CRY WOLF by Charlie Adhara

Agent Cooper Dayton never thought anything could be harder than solving murders. Until he had to plan a wedding.

After taking down an old adversary, Agent Cooper Dayton of the Bureau of Special Investigations has earned a break. Not that planning a wedding to his sexy shifter partner, Oliver Park, is necessarily stress free, but it’s better than worrying about the ominous warning, delivered months ago, that Cooper’s life is in danger.

When he’s dragged to an event by his family, Cooper braces for an awkward evening, but instead finds himself in the middle of an ugly feud between Park’s ex and a rebel pack leader. What was supposed to be a quick outing turns into a full-blown murder investigation after the pack leader ends up dead, Park’s ex goes missing, and Cooper and Park are sent a series of disturbing wedding gifts that are somehow connected to it all.

The list of potential suspects is long, and with the bodies piling up, Cooper must turn to the one person he trusts the least: the villain he’s already put behind bars once and who has nothing to lose by lying and everything to gain if Cooper is out of the picture—for good. 


Title : Cry Wolf
Author : Charlie Adhara
Series : Big Bad Wolf (book five)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 269
Genre : LGBTQIAP+ paranormal romance
Publisher : Carina Press
Release Date : January 18, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

So when I read initially this “finale”, I was so confused because it was an end but it wasn’t the end, you know? Which made reading it now, knowing there’s a spinoff, and knowing why it is shifting POVs, far more satisfying — not that I wasn’t initially happy with how this went! But it just lands better, knowing there’s more to come.. and what that might look like.

Is everyone you’ve ever dated an asshole?
Maybe I have a type.

Also, I think I maybe understood things a little better. I have a tendency to inhale books, read them compulsively quickly, and maybe I did that when I finally got my grubby mitts on this book the first time around. Because things have settled in my brain a little more and I like where we might yet see things go, particularly in a certain Moon-like direction.

You know, it’s never too late to call off this engagement. You’re a catch, you’ll find someone.
I was cursed by an old witch to find him charming.
That’s some dark magic.

Obviously there isn’t much I can say, even for a non-ending end like this book, but this had all the fun and swoons and feels and investigative hijinks as the previous books but in this case, specifically, the stakes are a little higher. But there wasn’t any need for artificial tension of drama because what drives those stakes, at least from Cooper’s POV (which is all we have), is.. meaningless. Or hard to grasp. Somewhere in there. Which makes it all kind of funny actually. And not at all typical for the genre. Again.

Also, [Eli] said to tell you you’ve been demoted to fourth rank.
We don’t do ranks. We’re not pirates. Fourth?
[The cat] took third already.

As mentioned before, Adhara really likes to mess around with expectations within paranormal/urban fantasy reads and I enjoy that immensely. But I also love that in a genre so highly saturated, this really does stand out. Because of the world, sure, but the characters. Even beyond Cooper and Park, there’s Eli, the other bureau agents, Cooper’s family, the cat (Boogie is best!), and more. 

Why did you reveal yourself to us in the first place?
Yes, I can see now that was my mistake. To be brutally honest with you, I thought Cooper had recognized me. But I’m beginning to understand this whole glaring, staring, nostril-flaring thing is less ‘I know that wolf’ and more of a permanent feature of his face.
Well, he’s not wrong.”

I can’t wait to see what new or familiar (and both) faces we get in the spinoff with Eli to come (out August thirtieth!) and I’m really excited to explore more of his backstory. As much as I love Cooper, and Park, their dynamic, their banter, and everything they’ve endured and earned over the course of their series, I’m excited for a new dose of freshness to this world and to shift (tee hee) into a new POV. 

WOLF IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING by Charlie Adhara

Agent Cooper Dayton and his partner, Oliver Park, are going undercover—at a retreat for couples who need counselling. They do say the best cover story is one that’s close to the truth…

Agent Cooper Dayton is almost relieved to get a phone call from his former boss at the Bureau of Special Investigations. It means a temporary reprieve from tensions created by house hunting with Oliver Park, his partner both in work and in life. Living together in a forever home is exactly what Cooper wants. He’s just not keen on working out the details.

With a former alpha werewolf missing, Cooper and Park are loaned to the BSI to conduct the search at a secluded mountain retreat. The agents will travel to the resort undercover…as a couple in need of counseling.

The resort is picturesque, the grounds are stunning and the staff members are all suspicious as hell.

With a long list of suspects and danger lurking around every cabin, Cooper should be focusing on the case. But he’s always been anxious about the power dynamics in his relationship with Park, and participating in the couples’ activities at the retreat brings it all to the surface. A storm is brewing, though, and Cooper and Park must rush to solve the case before the weather turns. Or before any more guests—or the agents themselves—end up dead.


Title : Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
Author : Charlie Adhara
Series : Big Bad Wolf (book four)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 323
Genre : LGBTQIAP+ paranormal romance
Publisher : Carina Press
Release Date : March 2, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

Oh hey, another review I can cannibalize for my benefit! 

What the hell about him had Park seen and thought, Oh yes, anxiety-ridden loner with a temper sharper than a serpent’s tongue and a deep-seated fear of change whose longest successful relationship is with an equally judgmental cat? Swoon.

Our couple has come so far by the time book four in this paranormal shifter series rolls around. They’ve settled into life together, come to terms with most (all?) of the secrets and tragic backstories, and have successfully navigated a few sticky situations related to being in a werewolf-human relationship. But this relationship is still half Cooper, after all. 

Why does it feel like all our cases send us to the gloomiest places off the map?
High altitudes, high crime rates?
One day, we’ll get assigned to a nice, sunny beach murder. And it will be wonderful.
What nice, normal goals you have.

The excuse for this particular adventure, going undercover at a couple’s counselling retreat for werewolves, was genius. Who doesn’t love the ‘pretend relationship’ trope except it’s even juicier when they are in a relationship and get forced to work through some things. Delicious. But so much of the counselling element of this story, the various topics discussed, the trust, the trauma, it was all done so well. And so smoothly; nothing felt shoehorned in, which is how it could’ve easily gone a) for the sake of drama and angst but also b) to find time around the actual mystery of the story. But no, the balance was there.

Cooper felt oddly exhausted and tender this morning. Was this what talking about feelings for an hour did to a person? What a nightmare.

Also, I liked how Adhara introduced another element for the shifters in such a natural way. It seems to happen in each book, the total opposite of an info dump, and always relevant for the moment, not for a ‘maybe in the future you need to know this’, and it’s so perfect. The worldbuilding is so fabulous and so natural, so subtle. 

What I probably did notice on my first read but don’t seem to have mentioned in my reviews is how Adhara continually subverts some of the expected tropes in these kinds of stories/series. I don’t really want to say how, not only because of spoilers, but because it’s a delight to watch unfold. So keep your eyes peeled. 

Also, this is what I always refer to, in my head, as the hug book. Because there is a hug that just puts so many other intimate scenes to shame. Curious how? Read these books! Really, I’m just throwing out all the reasons, trying to find that one sweet spot, that’ll convince you to do so. Let me know when I nail it.

THROWN TO THE WOLVES by Charlie Adhara

Agent Cooper Dayton is going to meet his boyfriend’s werewolf family. Unarmed. On their turf.

And he’s bringing his cat.

When Agent Cooper Dayton agreed to attend the funeral for Oliver Park’s grandfather, he didn’t know what he was getting into. Turns out, the deceased was the alpha of the most powerful werewolf pack on the eastern seaboard. And his death is highly suspicious. Regardless, Cooper is determined to love and support Park the way Park has been there for him.

But Park left him woefully unprepared for the wolf pack politics and etiquette. Rival packs? A seating order at the dinner table? A mysterious figure named the Shepherd? The worst is that Park didn’t tell his family one key thing about Cooper. Cooper feels two steps behind, and reticent Park is no help.

There are plenty of pack members eager to open up about Park and why Cooper is wrong for him. Their stories make Cooper wonder if he’s holding Park back. But there’s no time to get into it…as lethal tranquilizer darts start to fly, Cooper needs to solve the mystery of the alpha’s death and fight for the man he loves—all before someone else dies.


Title : Thrown to the Wolves
Author : Charlie Adhara
Series : Big Bad Wolf (book three)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 263
Genre : LGBTQIAP+ paranormal romance
Publisher : Carina Press
Release Date : April 1, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

For the first time in this reread I get to take advantage of an unexpected joy : stealing parts of an already-written review from GR and getting to do a little less work for a review. Win!

Thrown to the Wolves is a perfect title for this one because both Cooper, and the reader, are well.. thrown to the wolves. This was the first time we actually got some real shifter action. And I don’t mean that in a pervy way. Up until book three, the shifter element was kind of background noise, even if the protagonists worked for a shifter-friendly/focused organization to police and investigate supernatural peoples and events. But book three throws us right into the politics, the families, and the fur, appropriately enough, goes flying.

I suppose you know why I’ve asked you out here.
Um, to tell me my engagement to your nephew, Mr Darcy, is impossible?

This book, as one expects (hopes?), had the most solid foundation for Ollie and Cooper. And as a result I loved them so much more than I ever have. Cooper is still a bit neurotic and twitchy but his internal voice, his concerns, are so much more.. stable. His observations, everything about him, felt more mature. More grounded. He’s secure in his relationship and that makes him more secure in himself. It was so nice to experience, so nice to see, so of course things fuck it all up. –> this is where I really started to appreciate Cooper the first time around but, as I’ve been saying all throughout this reread, he’s so much easier (for me) to love with hindsight. 

What am I supposed to be doing on this hike? Trying to start a.. a..
Investigation?
Threesome?
Okay. We’re obviously not a couple that should be trying to finish each other’s sentences.

Nonetheless, I loved both the story, the progression of their relationship, and their professional one, too. Cooper makes some big changes as a result of his deeper understanding of the world he now inhabits and I really loved that growth and understanding. On a less serious note, the sprinkling of humour that has been present in this series felt stronger in this one (so many lol moments) and aside from one weird roleplay sexytime (which culminated in a great great moment, not in a dirty way, stop side eyeing me!) I also thought the intimate moments were topnotch. Not just because it was hot but because it felt like an extension of the scene, the moment, the emotion. 

I love you. Really love you. I mean it.
That’s awkward, ’cause I’ve just been joking this whole time.

This book featured so many milestones both in the world and in Cooper and Park’s relationship. And it had the added bonus of breaking down so many barriers which, with the benefit of knowing what’s to come, makes for the perfect transition into the setting for book four.

Also, shoutout to the tiny reference that only Canadians might understand, when one character describes another as the “jewelry store commercial guy”. I died.

While I did add to and jazz this up a bit, additional shoutout to 2019-me for writing an excellently timeless review. I’m a fan.

THE WOLF AT BAY by Charlie Adhara

Going home digs up bad memories, so it’s something Bureau of Special Investigations agent Cooper Dayton tries to avoid. When he’s guilted into a visit, Cooper brings along Oliver Park, his hot new werewolf partner, in the hopes the trip will help clarify their status as a couple…or not.

When Park’s keen shifter nose uncovers a body in the yard and Cooper’s father is the prime suspect, Cooper knows they’re on their own. Familial involvement means no sanctioned investigation. They’ll need to go rogue and solve the mystery quietly or risk seeing Cooper’s dad put behind bars.

The case may be cold, but Park and Cooper’s relationship heats up as they work. And yet if Cooper can’t figure out what’s going on between them outside of the bedroom, he’ll lose someone he… Well, he can’t quite put into words how he feels about Park. He knows one thing for sure: he’s not ready to say goodbye, though with the real killer inching ever closer…he may not have a choice.


Title : The Wolf at Bay
Author : Charlie Adhara
Series : Big Bad Wolf (book two)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 262
Genre : LGBTQIAP+ paranormal romance
Publisher : Carina Press
Release Date : September 24, 2018

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

Once again, I sit here shaking my head a bit. Past me was having such a struggle bus time with Cooper. Current me? J’adore.

Also, this one got me reaaaallly in my feels. Woof.

So book two in this instalment continues the trend of being the least paranormal-paranormal series ever (thus far). While it’s obviously built into the world, but limited to those in the know, it really just is a procedural sprinkled with an extra something-something. And in this case the procedural takes a trip home.

Cooper finds himself bringing Park to visit his family — not as a boyfriend but just as a coworker and partner. But when they discover a body buried on Papa Cooper’s property, well. Suddenly they are the ones under investigation. And it brings all sorts of secrets to light. Whilst simultaneously forcing Cooper to unearth and stare hard at his feelings for Park and what it might mean for their future.

So, yeah, I mentioned feels? There were two big scenes that got me. One was between Cooper and his dad. And the other was between our main men. The hotel scene? Yeah.. you know the one. 

When I think back on this series there are two books that stand out to me : the third and fourth, for two different reasons. The next book is a favourite because it was where, in the past, I had turned the corner and fell absolutely in love with this series. The fourth is because that book is pretty much perfection. So I’m so excited to pick up the third and see whether the reread bumps that one up, too (also, worth noting, I’m pretty sure we meet the star of Adhara’s upcoming spinoff in this third book. So that’s exciting, too!). 

Why I was so stingy or so reluctant to love these back then.. well, yes, again, I know why. Cooper. I’m just so happy it’s not going that way on this second go round. I needed this. 

THE WOLF AT THE DOOR by Charlie Adhara

A former FBI agent is partnered with the enemy in this suspenseful male/male shifter romance from debut author Charlie Adhara

Hunting for big bad wolves was never part of Agent Cooper Dayton’s plan, but a werewolf attack lands him in the carefully guarded Bureau of Special Investigations. A new case comes with a new partner: ruggedly sexy werewolf Oliver Park.

Park is an agent of The Trust, a werewolf oversight organization working to ease escalating tensions with the BSI. But as far as Cooper’s concerned, it’s failing. As they investigate a series of mysterious deaths unlike anything they’ve seen, every bone in Cooper’s body is suspicious of his new partner—even when Park proves himself as competent as he is utterly captivating.

When more people vanish, pressure to solve the case skyrockets. And though he’d resolved to keep things professional, Cooper’s friction with Park soon erupts…into a physical need that can’t be contained or controlled. But with a body count that’s rising by the day, werewolves and humans are in equal danger. If Cooper and Park don’t catch the killer soon, one—or both—of them could be the next to go.


Title : The Wolf at the Door
Author : Charlie Adhara
Series : Big Bad Wolf (book one)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 288
Genre : LGBTQIAP+ paranormal romance
Publisher : Carina Press
Release Date : September 24, 2018

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

I’m so happy to be back in this world I could cry. Also I’m so happy to be reading something that I’m enjoying. Rereads can be risky but I knew (okay, hoped) this would go well. But I’m even happier to be able to say I enjoyed this even more the second time — which, I mean, was kind of a gimme as I only (for some reason!) rated this a three the first go around. And okay fine, I know why. Cooper.

Cooper’s our only POV and he’s a little prickly and is even affectionately referred to as a porcupine. And clearly his prickliness was a factor that worked against his favour on my initial read. Now? Now I just love him to bits. Possibly the benefit of hindsight.. but also possibly not because I know many of my friends did not struggle with him the way I did.

He was starting to wonder if Park bothered to argue with anyone. Not because he seemed like a doormat but because he had been beyond even-tempered all day. An almost annoyingly laid-back, Zen sort of person who didn’t so much as avoid confrontation as he seemed uninterested in it entirely. Bored by it, even. There was something about that kind of self-control that simultaneously drew Cooper and made him want to break it.

But aNyWaYs. What’s this about, you ask? It’s a queer paranormal investigative series. Werewolves are the particular flavour here and they are also.. partially out of the closet. In a way. A select group are aware of their existence and thus have created an offshoot of the FBI to help manage any issues that come up, as well as investigate in cases of supernatural crime or worse. Which is where Cooper comes in. A particular brush with said supernatural had him making the change from FBI to BSI and, when the agency’s reputation starts to sour and their PR takes a hit, Cooper is paired up with Park — a representative of the Trust, which is basically the werewolf equivalent of the BSI as well as the ruling/governing body — to try and ease tensions and promote teamwork and unity. And boy does it ever.. sorta. Eventually. Maybe.

Should’ve known you were a cat person.”
Why, because I don’t like you?”
Because you’re an antisocial asshole.

Investigations, mysteries, and hijinks ensue! Also sPaRKs.

I loved watching these two interact. The hesitancy, the lack of trust, the occasional glimmers of banter and respect, and then how they would have to start all over again when inevitably someone (Cooper) would mess it all up. It was extra fun watching Park be so amused by it all — when he wasn’t nursing a pout or legitimately (and adorably? I don’t know, it was sad but cute) wounded feelings. 

So many things make this series different but one of those biggest differences was how this focused more on the procedural element than the supernatural. I actually loved that. I loved so much. And in fact, I’m going to shut up and just recommend you pick this up. Find out for yourself why there’s so much love for this world and these characters. Do it! I dare you.

DREAMFEVER by Karen Marie Moning

MacKayla Lane lies naked on the cold stone floor of a church, at the mercy of the erotic Fae master she once swore to kill. Far from home, unable to control her sexual hungers, MacKayla is now fully under the Lord Master’s spell.…In New York Timesbestselling author Karen Marie Moning’s stunning new novel, the walls between human and Fae worlds have come crashing down. And as Mac fights for survival on Dublin’s battle-scarred streets, she will embark on the darkest—and most erotically charged—adventure of her life. 

He has stolen her past, but MacKayla will never allow her sister’s murderer to take her future. Yet even the uniquely gifted sidhe-seer is no match for the Lord Master, who has unleashed an insatiable sexual craving that consumes Mac’s every thought—and thrusts her into the seductive realm of two very dangerous men, both of whom she desires but dares not trust. 

As the enigmatic Jericho Barrons and the sensual Fae prince V’lane vie for her body and soul, as cryptic entries from her sister’s diary mysteriously appear and the power of the Dark Book weaves its annihilating path through the city, Mac’s greatest enemy delivers a final challenge.…

It’s an invitation Mac cannot refuse, one that sends her racing home to Georgia, where an even darker threat awaits. With her parents missing and the lives of her loved ones under siege, Mac is about to come face-to-face with a soul-shattering truth—about herself and her sister, about Jericho Barrons…and about the world she thought she knew. 


Title : Dreamfever
Author : Karen Marie Moning
Series : Fever (book four)
Format : paperback
Page Count : 498
Genre : urban fantasy
Publisher : Dell
Release Date : August 25, 2009

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

I mean.. in a lot of ways we know what that horrible cliffhanger reveals but still that one hurts. Worse than the last one! 

Overall, I think I expected to love this instalment more than I did. It has a lot of good juicy excellent bits, both character and plot wise, but I felt it to be strangely rushed along. Some moments got some of their due but others..? Others I think needed a lot more. 

What has been consistent, though, as I’ve said in probably all these reread reviews, is the presence of the usual side-eye towards Mac’s inner voice. We get less of that this time considering what she’s just survived and how she’s pretty much fully Mac 4.0 (whatever that means beyond wearing leather and caring less about pink, also, did we skip 3.0?) now. And honestly you sort’ve just have to lean into it or step around it, whatever works best. But the other consistency? The other consistency is for the times where there are these lovely passages full of wisdom, truth, grief, and hope. And they usually pop out when you least expect them. 

Also, as I was reading, I was picking up on foreshadowing for something (well, a few somethings!) I had completely forgotten about. As I said to my buddy reader, it’s so funny what the mind chooses to remember and otherwise completely deletes from the brain. Hoo boy. 

The author’s note at the end of this book, fourth in the Fever series, goes on to say how book five is the end of the journey. But we know that’s not true. It is, however, where I do recall the story started to shift.. and maybe go downhill?

I had such a good time chatting about this one with my buddy (shoutout to Hayley!) and we’re both really chomping at the bit to pick up where this left off and see what reveals await us (remembered and not) in the “final” of Mac’s story arc.



FAEFEVER by Karen Marie Moning

He calls me his Queen of the Night. I’d die for him. I’d kill for him, too. 

When MacKayla Lane receives a torn page from her dead sister’s journal, she is stunned by Alina’s desperate words. And now MacKayla knows that her sister’s killer is close. But evil is closer. And suddenly the sidhe-seer is on the hunt: For answers. For revenge. And for an ancient book of dark magic so evil, it corrupts anyone who touches it.

Mac’s quest for the Sinsar Dubh takes her into the mean, shape-shifting streets of Dublin, with a suspicious cop on her tail. Forced into a dangerous triangle of alliance with V’lane, an insatiable Fae prince of lethally erotic tastes, and Jericho Barrons, a man of primal desires and untold secrets, Mac is soon locked in a battle for her body, mind, and soul. 

As All Hallows’ Eve approaches and the city descends into chaos, as a shocking truth about the Dark Book is uncovered, not even Mac can prevent a deadly race of immortals from shattering the walls between worlds—with devastating consequences.…


Title : Faefever
Author : Karen Marie Moning
Series : Fever (book three)
Format : paperback
Page Count : 393
Genre : urban fantasy
Publisher : Delacorte Press
Release Date : September 16, 2008

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

I can’t tell if this actually deserves to be rounded up or if, after a bit of a reading dry spell, I’m just excited to have finished something — and in one sitting no less. <– oh hey, deja vue, this was the same situation I was in for book two! Though I think I’m in (or was in..) an actual slump this time. It’s rough out here.

It bears repeating that : I think we all know the deal with this series. It is definitely a product of it’s time. But we are already seeings signs of where Moning pushed her characters, and the series, away from their awkward beginnings.

Having said (again) that, this particular instalment slows things all way down. While book two was nonstop action, we had very little action in the third. It really decided to embody the term “slow burn”. And then of course leaves us on that cliffhanger (if you are familiar with the series but, like me, struggle to piece together which came when, here’s a hint : the cover). Once again, I found myself unprepared for how early this particular event happened. It really just was a blur that first time around, huh?

But. This particular event is (if my memory is to be trusted which, spoiler, it is not) does kick off a certain relationship in a certain direction. Otherwise though yeah that final chapter changes everything for everyone in this series. Though it doesn’t change the fact though that this was one big (slow) build to that finale; so it does feel a bit like a transitional/lead-up instalment. Which isn’t a bad thing because I feel like the next one does not pull punches so maybe we needed this calm before the storm.

Either way, I’m excited to dissect this one with my buddy reader (we already cackled about the MacHalo and I mean.. if you know you know) and, more broadly, I’m hoping this read can wiggle me out of the slump.

BLOODFEVER by Karen Marie Moning

I used to be your average, everyday girl but all that changed one night in Dublin when I saw my first Fae, and got dragged into a world of deadly immortals and ancient secrets…

In her fight to stay alive, MacKayla must find the Sinsar Dubh—a million-year-old book of the blackest magic imaginable, which holds the key to power over the worlds of both the Fae and Man. Pursued by assassins, surrounded by mysterious figures she knows she can’t trust, Mac finds herself torn between two deadly and powerful men: V’lane, the immortal Fae Prince, and Jericho Barrons, a man as irresistible as he is dangerous.

For centuries the shadowy realm of the Fae has coexisted with that of humans. Now the walls between the two are coming down, and Mac is the only thing that stands between them.


Title : Bloodfever
Author : Karen Marie Moning
Series : Fever (book two)
Format : paperback
Page Count : 349
Genre : urban fantasy
Publisher : Delacorte Press
Release Date : October 16, 2007

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

I can’t tell if this actually deserves to be rounded up or if, after a bit of a reading dry spell, I’m just excited to have finished something — and in one sitting no less.

Listen, I think we all know the deal with this series. It is definitely a product of it’s time. But we are already seeings signs of where Moning pushed her characters, and the series, away from their awkward beginnings.

While Mac is definitely a little too keen and bloodthirsty, not to mention fearlessly scrappy, for this stage of things, I’m willing to give her a bit of a pass. She’s already growing up a bit, dropping the eyerolling fake-swears, starting to find herself in amongst who she used to be and who Barrons was forcing her to act like in the beginning, and I respect that. I also really like how the momentum continued from where we left off with book one. Also, the cast is starting to grow (I forgot we met Dani this early, holy shit! not to mention MacKeltar.. even if I have only the vaguest recollection of the role he plays later on..) and we’re starting to get more on the ever mysterious Barrons and who (what?) he really is.

There was almost nonstop action but the pauses we did have were really.. good pauses. I especially loved the little illusionary experience Mac had in Faery because that was cathartic and also really lovely. In fact, amongst some of the ridiculous (like, seriously, some of the “I’m so pretty” behaviour and constant barrage of attractive people or Mac being recognized as attractive is a bit.. much, but we still haven’t fully left the Shallow Era of things, I guess) there were quite a few stunning lines. Whether it was Barrons dropping some wise truthbomb in the middle of a lecture or a temporary fugue of grief or reflection.. they kind of sneak up on you but they are very appreciated.

I’m sorta sad I can’t binge this (my buddy and I are doing one a month) but at the same time maybe I’ll enjoy the ride a little more by having to wait between each bit. Definitely keen to read on.

DARKFEVER by Karen Marie Moning

“My name is MacKayla, Mac for short. I’m a sidhe-seer, one who sees the Fae, a fact I accepted only recently and very reluctantly.

My philosophy is pretty simple – any day nobody’s trying to kill me is a good day in my book. I haven’t had many good days lately. Not since the walls between Man and Fae came down. But then, there’s not a sidhe-seer alive who’s had a good day since then.”


When MacKayla’s sister was murdered, she left a single clue to her death, a cryptic message on Mac’s cell phone. Journeying to Ireland in search of answers, Mac is soon faced with an even greater challenge: staying alive long enough to master a power she had no idea she possessed – a gift that allows her to see beyond the world of man, into the dangerous realm of the Fae.

As Mac delves deeper into the mystery of her sister’s death, her every move is shadowed by the dark, mysterious Jericho…while at the same time, the ruthless V’lane – an alpha Fae who makes sex an addiction for human women – closes in on her. As the boundary between worlds begins to crumble, Mac’s true mission becomes clear: to find the elusive Sinsar Dubh before someone else claims the all-powerful Dark Book – because whoever gets to it first holds nothing less than complete control both worlds in their hands. 


Title : Darkfever
Author : Karen Marie Moning
Series : Fever (book one)
Format : paperback
Page Count : 342
Genre : urban fantasy
Publisher : Delacorte Press
Release Date : October 31, 2006

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 2 star review

So, this is a two star I’m not really mad (or surprised!) about. Even when I first read this series, back in (checks notes) 2015, it was only about a three for me. It hadn’t really aged all that well back then and it certainly hasn’t improved in the intervening years. But I think once you move past that (the dated references, the preoccupation with outfits, the occasional dodgy bit, the stereotypes, some of the general cringe.. you know, the usual early aughts PNR/UF issues), it’s still possible to see what Moning was building towards.

This series quickly escalated into a crack-like obsession for me and I remember devouring the first seven (the only ones out at the time) of these books in like five days or something insane. I know there’s a lot of problematic stuff to come but, upon chatting with a buddy, I was (we were) still really keen to see if I (we) would love these books — flaws and all — the same way on a reread; well, it’ll be mostly a reread, I haven’t read the two final books. So that’s what we’re doing! One a month for the rest of the year. So, yes, expect these reviews to keep popping up in your feed, sorry not sorry?

But as for Darkfever itself.. what’s there to say? You’ve either read these books or avoided them. The series kicks off with Mac, a simple southern belle from Georgia, relocating to Ireland upon learning of the murder of her older sister and, eventually, uncovering that there’s a lot more to her world than she ever knew; and also more to herself. In following some of the clues Alina has left her, she stumbles into danger, denial, and darkness. She meets Barrons, who might be a friend but also just as likely to be a foe, who begins to guide her through the world of the Fae, and yet also needs her help to track down the very thing her sister warned her must be found.

Again, as mentioned, this is a very 2006 kind of read. You’ll trip over all the references, you’ll glaze over when Mac once more describes her outfits in detail, you’ll sympathize with Barrons over her preoccupation with pink, you’ll quickly end up drunk playing the “take a shot every time she says ‘bosom’ game”, and don’t even get me started on her southern alternatives for swearwords, but.. at the same time, Mac is uniquely herself. And she is forced to undertake many changes, both to fit in to her new world and survive, and yet she still remains unapologetically herself. She’s a mix of a very simple almost-shallow (but never quite fully crossing that line, I don’t think) person and yet not without some layers and strength. It’s possible Moning leaned into the former to make that transition from Before and After more stark but, I mean, yeah it’s a little annoying and she is a little all over the place. The same could be said for Barrons, though. No one is quite all-around likeable in this series opener because there are too many unknowns, too many actual secrets, and everyone is just settling into themselves.

It’s definitely a book that will either send you in the opposite direction or hook you juuust enough to push on. This two star doesn’t scare me off at all, really. I think, for anyone who loves this world, any reread would inspire a whole lot of “yeah, not great. B U T”, and I have that same vibe. I think this series could still work for me the same way it once did. And I’m excited to find out if that holds true.

CHILD OF THE PROPHECY by Juliet Marillier – double review!

Magic is fading… and the ways of Man are driving the Old Ones to the West, beyond the ken of humankind. The ancient groves are being destroyed, and if nothing is done, Ireland will lose its essential mystic core. 

The prophecies of long ago have foretold a way to prevent this horror, and it is the Sevenwaters clan that the Spirits of Eire look to for salvation. They are a family bound into the lifeblood of the land, and their promise to preserve the magic has been the cause of great joy to them… as well as great sorrow.

It is up to Fainne, daughter of Niamh, the lost sister of Sevenwaters, to solve the riddles of power. She is the shy child of a reclusive sorcerer, and her way is hard, for her father is the son of the wicked sorceress Oonagh, who has emerged from the shadows and seeks to destroy all that Sevenwaters has striven for. Oonagh will use her granddaughter Fainne most cruelly to accomplish her ends, and stops at nothing to see her will done.

Will Fainne be strong enough to battle this evil and save those she has come to love?


Title : Child of the Prophecy
Author : Juliet Marillier
Series : Sevenwaters (book three)
Format : physical
Page Count : 596
Genre : fantasy / historical fiction / retellings
Publisher : TorBooks
Release Date : March 20, 2002

Reviewer : Hollis / Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5 / ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 4.5 star review

Well, we did it. The original trilogy complete. What a ride.

I cannot be part of this. The forest, the family, the — the brotherhood. You must realize that.”

What makes Child of the Prophecy so interesting, but also easily unlikeable, is the shift. After two books featuring brilliant, self-sacrificing, and purely good, heroines, we are faced with something different in Fainne. She’s not the hero. She’s not purely good. She is, simply, an antagonist. A reluctant one but nonetheless it’s true. She is brilliant, she is powerful, she shares her mother’s temperament (making her difficult), and she’s making choices that don’t have good results. Because she’s fighting for those she loves.. even at the cost of others. This disconnect, this unfortunate situation, is made worse because of her otherness. We, as a reader, have a connection to the Sevenwaters clan, the history, the losses and triumphs they have endured. But Fainne is outside of that while at the same time able to trace her own losses back to the choices (well meaning though they were) of those characters we love. We know their struggle, their guilt, and their enduring love. But Fainne doesn’t. And even worse, her otherness, her disconnect, is compounded by her own gifts and her parentage (doubly so); neither of which are acceptable.

Perhaps my own spirit was damaged, my heart cracked into pieces, so that I could never be fine and good.

It makes her journey difficult in so many ways.

You have the power to make us or break us, I think, and it will not be until the last that you will choose which way to go.”

And honestly I totally understand why my buddy readers had a hard time connecting with this story and the lead. I’m sure, a hundred years ago when I first read this, I had the same issue. It’s always been my least favourite of the trilogy, though still undoubtedly a Marillier and thus excellent (previously rated a four to the otherwise outstanding fives), but now, in hindsight, I can respect and appreciate this a little more — the experience of reading it was also, likely, helped by the benefit of hindsight and knowing where the story would end up. Every character’s journey in this saga has had pitfalls and struggles; Fainne’s are just different and, unfortunately, come with collateral damage. 

The days where the children of Sevenwaters could roam the forest freely, without fear, are gone.

Then again, I’m so biased it’s beyond comprehension, so there’s that.

What likely also chips away some of the lustre with this final (ish) instalment is the lower romance content. Or, rather, the fact that we don’t get enough time seeing it to really believe in it, maybe. But I think this ties into the fact that, considering the ending, their story isn’t really for us. They are part of the whole but set apart from it. For reasons. Either way, though, I can admit it’s the weakest part of the story but there were still moments I found lovely and moving.

There will come a time, soon enough, when even that ancient wood will fall to the axe, to grant man his grazing land, his settlements, his towers and his walls. He thinks, in his ignorance, to tame the very earth, to force the very ocean to his will. And so he will lay waste the body of the mother who gave him birth; and will not know what he does. The old ways will be forgotten.”

Equally this might be the least emotionally devastating of the stories. I definitely cried for a few reasons during the big conflict during the end but there were only one or two brief moments during the telling that actually got me choked up. Fainne’s disconnect makes this less of an emotional journey and considering the books that came before that, too, is a change.

But.

This is my favourite series for so many reasons; for the emotions, the folklore, the magic, the heartbreak, the challenges, the strength, the wisdom, the losses, and the whole of it. These three books make up a generational story that, in my mind, is truly untouchable. But, again, biased.

The companions that follow the main Sevenwaters trilogy are the ones I don’t know well at all, having only read them each once upon publication. Though I remember which characters they follow, and have vague memories of the plot, I don’t have any real emotional attachment to them beyond the fact that they exist in this beloved world. I hope, with age and my enduring delight and respect for this saga, and the main trilogy fresh in my mind (though it never truly fades), I come out with some newfound love for them. I can’t wait to read on.

Thank you to the Sevenwaters Squad — Micky, Steph, Amanda, and Cat — for coming on this journey with me. I know it wasn’t always what you expected (in good and bad ways) but I had a great time nonetheless.


Micky’s 3.5 star review

Headlines:
Pesky protagonist
Oh the sevenwaters family
Magic – dark versus light

Child of the Prophecy did not live up to my expectations but lets just frame that with how high the bar has been set by books one and two. The biggest difficulty with this story was Fainne, a protagonist that was hard to like. On the one hand, I admire Juliet Marillier for taking the difficult road on this but we’ve been spoilt with the family of Sevenwaters in the previous books and so it was tough to be away from them at first.

The Sevenwaters family do become a big part of this story but Marillier put readers through the mill somewhat. I am saying nothing of the plot but it had me in knots of loyalty, allegiance and despair.

There was a smattering of romance but nothing as deeply affecting or connecting in this installment, I definitely missed that heart yearning love. There were a bunch of fav characters in this read, hello Liadan (I’m looking at you), Bran, Johnny (give the man his own book) and Ciaran.

How Marillier brought a fitting end about, I don’t know but thank goodness, she did. This was a very up and down read but I feel it was left in a suitable place and I hope for even more from book 4. I remain 100% invested in the series.

Thank you sevenwaters squad for the heated debate along the way.

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