Moning, and Mac, seem quite aware of the fact that Barrons is not actually Prince Charming. He’s not the kind of guy an emotionally healthy woman would want in real life. He is the product of a hard world that has twisted him, and if he and Mac end up being well-matched, it’ll be in large part because that world is twisting Mac, too.
(Or maybe I just like the moments when Mac pokes holes in his self-importance, or the fact that he has her back when it really matters. At any rate, he’s not likable but I find him interesting to read about.)
Meanwhile, Mac’s character takes on new dimensions in Bloodfever, and then the book ends with a cliffhanger that makes me supremely glad all the books are already out so I can just dive right into the next one. Moning combines a complex mythology, smooth writing, emotional drama, and plenty of twists, making the Fever books hard to put down.
Bloodfever, the second novel in Karen Marie Moning’s FEVER series featuring Southerner MacKayla Lane, maintains the fast pace, exciting action, romantic tension, and emotional impact of the first novel. So far, Fever has not devolved into a brainless paranormal romance which is more focused on sex than plot, and at this point I feel hopeful that such an atrocity will not occur.
I read Brilliance Audio’s version of Bloodfever which was narrated by Joyce Bean. It was difficult to put down. In fact, I listened to the entire book (nine hours) in less than two days, probably annoying my family by having my earbuds in for hours at a time.
Mac is a heroine who feels real — she’s got plenty of courage and spunk, but as she learns more about her place in the world she’s also got serious and realistic doubts about her abilities and her allies. She thinks deeply and rationally, often using insights learned from her parents or from her education, not just gut instincts. Her grief over her sister’s death is heart-wrenching, making this an impressive piece of characterization. Jericho Barrons is also well-done — he’s a handsome and hardened man who remains a mystery. Mac smartly realizes that a relationship with him is not a good idea. I look forward to learning how Barrons became the person he is and I’m hoping that Mac can soften him up.
Plot-wise, Bloodfever doesn’t progress very far — it feels like an extension of Darkfever and its story could have been absorbed by the previous and subsequent novels, making this series only four books long. If I had been reading these books when they were first published, this may have been a major disappointment for me and I may have felt slightly cheated. But since I’m reading them after publication of the last book, I can simply move on to the next one. And I’m ready to move on to Faefever!