Wednesday, November 23, 2011

It's Ooooooverrrrrr!

So, I'm avoiding my latest book post, so you guys get the last post I have on Moning's Fever series.  Enjoy.  Seriously I haven't felt like this since I read the last book of Harry Potter.  Except, I feel slightly better knowing that Moning has more books in the works.  That's right, today's post features the last (for now) of Mackayla's adventures in the Fever series: Shadowfever. This book is easily the best in the series as far as I'm concerned.  It's packed with all the things that make the Fever series compelling - humor, adventure, Barrons's mystery, hope, love - while adding its own spice to the mix.

The Basics
Moning, Karen Marie. Shadowfever. New York: Delacorte P., 2011. Print.

Shadowfever follows Mac as she finally conquers the Sinsar Dubh - the evil, sentient book created by the Unseelie King.  The book has been the recurring "villain" of the series, making it fitting that Mac finally, somewhat reaches a resolution with it.  However, throughout much of Moning's writing very little can be confined within terms of black and white, so don't be surprised when the conclusion fails to do so as well.  Ultimately, Shadowfever proved to be a highly engaging and satisfying read.

The Book
Self-deception is definitely the name of the game for Mac. And, in case you missed it in the rest of the series, Moning slaps you in the face with this theme on the very first page of chapter 1 when Mac admits "all I've succeeded in doing is swapping one set of delusions for a more elaborate, attractive set of delusions - that's me, the Queen of Self-Deception" (5).  But not to fear, Mac's moment of clarity and self-assessment is entirely too short-lived.  After all, the heroine can hardly conquer her fatal flaw on the first page; that's finale sort of stuff.  But Mac does take the first step on the road to victory - admitting she has a problem.  Case in point, after going what can only be described as bat-s*#t insane with loss after the events of Dreamfever, Mac decides that she's going to remake the entire world with the power of the Sinsar Dubh (that's She-suh doo to you, bub).  But this is nothing more than the ultimate in self-deception, since all she wants to do is create yet another massive illusion for herself.  As is fitting, before the end of the novel, Mac must overcome her flaw repeatedly.

One thing (of many) that I wasn't really expecting is the clear connection of the Fever books to Moning's previous Highlander series.  This is a fairly minor, but interesting, connecting thread; several of the Mackeltar, minor but integral characters in the Fever series, are also former main characters from the Highlander series.  I haven't read the other set of novels, but I know enough about them to recognize the connection. This pleases me in a nerdy joy sort of way, like catching obscure comic book references in the latest Marvel movie.

I'm afraid this post is doomed to be a bit shorter than normal.  My favorite aspect of Shadowfever is the delightful number of twists and turns in the plot.  Many of these are completely unexpected, even to a careful and meticulous reader, but once you see them, you can trace back all the hints and foreshadowings that Moning had planted earlier in the series.  As much as I wish I could provide you with an example, I cannot without ruining the book for someone who has never read it. Each plot twist is completely essential to the movement of the novel, right down to the twist at the finale.  All I'll say is that the book makes it impossible to lose interest and will keep you on your mental toes.

The ending has a bit of dues ex machina device going on, the solution to their problem swooping down with one of those aforementioned plot twists.   However, I'm not sure that's a bad thing.  Despite the suddenness of the event, it fits rather well within the course of the novel, rather than undermining the momentum or the characters.  Nor does this particular solution solve all the problems at hand; instead, it partially solves one issue.  The rest is left up to the characters to deal with, nicely setting up a premise for the series to continue on.  Given the extraordinary and supernatural nature of these books to begin with, the solution's unexpected nature really seems to suit. Besides, there were some hints about the end throughout the book, even if you can only see them in hindsight.  I found the ending satisfying rather than disappointing, so I don't think that the use of the device is really a point of critique.

  • For some nifty photos of Ireland and Dublin meant to provide readers with a pictorial of Mac's world, see this page on Moning website.
  • Moning's website advertises that she supports the Wolf Run charity.  It's a really interesting animal refuge.  See her take on it here and visit the Wolf Run website while you're at it!
  • And now for something completely frivolous, here is a Mac vs. the Shades game.  Have fun.


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