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February Book Discussion - Shadowfever

I liked the question format from January's book discussion thread. If... once others start to participate and post their responses as well, the questions will allow them to pick and choose which aspects they would like to respond to. Plus, it helps organize the thoughts so that it's not just one long, rambling post. (Me, ramble? Never.) Because Shadowfever was much longer than Bloody Valentine, there will be more questions. I tried to pick queries which would highlight the most important aspects of the book rather than just fan-girling it out over my favorite parts. However, I'm sure my preferences will be quite clear by the time this post is complete. Let's get started, shall we?

Shadowfever by Karen Marie Moning

1. At the conclusion of the last book, Dreamfever, someone was dead, in part because of Mac. Was this person revealed to be who you thought it would be?

[If you have not read the book, I would recommend stopping NOW. Many spoilers will be revealed, and this is a book which is just too good to spoil it for yourself.] No, I did not expect Barrons to have died in the last book. Now, this is in part to my overwhelming loyalty and affection towards this character. While, obviously, I care about Mac, for me, Barrons makes these books. I could take the time right now to pen an ode to him, but I won't. I'm sure you have your own Barrons appreciation to savor.

Anyway, for me, Barrons is too integral of a character to kill off. While, yes, Mac still would have had the whole saving the world gig to keep her busy, what's the point of saving the world if there's nothing left for her to enjoy and love after the rescuing is over? Now, I realize this sounds very melodramatic and egotistical. Someone shouldn't save the world because of what it's going to do for them, but let's be realistic: capturing the book and restraining it was not the payoff fans wanted for this series. Rather, the payoff was Barrons and Miss Lane. Together. Being all Jericho and Mac. Together. And naked. A lot.

So, by killing off Barrons in the very first chapter, talk about being both a let down for
Shadowfever and for the entire series. Where do you go from there? Sure, Mac had ambitions to fix what was wrong, but we weren't sure if that would be possible. And part of what made the fight so enjoyable was reading about them going through it together. When they're apart, things just aren't as entertaining, aren't as special, and to contemplate an entire novel without both Barrons and the element of his relationship with Mac, well... it was disconcerting and disappointing. Fear not, though, because....

2. Were you surprised by Barrons' return, or did you anticipate it? Were you appreciative of the fact he can't die, or did it seem like a copout to you?

Oh boy did I appreciate Barrons' return!

On a more practical level, yes, I also somewhat anticipated it, because, like what was said above, there's really no point without him. However, what made it work was that Mac firmly believed that he was dead and that it was because of her actions that he was gone, so we got to see this transformation within her that was both frightening and fascinating. If it wasn't for his “death,” she wouldn't have become Mac 5.0, and I'm not sure the book would have ended the same way. Though a brutal experience, losing Barrons, mourning for him, feeling guilty because of her actions, and confronting just exactly what she was wiling to do for the people she loved – which, yes, included Barrons, all of these things changed her on an essential level.

It also didn't feel like a copout to me, because, though it was revealed that Barrons can't die, he still retained his mystery, because we still don't know what the hell he is. And it's not like he doesn't have weaknesses; they're just not potentially fatal ones. Plus, I mean, come on – it's Barrons! Why the hell would I want him to die? Learning that he can't? Yeah, that's just another reason for me to adore him.

3. After Barrons' “death,” Mac teams up with Darroc, wiling to do anything she has to – including sleeping with him – in order to get her hands on the Sinsar Dubh so she can remake the world with Barrons in it again. Reactions?

This decision made Mac strong enough to save the world; this decision made her even more vulnerable to failure. And that's why it was so compelling.

I wasn't shocked by how traumatized she was by Barrons' “death,” but I also wasn't anticipating this decision. What I found amazing about it was just how stupid and naïve Darroc, beause his vanity, could be... and Alina, too, for falling for him. Mac's seduction of him would have been far too easy, but it made complete sense because he was a former Fae with severe ego issues. But this is immaterial. What's important here is Mac and her decisions.

The fact that Mac was willing to sacrifice everything – including herself and her ideals – in order to create a world where Barrons existed again, especially when she had never once considered doing such a thing for her sister, spoke volumes. If I had not believed her words of loving him, this alone would have confirmed her feelings for Barrons. And, eventually, it was her love, her faith, and her trust in him which made Mac strong enough to defeat her greatest enemy, but, at the same time, this desperation changed her and would have continued to do so. Could it have changed her enough so that she would have become unrecognizable? As for it making her vulnerable, nothing makes a person more so than love, and, if nothing else, the Sinsar Dubh was a master of manipulating such devotion. If Mac would have continued down her self-destructive path, the book would have taken control of her, she would have lost her free will to it, and all powerful or not, she never would have remade the world. Even if she did, Barrons wouldn't have wanted her at that point. She wouldn't have been his Rainbow Girl anymore.

4. Mac starts to fear that she is the Concubine and then the Unseelie King. Did you believe either explanation of her background?

Honestly, yes, the Concubine idea made sense to me, and, before that, I had considered the idea of her being the child of the Concubine and the UK. Although Mac argued against his idea because of the amount of time which would have had to have lapsed for it to be possible, time is so different in Faery. Plus, with the UK's powers, it wouldn't have been a stretch at all, in my opinion, for him to somehow transfer her essence, made from combining his essence with the Concubine's, into a suitable human host whenever he wanted to, millions of years into the future or not.

Now, the idea that Mac was the Concubine would have been strengthened if it were possible for Barrons to be the UK, but, once that was disproven, I started to lose faith in that explanation, and I never once believed that Mac was the Unseelie King herself. While my argument against this idea is going to sound trite and even perhaps closed minded, it's also how I felt while reading the book. First of all, Barrons would never be attracted to a male, no matter how powerful and no matter what neat, pretty packaging the man came in. He's simply too masculine and heterosexual himself to ever entertain this possibility. And then there's Mac who is 100% girl, way too feminine to be the UK. While gender does not mean as much to the Fae, Barrons wasn't Fae, and Mac had been raised human. It just wouldn't have worked for me.

5. Though through coercion, Dani was the one to facilitate Alina's murder. Had you anticipated this? Your feelings towards the reveal?

For me, this was the biggest surprise of the entire book. I never would have predicted this. Never. And that's why it was probably the best reveal of the novel. Plus, you know, there's all the complex character development goodness, too, to appreciate about what this revelation did for the book as well.

Moning's decision to make Dani at least partially responsible for Alina's death was perfect because, in a way, Dani had become Mac, and Mac had become Alina in their relationship. Though different, their feelings towards each other were deep, and, though Mac was now the older, wiser sibling figure rather than the naïve, innocent baby sister one, this change in dynamics was important to her maturation. It taught her how to be a leader, it taught her to be less selfish, and it taught her maternal instincts as well. For a woman who was meant to save the world, those aren't traits to slouch about.

But then the truth was let out of the bag, and Mac was absolutely devastated. It stripped her down to her barest level. Everything she had been working for where Alina's death was concerned had been taken away from her, because, sure, she killed the Unseelie who physically murdered her sister, but she couldn't kill Dani without killing a piece of herself. The entire plotline had a decided Greek tragedy feel to it which, though complicated, often strip humans and their relationships down to the barest of levels. Things get interesting when this happens.

Furthermore, because of her devastation, Mac finally broke down some of the walls standing between her and Barrons. No, this wasn't what reunited... or, I guess, united them in the first place, but it certainly made what came next easier. By losing this part of herself, Mac was forced to grow up even more, confront even more of her fears, and really chip away at everything else to get to what her heart really wanted, what she needed. In the end, it wasn't revenge, the one thing she had been working on achieving for so long. And, once more, she became stronger. Embracing love rather than hate, which was a byproduct of this reveal, tends to do that.

6. Previously, we had read about a flashback of Barrons with a child. His child. It's revealed in Shadowfever that the little boy is alive... but out of his mind, a killer, un-killable just like his father, yet incurable of his madness as well. Thoughts?

I'm a sucker for children, and I'm an even bigger sucker for a strong, deadly man brought to his knees by a child. Barrons son did just this to his father. He also showed us just how compassionate and kind Mac can be, what kind of mother she would be. Though I wasn't sure what was going to happen when she finally approached the child in his cage, I never expected for him to morph and attack her. Kill her. Be the reason it was revealed that she couldn't die unless stabbed with either the sword of light or the spear. Be the catalyst Mac and Jericho needed to
finally be with one another again... and for good this time. To be the catalyst for them to finally become truthful with each other once and for all. But the best part about Barrons' child? He proved that Barrons could have children, and I have no doubt that Mac is fertile as well.

What can I say? I'm a sucker for my favorite couples having babies together as well.

7. Rowena was a traitor. Surprised?

Absolutely freaking NOT surprised. That woman was a liar, a manipulator, and she was constantly belittling and trying to discredit Mac. No matter what, from the very start of this series, Mac has been our heroine, and characters who so adamantly oppose the heroine of a book usually tend to be a bad guy... or girl in this case. It made perfect sense that the book would be able to corrupt her... if she wasn't corrupt already before the Sinsar Dubh came into contact with her, but that would a whole chicken and egg debate, and I don't want to jump aboard that never-ending loop-de-loop. It made perfect sense that she would have Dani murder Alina. And it was fitting as hell that Mac was the one to finally kill the bitch. Ding dong, I say. And good riddance.

8. Christian was becoming an Unseelie prince. Did you like this twist?

I did like this twist, immensely so. As someone who has read all of Moning's
Highlander books as well, it was nice to see those shining examples of men again, the Keltars, but I also find it compelling that one of their own, men usually considered so good and true that they had the sole responsibility of performing the Queen's sacred rituals, now is an Unseelie and within their ranks. And not just any Unseelie but an Unseelie prince. Plus, Christian, before, was such a wholesome character himself, but, now, he's being forced to confront his darker urges and desires. Combine this with his penchant for determining truth, and he suddenly went from being a boring, pale comparison of a character compared to Barrons to an interesting, pale comparison of a character to Barrons. (See. Preferences on full display.)

9. V'lane was Cruce; the DEG/DEB – Dreamy Eyed Guy/ Dreamy Eyed Boy – was the Unseelie King. Did you predict either?

Well, I can say that neither reveal surprised me... but for different reasons. Let's take V'lane first. I never liked him. He was vain, and arrogant, and, even when he was supposedly revealing a big truth, he never told Mac anything. Sure, much of the same things could be said about Barrons, but, like he always told Mac, actions spoke louder than words, and Barrons was certainly a man of actions; V'lane was not. He'd show up when I least wanted him around, and he was never there when Mac really needed him, but he always had an excuse. So, while I didn't know that he was the traitor amongst them, the viper in the nest, I wasn't shocked either.

With the DEG/DEB, this one I was somewhat anticipating. It was the way he talked to Mac – in riddles, the meaning of his words elusive... just like the conversations between the Sinsar Dubh and an unidentified person, the way he would just appear, the way that she saw one thing but Barrons didn't when at Chester's. Now, I didn't start coming to this realization until this final book, but I'm sure that if – no, when – I go back and reread the series, so many more clues will become perfectly apparent to me.

10. Were you satisfied with the conclusion? Moning is said to be working on another story set in the Fever world, but it won't be a Mac tale. Thoughts? Predictions?

Satisfaction is a tricky thing. While I very much so liked the ending of
Shadowfever and while I was pleased with the direction the book took, I also did not want to see it end. I need more Mac and Barrons; I need more Barrons! That was the most difficult part for me - knowing that this was the last book in the series. I wanted to savor it, read it slowly, but it was just too good to dawdle. [BTW, the cover art was SUPERB for this novel. Amazing. I carry hardbacks without their jacket, and so many people commented on the book when they saw it, asked about it even without the extra embellishment of the jacket.] I guess all I can hope is that, even if they aren't the focus of her next book, they'll still be connected; they'll still play a role... even if through another character's eyes.

As for who that character might be, I know that many readers (and, if I'm not mistaken) Moning, too, are quite fond of the Dani character. [On Moning's part, this is proven by the inclusion of the Dani POV chapters.] However, if it's her story we're going to read next, I wonder if there's going to be a time jump, because Dani's only 14 right now, and Moning's books are very sexual. [That is definitely NOT a complaint, just an observation.] Plus, with Dani, we still need to see some resolution to her relationship with Mac, we need to see her come to terms with her own role in Alina's murder, there's that third prophecy she mentioned, and who the hell is Dancer?

Other options: I'd like to see Christian's story continued. In addition, there are all of Barrons' men, too. As a Moning fan, I'm aware of the fact that she likes to introduce a family or a group of supporting/minor characters and then revisit them later in more detail with their own books. Then there's also the fact that the wall is still down, and there are all those Faery worlds as well. I see so many possibilities.

There is one thing I know for sure, though – whatever the book turns out to be, I'll be reading it. Oh, and I'll be buying the Mac graphic novel, too, coming out this fall. Barrons in illustrations? Undeniable.

General Thoughts:

Read. Read! READ
Shadowfever. You WILL NOT be disappointed... as long as you like the other books in the series. Whatever you do, do not jump into the series with this book and think to go backwards or work out of order. Reading these novels in order will do the mind good. Also, for anyone who has never read a Fever Series book before, they're complicated; full of rich mythology; there's so much manipulation and double crossing, misdirection; there are different creatures besides humans, creatures that aren't even labeled, and the humans themselves sometimes have great and fantastic powers; and some of the language – because of the Fae and Irish aspects – is challenging. If you enjoy fantasy or science fiction, though (with some romance tossed in, too, of course), then you should love them. I know I do. In fact, I can't wait to start the series all over again. They're that good.


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