At the end of Faefever, Mac was brought low, her free will stolen by the schemes of the Lord Master and the powers of several Fae. In the early chapters of Dreamfever, Karen Marie Moning makes the unusual decision of switching to another point of view, that of Mac’s teenage friend Dani, who narrates the first few days after the walls between the worlds fall down. Dani’s style of narration can be a little jarring after one is accustomed to Mac’s voice, but these chapters give us an idea of what’s going on in the world while Mac is out of commission.
Four days later, Barrons comes for Mac. (We don’t learn till later why the delay, and certain other characters exploit that mystery for all they’re worth.) No one has ever recovered from being turned into Pri-ya (a Fae sex addict), but Barrons has a plan to bring Mac back. For me, Dreamfever could be subtitled “The One Where Barrons Finally Won Me Over.” Is he still a jerk? Sure. But after the first 60-something pages of this book, I no longer have doubts about his feelings toward Mac or his determination to protect her. Through Mac’s rather addled point of view, we see a new side of Barrons. He’s surprisingly funny (Tubthumping!) and it’s also clear that the whole situation is tearing him up. He wants Mac to recover, but at the same time, he knows that when she recovers, so will her distrust of him. There’s a sexual aspect too, but the sexuality is almost the saddest thing of all, because that’s not how anyone (Mac, Barrons, or the reader) wanted this to happen. These scenes are touching enough that I felt teary a couple of times.
Then, with Mac back to her old self (though a more hardened version of herself) Moning expands the story. In the first three books, up until the penultimate scene in Faefever, this was a fairly personal tale. The larger world was threatened, but the focus was mainly on Mac and the small circle of people she knew. Most of humanity was oblivious to the plot events. Not so here. As Mac reenters the world, she learns what has happened in her absence. When she sees the map showing all the new Dark Zones and the number estimating the Earth’s current population, it’s chilling. This battle just got much bigger.
I felt bogged down briefly in the scenes of sidhe-seer politics. Later, though, I realized the problem was not that I didn’t like these scenes, but that I was so caught up in another plot point that I wanted the story to get back to that instead! I told myself to be more Zen about it, and was able to enjoy the moment more fully.
Mac learns more about the history of the sidhe-seers and about her own family, both blood and adoptive. Then, while trying to respond to a dire threat, Mac finds herself spirited into a Fae realm that’s just as seductively dangerous — and for much the same reasons — as J.K. Rowling’s Mirror of Erised. From here, she has some adventures that would be more expected in a high fantasy than in an urban fantasy. Moning shows plenty of creativity here, plus a heightened ability to write descriptive prose.
Dreamfever ends on the mother of all cliffhangers. Things look devastating, but I’m about to start Shadowfever, and I’m reminding myself that these books have always been full of fairy-tale references. The final scene of Dreamfever is reminiscent of a particular fairy-tale scene, and in the tale, things come out OK in the end. I’ve got my fingers crossed…
Come back and fight, Mac!
After a major set-back at the end of Faefever, Mac’s got a lot of work to do at the beginning of Dreamfever just so she can get back in the game. The first scenes of this novel, the fourth in Karen Marie Moning’s FEVER series, are horrible and heart-wrenching and not at all how we were hoping things would turn out for Mac. It’s a real emotional blow for both Mac and the reader, but there’s a silver lining: we finally get some much-needed proof about Barrons’ character.
Once Mac gets her life back in order, things start moving fast and the tension never lets up. Dreamfever contains my favorite scenes of the series: when Mac gets lost in the “silvers.” Dreamfever ends with an incredibly cruel cliffhanger and I can’t imagine the agony that Moning fans were in when they read this book after publication and then had to wait for book 5! Fortunately, it’s out now. Trust me: you’ll want to have Shadowfever in hand because you will not be able to resist opening it immediately upon finishing Dreamfever.
For audiobook readers, I need to warn you that Joyce Bean, the narrator for the first three books in the FEVER series, did not narrate the last two books. The new readers are Natalie Ross and Phil Gigante. Natalie Ross is a Texan and I actually liked her better than Joyce Bean as Mac (more authentic Southern accent) except that she changed the pronunciation of the names “V’lane” (to “Vuh-lane”) and Rowena (to “RO-win-uh”). It took me some time to adjust to Phil Gigante doing the male voices. Surprisingly, it worked well with Gigante saying the man’s line and Ross adding “said Barrons” (etc.) at the end. What was jarring, however, was that Gigante (who is actually one of my favorite readers) has a deep bass voice and he interpreted Barrons differently than Bean had, making Barrons occasionally sound like some sort of evil overlord caricature (especially when he laughed: “Muwahahaha”). I adjusted to the new voices, and I still enjoyed listening to this on audio, but I was disappointed about the switch… just so you know.