Wednesday, October 19, 2011

More from the Land of Faerie

The fourth installment of Karen Marie Moning's Fever Series, Dreamfever, sees our heroine finally begin to rise up from the dark, moving on to some more triumphant moments (though its still not all peaches and cream).  I have to say that blogging about a series is quite challenging; I was pretty gung ho when I started, since I love series. However, it's difficult to continue finding new topics or fresh ways to discuss old themes. I imagine its a smaller scale version of some of the challenges an author faces when writing an actual series, a challenge, I am pleased to say, that Moning continues to live up to.

The Basics
Moning, Karen Marie. Dreamfever. New York: Delacorte P., 2009. Print.

Dreamfever opens with Mac making a slow recovery from what was done to her in the previous novel, Faefever, helped along by our favorite enigma, Barrons.  The walls between Faerie and the human world have come crashing down after Halloween. The book follows Mac as she tries to organize and fight her foes, introducing Dani, a character from the previous books, as a more involved character and a sort of sidekick/ kid sister for Mac.

The Book
Speaking of Dani, she has quickly become one of my favorite characters, going from a not-so-developed side character in the earlier books to a more active figure in Dreamfever.  From the moment she takes over the first person narration of the book (briefly and during one of Mac's less than lucid moments), readers have a good idea of her spunky, brooding nature. It helps that the know-it-all, moody thirteen-year-old occupies a liminal space in life, with which many female readers will be familiar and can identify (and I'm sure my parents could recognize it as well. Heh heh).  Dani is both worldly, having the life experience to back up some of her bad attitude, and youthful, lacking the self-possessed maturity that only growing up can give you.  Aside from being an entertaining and engaging character, Dani serves a couple purposes for Moning's writing.  Firstly, it sets up Dani as an excellent lead for Moning's next set of Fever books. Secondly and most importantly to this particular series, Dani's sisterly relationship with Mac nicely mirrors Mac's relationship with her deceased sister Alina.  We are told in the earlier books that Mac looked up to her sister, a situation that is now reversed by Mac looking out for Dani and Dani's admiration of Mac.  This weaves a subtle signal throughout Dreamfever that indicates to readers Mac's new, stronger position and growth as a character.

In order to grow and continue, however, Mac must first recover from what was done to her.  This is a touchy part of the book, since after her return to awareness, Mac practically ignores what she suffered, only occasionally thinking about it with a tinge of horror.  I could see how this could be quite controversial, and some might suggest Moning sweeps the terrible violation Mac endured under the rug.  And yet, while I am by no means comfortable with the events in question, I think sometimes a great book should make you squirm. Furthermore, Moning's handling of the situation is in perfect keeping with Mac's character and her ostrich-like tendency of denial - her fatal flaw.

Barrons and Mac's relationship continues to be a delightful clashing and simultaneous attraction of wills. He helps Mac recover but immediately reverts to the distant and immutable character once she has.  Meanwhile, Mac continues to resent him, avoiding him for much of the book.  While this period apart is essential to the development of Mac's character, allowing her to grow a little on her own and test herself without Barrons to act as buffer and safety net. Only after she strikes out on her own for a while is Mac finally able to admit that there is more strength to be found in partnership with other characters.

Despite her acceptance of Barrons as an acceptable aid towards the end of the novel, he still remains shrouded in mystery. Only the tiniest of clues are revealed, never enough to solve him but always enough to keep us wanting to know more.  Nevertheless, I am convinced that Moning has finally provided us with some tangible evidence about Barrons essential nature in the last few chapters of Dreamfever.  The beast that comes to Mac's aid is surly and aggressive yet possessive and protective of Mac.  This interaction coupled with the references to Barrons's animal nature that have pervaded the series has me convince that Barrons and the beast are one and the same. Mac's horror at the end of Dreamfever only confirms this for me, since Barrons is the only character I can see her expressing such strong emotions for aside from Dani (who is clearly not involved here). But, due to a monstrously eeeevil cliffhanger, I will have to wait for Shadowfever before I find out if I'm right.  It makes me grateful that this part of the Fever series has already reached its conclusion with the fifth and final novel.

Now, since this is also a blog about food, I think I must address a recurring theme in the series: the cannibalization of Unseelie.  First and foremost, I must say blegh, blarg, and mumph. But let me explain.  Eating the foully evil Unseelie imbues the character with remarkable healing abilities and superhuman strength, stamina, and etc.  Great, right?  The Unseelie are all jerks and bad guys anyway, so who cares? Let's just say it's a rare book that I can't eat while reading, but I routinely have to stop when I encounter parts describing the imbibing of Unseelie.  Unseelie flesh is always living, even when removed from the body of its original owner, so it goes down . . . wriggling and trying to escape.  As if that weren't already enough for my overactive imagination, Mac informs me that Unseelie flesh is also primarily made up of chewy gristle, popping cartilage, and scads of bursting pustules.  Mmmmmm . . . tasty! But, Moning takes her delight in this theme a step further (clearly writing these books was getting to her) by appending a set of recipes to the back of Dreamfever.  These feature instructions for Irish soda bread; traditional Irish stew; buttermilk/strawberry scones; tea, aka finger, sandwiches; and Shepherd's pie.  All of which call for Unseelie flesh.  Needless to say I'm planning to feature the results of that Irish soda bread recipe as my next blog post.  Aren't you excited? (I can tell by your barely suppressed gags that you are. *nods head*).

  • For a synopsis of and excerpt from Dreamfever, see the book's webpage. I also recommend following the links on the sidebar to the previous books and to any deleted scenes offered.
  • Because every good fantasy realm need its own conference, I direct you towards Fevercon. (Frankly, though, the idea makes me giggle, but who am I to judge.) 


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