This review will probably not be coherent to anyone except those familiar with this series, and maybe not even then. There will be spoilers. And conflicting feelings.
The shortest version of my history with the Fever series is that I instantly fell in love with the first five books, reading them all in succession over the course of a weekend. I had Fever fever. I’ve read those original five several times since then. When I learned that Karen Marie Moning planned to continue the series, I was thrilled. I was skeptical when I learned that she would be continuing it with Dani, who was a fourteen year old character in an extremely steamy series, complete with Fae that sex (rape, actually) you to death, and the general tone of everyone being bangable and objectifying each other as such. When Iced was released, it proved to be problematic to me and many other readers.
Since then, Moning course-corrected, and it kind of feels like she never stopped correcting and over-correcting. Every installment seemed to have some element of apologizing for something in the last. It’s not as if there wasn’t good material happening underneath all of the baggage, but it felt like the books were heavily weighed down by the criticism and bickering of fans in the real world. On top of that, Moning did have some… personal drama IRL immediately preceding the release of the book before this, and it was the type of gaffe that is really difficult to dissociate from a person’s otherwise unrelated professional output. And I’m conflicted by all of this, because I appreciate an author’s attempt to acknowledge reader feedback and fix problematic aspects of their work, but I also feel like, to be quite honest, Moning went about it in a very superficial way, and still doesn’t quite seem to understand the underlying issues. So the “corrections” aren’t seamless: they’re tacked on and present, in a very obvious way, like covering nudity with a big black bar that yells “CENSORED!!!”.
To wit, Moning talks about consent A LOT in this book, which is not something she ever really explicitly addressed before. She uses really direct girl-power language ripped right off a Tumblr meme in multiple instances of Mac asserting her autonomy. It’s laudable. I appreciate her formalizing the stance that she does, considering everything that came before. And yet. Later, she has Mac basically forgive Cruce later for raping her repeatedly, using really hand-wavy excuses, and then goes so far as to have her kiss him, rather emotionally too toward the end of the book. And like… Mac is a fictional character, and I am not trying to tell a rape survivor what to do, like they can’t ever forgive their rapists, but I also think it’s a TERRIBLE example to set, that as an author you make that choice. I don’t think there is enough disbelief in the world to suspend that a woman, who went through what Mac did, would want to be anywhere near the perpetrator again, much less get to the state of beatific forgiveness that Mac does.
But, if I ignore all that, which is really not easy to do (hello, I just spent a paragraph ranting about it) Feversong wraps up with a pretty good story. It’s a little silly at times — Mac is already superhuman enough without making her the literal Fae Queen — but the series was never VERY serious and I do expect and enjoy a bit of ludicrousness from these books. The other main thing that turned me off about Feversong was that, at the beginning, Mac starts off possessed by the Sinsar Dubh, which is the evilest of evils, and…. the writing in these sections was just a bit too much. Moning can write creepy horror, but writing in the first person of the worst evil in the world was honestly cringe-worthy. The first quarter of “Mac’s” sections are like this, and I just could not wait for them to end. This was a storyline that seemed like it had a lot of potential, and then ended up collapsing under the weight of the cartoonish POV. Moning obviously couldn’t sustain it, and so ended up giving Mac a fairly easy out. It was somewhat disappointing, but fortunately wrapped up early enough in the book that I could more or less forget about it (save for another appearance later, which was completely unnecessary.)
I’m not really trying to convince anyone of anything with this review. I suspect that people who have stuck with the series this far will end up reading it, just like me and my misplaced obligation. I regret that I couldn’t enjoy this with the same kind of abandon as when I first picked up the books, but those couple of serious missteps are difficult to forget.