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BE THE SERPENT by Seanan McGuire

October Daye is finally something she never expected to be: married. All the trials and turmoils and terrors of a hero’s life have done very little to prepare her for the expectation that she will actually share her life with someone else, the good parts and the bad ones alike, not just allow them to dabble around the edges in the things she wants to share. But with an official break from hero duties from the Queen in the Mists, and her family wholly on board with this new version of “normal,” she’s doing her best to adjust.

It isn’t always easy, but she’s a hero, right? She’s done harder.
Until an old friend and ally turns out to have been an enemy in disguise for this entire time, and October’s brief respite turns into a battle for her life, her community, and everything she has ever believed to be true. 

The debts of the Broken Ride are coming due, and whether she incurred them or not, she’s going to be the one who has to pay.


Title : Be The Serpent
Author : Seanan McGuire
Series : October Daye (book sixteen)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 384
Genre : urban fantasy
Publisher : DAW
Release Date : August 30, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

No, you aren’t hallucinating. This is the highest rating I’ve given a book in this series since book eleven — and before that, the only other three? Book one. Which in hindsight might’ve been an error in “hoping for the best/that things get better”. So, yeah, the bar for this series, which I’ve complained about ad nauseam, is low. But this one, almost start to finish, had elements that kept me interested and unwilling to put the book down.

That isn’t to say it didn’t start off poorly though because we open up with Luna and Sylvester bullshit and to say I am tired of these two characters would be an understatement. What makes me somewhat angry, though, is McGuire gave an exceptional explanation for why the former is now the way she is and.. yeah, I’m mad. Because it makes sense. Why it took so long to get this explanation, I’ll never know. But it doesn’t excuse the latter’s lack of backbone, loyalty, trust, etc etc. October better not have forgiven him that easy, too. I’m offended.

And, honestly, other than that.. other than a few little moments where people gave October shit for things I don’t think she deserved (and trust me, I would mentioned when it was deserved), there were so few blips in this one. Truly, again, I am astonished.

My one real complaint is the constant rehashing of things to various characters as the plot pushed things along because it gets so tired, going over the same things endlessly; whereas certain other characters spent too much time standing around blinking and marvelling over how things don’t make sense (cough Sylvester cough, glad October called him out on this, more please) and, mostly, being useless. But that’s it. Complaint session over.

Oh wait, Tybalt was mostly useless in this one, not going to lie. He’s sort’ve turned into arm candy now that he’s got the girl. Though I suppose when you’re as skilled and surprising as October is.. there isn’t a whole lot to complete with there. Not a complaint so much as an observation.

The big reveal of this instalment, the way it went down, and then the end? Constant shocker. I’m both surprised and not surprised that the most powerful among this crew is also a different kind of useless and, for once, am not mad about October putting them in their place with little regard to niceties. She is all of us in this particular situation. Surprising no one, the sea witch was once again great, no notes, ten out of ten.

I don’t think I’ve ever said this for this series but : I cannot wait for book seventeen. But don’t get me wrong, I’m still hoping the end is in sight because obviously this is not a sustainable read for me (despite evidence to the contrary) and I fully expect the success of this instalment to peter out but hey, low expectations never hurt anyone.

Oh, and ps, the novella at the end of this one? Horrible. In the sense that seeing exactly what the sea witch was cursed with, live in HD4K, was horrible. Brutal. Awful. Lots of Big Bads need to go before the end of this series or there is truly no justice in this world (which is likely the case because faerie).

RUBY FEVER by Ilona Andrews – double review!

#1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews is back with the newest book in the exciting Hidden Legacy series—the thrilling conclusion to her trilogy featuring fierce and beautiful Prime magic user Catalina Baylor.

An escaped spider, the unexpected arrival of an Imperial Russian Prince, the senseless assassination of a powerful figure, a shocking attack on the supposedly invincible Warden of Texas, Catalina’s boss… And it’s only Monday. 

Within hours, the fate of Houston—not to mention the House of Baylor—now rests on Catalina, who will have to harness her powers as never before. But even with her fellow Prime and fiancé Alessandro Sagredo by her side, she may not be able to expose who’s responsible before all hell really breaks loose.


Title : Ruby Fever
Author : Ilona Andrews
Series : Hidden Legacy (book six)
Format : eBook (overdrive) / eBook Edelweiss
Page Count : 320
Genre : paranormal romance / urban fantasy
Publisher : Avon/Harper 360
Release Date : August 23, 2022

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


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

As always, I never envy the task that is required by authors to wrap up a series. Especially one like this that is the continuation of the five books that came before.. and also sets up the (likely, eventually, p l e a s e n o w) books to come. That’s a lot of loose ends and a lot of new, tantalizing, threads to keep track of. And I think overall, IA did a good job. But.. it’s also a lot of stuff.

This book felt overwhelming in a lot of ways but mostly in terms of action sequences and throwbacks to the main trilogy (which, had I been smart, I would’ve reread all books not just Catalina’s, my bad) and sometimes it was just overload. I didn’t find that this had any emotional or feelsy moments, much less any swoons, and I’m really surprised by that.

In a lot of ways this is a very Catalina-centric story; she has the man she loves, they are committed, so there was less focus on them as a couple — barring a few specific interactions — instead it’s Catalina learning more about her powers (so cool!) and also some familial connections and surprises. Which, hey, I will never complain about Baylor Fam page time but I definitely expected to get socked in the feels along the way and there was only one tiny close call and even that didn’t cause a lump in the throat.

All that to say, as a romance? This was a little lacking. Alessandro ends up as a bit player, especially in light of a newcomer character who takes much of the spotlight because he is shiny and new and rather devious. This is much more plot and Big Bad confrontation plus wrap up than anything else. But with a secured love interest, I can see why; and at least they didn’t have any manufactured drama to deal with. Just something to keep in mind.

Despite some of the dynamic shifts from some of the well-earned reveals, which I really enjoyed, I don’t think this’ll go down as my favourite of the series. I think it’s book two, one, and three for me. But this is still solid, written by some of the GOATs, and featuring one of my absolutely favourite fictional families. I’m also so excited by the tease for Arabella’s book(s) and in reading this transcript (huge spoilers, mind you, you’ve been warned) I’m excited about the possibility of it being an self-published release so as to break out of the more restrictive trad-published formula.

But let’s be real I would be excited either way (also, not me losing my mind to see them reference book two of Iron and Magic because yesss, fiiiiiinally, 2018 was so many moons ago..) because even in a review sprinkled through with nitpicks, I have very little ability to remain unbiased in my love for these authors and their worlds. Having that said that, while I did initially round up on this, further thought (as in, I haven’t thought about this since finishing) has me deciding that.. well, this really was the weakest of the lot. Thus the rating should reflect that.


Micky’s 3.5 star review

Headlines:
Grandparent hell
Spider warnings
Slow start

This was an pleasant but perhaps weakish installment in this UF series. I think my investment in this fandom, the sisters and the current couple kept me in the enjoyment sector but this book definitely had a slow start. The second half was a stronger read for me with more action and plot.

I always think with this family that the current couple I’m reading is my favourite, I loved Nevada and Connor, then Catalina and Alessandro came along…but now I find myself looking rather intently at Arabella and the indications we got in this book. Talking of couples, I felt a bit left wanting with Catalina and Alessandro, especially towards the end. Although these two are firmly in coupledom, I think we needed a bit more.

This was a strong plot, the best element being the grandparent storyline. I enjoyed how this part of the story came together. I did want more from the spider however…okay, maybe not.

I don’t know if this is the last Catalina story and Arabella is next but if so, I’m ready.

Thank you to Harper 360 for the eARC.

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.

CRY WOLF by Patricia Briggs

Charles Cornick is his pack’s enforcer and lives a harsh life, doing jobs other wolves can’t – or won’t. And his most recent task was rescuing Anna Latham from a life of brutality. This leaves him shot and wounded, but he’s happy to pay the price. Charles is strongly drawn to Anna, and her growing ‘Omega’ powers will see his people through dangerous times.

Anna desperately needs her new mountainous home to be safer than the life she’s left behind. But when a rogue werewolf starts murdering hikers, Charles and Anna are sent into the winter forests to investigate. Charles is still weak and will need Anna’s strength as they discover a web of witchcraft that could drag down the whole pack. Including its leader Bran, Charles’s father, head of a vast network of wolves. And if Bran weakens, dark madness could run like a fever through half a continent.


Title : Cry Wolf
Author : Patricia Briggs
Series : Alpha and Omega #1
Format : Physical
Page Count : 321
Genre : Fantasy/PNR
Publisher : Orbit Books
Release Date : December 3, 2009

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Briggs on the UF/PNR forever
New couple, new obsession
Omega reveals

**PSA: read the prequel novella first (it was fantastic) which is 0.5 in this series and is called the same as the series title Alpha and Omega.**

Having met and loved Charles and Anna in the prequel novella to this series, I knew I’d enjoy this first full story offering, and I did. It comes with an extra appreciation if you’ve read the Mercy Thompson series because you get the Marrok’s pack and familiar side characters.

The tentative stepping around one another that Charles and Anna made as they got to know one another was my favourite part of this book. They connected so well but it was all very new and about getting to know one another. I look forward to the deeper connection that is sure to come in later books. The plot was strong in this book and the omega element continues to be interesting.

I got the answer to a question that has been on my mind for most of the Mercy Thompson series. Why the hell is Bran mated/married to Leah. I am now in the know and feel so much better to finally have that answered.

Patricia Briggs is my favourite discovery of the 2021/2022 (thanks to Hariette) and I hope her books will last the year as I make my way through both these connected series. Late to the party but here all the same.

BOOK OF NIGHT by Holly Black – double review!

In Charlie Hall’s world, shadows can be altered, for entertainment and cosmetic preferences—but also to increase power and influence. You can alter someone’s feelings—and memories—but manipulating shadows has a cost, with the potential to take hours or days from your life. Your shadow holds all the parts of you that you want to keep hidden—a second self, standing just to your left, walking behind you into lit rooms. And sometimes, it has a life of its own.

Charlie is a low-level con artist, working as a bartender while trying to distance herself from the powerful and dangerous underground world of shadow trading. She gets by doing odd jobs for her patrons and the naive new money in her town at the edge of the Berkshires. But when a terrible figure from her past returns, Charlie’s present life is thrown into chaos, and her future seems at best, unclear—and at worst, non-existent. Determined to survive, Charlie throws herself into a maelstrom of secrets and murder, setting her against a cast of doppelgangers, mercurial billionaires, shadow thieves, and her own sister—all desperate to control the magic of the shadows.

With sharp angles and prose, and a sinister bent, Holly Black is a master of shadow and story stitching. Remember while you read, light isn’t playing tricks in Book of Night, the people are.


Title : Book of Night
Author : Holly Black
Format : eARC
Page Count : 320
Genre : urban fantasy / paranormal
Publisher : Tor Books / DelReyUK
Release Date : May 3, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis / Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ / ★ ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

I think even the mightiest of Black stans might lose it over that ending, hoo boy. I loved it but I also kinda hated it.

So here’s the thing. If this is a standalone, I’m a lot less happy than a three star. Okay, fine, maybe it’s just docked half a point. But if this is a series opener.. yeah, maybe I could bump it a half point. As it is, there’s a lot of good in this adult debut from this beloved author but there’s also an equal amount of stuff I could’ve lived without.

I do think most people will come out of this book loving our MC, Charlie. She is unflinchingly herself and herself is messy. She’s a twenty-eight year old ex-con artist and thief who is painfully aware of her baggage cart full of faults, failed relationships, and rather questionable childhood. She’s trying to turn a new leaf, one that is away from the sketchier aspects of her skillset and focus on being somewhat of a law abiding citizen as well as guide her sister towards school and a future (a bit I never quite understood considering her sister’s age and lack of interest and also, side note, did anyone else assume her sister was like sixteen? she did not act her age). Having a boyfriend who, for once, is not a scumbag, though maybe a little weird, helps, too.

In this world, which I’ll admit I still find somewhat hard to grasp, there are people who can work magic through shadows. That’s basically the simplest way to describe it. And while that’s a main event in this world, the story itself focuses more on both mystery and heist and the overlords who rule the underworld. Does that sound dramatic? It kind of is.

While Charlie’s world was dark and violent and gritty, the details didn’t always interest me. Much like how I was invested in about half the characters and the rest could go hang. There was a sweet spot that kept me invested but on the whole there were parts that left much to be desired. Which, again, if this is a series.. I could see myself being swayed if we got more depth or detail. If not, well. It’ll be halfway memorable.

I would absolutely read on and I so hope we continue to get more adult releases from our favourites in the YA genre, particularly when they go dark side. This didn’t quite ease the sting of the long wait for the next Alex Stern novel but I’m not mad at it for distracting me for a few hours, either. You’ll either pick this one up or you won’t and I doubt this review will sway you otherwise. Having said that, I can’t wait to see more reviews and how this works (or doesn’t) for other readers.

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Morally dark-grey goodness
Darkness and shady shadows
Corruption

I loved so much about this fantasy offering from Holly Black. There was an absolutely fantastic female MC in Charlie Hall. She was shady, she didn’t give a s***, she took risks like it was a daily snack but she had a big heart for the few she loved. Her childhood was a complete mess of exploitation of her supposed magical abilities and she wasn’t protected as she should have been. Thus was the adult Charlie as a result.

The story brought a couple I really wanted to cheer for, or did it, maybe, I hope. Vince was difficult to fathom but I got a sense of true connection and love, even if it lacked verbal expression. The plot around Vince was deep and led into some places you wanted it not to but truly, it was incredibly clever and delicious to read.

The other characters of the piece outside the sister Posey, were honestly a nasty bunch. None more than Salt, he was heinous but I also loved to hate Adeline. You’ve got to pay attention to this plot, it definitely became exponentially more complex and the use of past/present was both helpful while being a little pacey at times. That ending 100% worked for me, knowing this is going to be a series; I love a messy ending on those terms.

Black has announced her entrance into adult fantasy with a slickness of characterisation and a wholly adult feel to the piece. I am a fan and ball of anticipation for the next book.

Thank you to Delrey UK for the gorgeous proof to review early.

SILENCE FALLEN by Patricia Briggs

Mercy Thompson has found her voice in the werewolf pack. But when Mercy’s bond with the pack—and her mate—is broken, she’ll learn what it truly means to be alone…
 
Attacked and abducted in her home territory, Mercy finds herself in the clutches of the most powerful vampire in the world, taken as a weapon to use against alpha werewolf Adam and the ruler of the Tri-Cities vampires. In coyote form, Mercy escapes—only to find herself without money, without clothing, and alone in the heart of Europe…
 
Unable to contact Adam and the rest of the pack, Mercy has allies to find and enemies to fight, and she needs to figure out which is which. Ancient powers stir, and Mercy must be her agile best to avoid causing a war between vampires and werewolves, and between werewolves and werewolves. And in the heart of the ancient city of Prague, old ghosts rise…


Title : Silence Fallen
Author : Patricia Briggs
Series : Mercy Thompson #10
Format : ebook
Page Count : 379
Genre : Urban Fantasy
Publisher : Ace Books
Release Date : March 17, 2017

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★.5


Micky’s 4.5 star review

Headlines:
The separation
The longing
Sneaky, clever Mercy

loved this installment, one of my favourites of the series which is odd because I don’t always like it when a couple is separated throughout the story. This one worked so very well. It opened straight into the action and the story got me completely on board, worried about Mercy, thinking how Adam would cope.

Vampires were the focus in the main for book 10 (10…how did I get here? This is how amazing this series is). Bad vampires were prevalent rather than some of the friendlies we’ve got to know in the series. There was a lot of mental strategy in this story which felt less reactive than some of the action storylines we’ve previously experienced. I enjoyed the European backdrop for the story rather than the normal Tri-Cities context, it made for a fresh feel.

The chapters were told in alternate Adam-Mercy style and Briggs did something different with the timeline on this one and somehow she made it work…well. The story brought all the couple feels, as a reader, I was longing beside Mercy and Adam.

I devoured this in a day.

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.

WHEN SORROWS COME by Seanan McGuire

When October is informed that Simon Torquill—legally her father, due to Faerie’s archaic marriage traditions—must be invited to her wedding or risk the

It’s hard to be a hero. There’s always something needing October “Toby” Daye’s attention, and her own desires tend to fall by the wayside in favor of solving the Kingdom’s problems. That includes the desire to marry her long-time suitor and current fiancé, Tybalt, San Francisco’s King of Cats. She doesn’t mean to keep delaying the wedding, it just sort of…happens. And that’s why her closest friends have taken the choice out of her hands, ambushing her with a court wedding at the High Court in Toronto. Once the High King gets involved, there’s not much even Toby can do to delay things…

…except for getting involved in stopping a plot to overthrow the High Throne itself, destabilizing the Westlands entirely, and keeping her from getting married through nothing more than the sheer volume of chaos it would cause. Can Toby save the Westlands and make it to her own wedding on time? Or is she going to have to choose one over the other?


Title : When Sorrows Come
Author : Seanan McGuire
Series : October Daye (book fifteen)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 384
Genre : urban fantasy
Publisher : DAW
Release Date : September 14, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 2 star review

Yep, it’s me. I’m still reading this (in my opinion) lacklustre series. 

Overall I’m rather underwhelmed about this instalment which makes a nice departure from previous instalments which have often annoyed me. Toby is up to her usual cavalier shenanigans, her narration is full of lighthearted dramatics, she’s delightfully (not) hypocritical about others who crack jokes in tense situations right after she’s done the same, she spews meaningful backstory to strangers for no reason except exposition as well as redundantly trying to convince us things are meaningful..

.. oh but she finally got married. To Tybalt. Eventually.

Before it can happen, though, we have coups and assassinations and all sorts of the usual-in-this-world hijinks. And, again, as usual, the High King of Everything (whatever) felt pretty incompetent and, at times, needed fae-specific things explained to him. Him. The High King. Was it to make Toby look better or what? Not sure. I didn’t understand this. But it certainly didn’t stop him, or the Queen, from throwing the occasional jabs and blame her way.. even though she hadn’t even wanted to be there and everything would’ve been worse had she not been there to save the day and be the hero. I know I complain about this series, and this character, all the time but there are times that the bigger injustice is how other characters treat this character I don’t even like. Not always. But sometimes. In this case it was milder than it’s been in the past but still a recurring and perplexing phenomenon. 

I did kind of love (this wasn’t a surprise, we’ve known since book one) that the High Kingdom or whatever is situated in Toronto but this time we were actually there, visiting, and there were some Canadian and maple flavoured jokes sprinkled around. That gave me the occasional tickle. And I clung to said amusement like Jack clung to the door.

Of note, it was rather disheartening to see a few typos sprinkled in amongst this traditionally published and edited novel. Almost as disheartening as having to sift through passages where someone says something and Toby reiterates it mostly the same way.. just because she’s the MC. Filler, got to love it.

Thankfully my massive binge has dissipated enough from my mind that I was okay riding this book out and got through it pretty quickly. Maybe because I felt removed from it all, though unfortunately had no issue remembering all the little details — helped by all the rehashing spread through the story — but overall this wasn’t as frustrating as I’ve come to expect. That said, as always, I’m still hoping the end of this series is nigh (there’s three more already announced but unclear how long the series is anticipated to last).