I don't know how to adequately express my love of this book series. It is my personal Harry Potter, the books I would grab if my house caught fire and I could only save my most precious possessions. It is the series that transports me into an urban fantasy world, where Karen Moning pulls and yanks at the threads of her story, sends me on wild goose chases and makes me fall in love again and again with a fictional character that pisses me off as much as he makes me lust for him. It's the kind of series where the main character is someone you want to root for, someone you want to see find her happiness, or fecking die trying.
It's bloody fecking brilliant. And so is Karen Moning for dreaming it up.
Please stop here if you have not read the six previous books. It is impossible to not spoil them while discussing this one, but rest assured, this review will not contain spoilers for this book.
BURNED picks up exactly where Karen left us in ICED: with a spear at Dani's back and Mac's struggle with her hurt and betrayal of her sister's killer front and center. Fever #7 is less about action and more about relationships. Moning spends time with more of her characters and allows us to be the passengers in a front-seat view of their actions and thoughts. I loved getting to know some of the Nine more intimately, seeing what makes them tick. Perhaps their agendas are less malevolent than we think.
Speaking of that, there are multiple POVs in this story, unlike Dreamfever where Dani is the only one who narrates while Mac is incapacitated. Now we get Kat, Lor, Dani, Christian, Barrons, Mac...and a couple others who make appearances throughout the pages. I normally hate this method of storytelling, but it just works for Moning in BURNED. Readers get more insight into characters we think are enigmas, it answers a bunch of questions about them, and it drives the plot forward. I'm not sure she could have written this story any other way without losing something of it.
Filet mignon or rib eye, we're all imperfect cuts, marbled by fears and insecurities, even the best of men.
Moning humanizes Barrons for us. Oh, he's still the pragmatic, unrelenting Beast, but she makes you picture sitting down civilly with him and taking tea. I started to think, man, Barrons really loves this world and genuinely wants to save it. You can see it in the hidden whimsies, like the store name "Barrons Books and Baubles", and his off the cuff remarks about pop culture, or the many baubles we can suspect he's collected throughout the millennia. Barrons became relatable, but no less scary or savage. Believe it or not, the Nine do make mistakes, and you can surprise them. They will always surprise you, though.
I know a simple truth: mercy killing doesn't hold one fucking ounce of mercy for those that live.
Mac suffers a bit in this book. After learning she is the Sinsar Dubh in walking form, she's scared to act. She's scared to defend herself. She's basically become a useless human, with no self-confidence, and that isn't something she likes. She loved being a badass - more than she realized, I think - but much of her internal struggle is pretty "woe is me." People who are not fans of Mac already will hate this about BURNED. Be warned. It didn't bother me that much because I feel her character is always growing beyond what the reader can imagine.
When you live as long as we do, you find yourself in bed with women you watched get born.
It's well-known that Dani is aged in Fever #7. Whether KMM did that to appease her readers who cried that Ryodan was a pedophile or not remains unknown. Right in the beginning of the story, I realized exactly how Dani would be aged. And you know what? It made sense. It worked for the story, and Moning does not compromise the integrity of the world's "rules". But even if she hadn't aged her, I don't think I would have cared. In post-apocalyptic scenarios, are we really going to worry about how old someone is, especially when she's lived more lifetimes in her 14 years than others do in 100? If you are immortal, when does the age of your lovers cease to matter?
The currency of life is passion, and as with any coin, it has two sides: pleasure, pain, joy, sorry. Impossible to slip a single side of that coin into your pocket. You take all or nothing.
What no one tells you is that when someone you love dies, you lose them twice. Once to death, the second time to acceptance, and you don't walk that long, dark passage between the two alone. Grief takes every shuffling, unwilling step with you, offering a seductive bouquet of memories that can only blossom south of sanity. You can stay there, nose buried in the petals of the past. But you're never really alive again. Spend enough time with ghosts, you become one.
Mac continues to struggle with Alina's death in BURNED. A part of this bothered me, because I thought she had come to terms with Alina's killer in Shadowfever, but again, we are rehashing it, and I will admit, it did feel like conflict for the sake of conflict. But I suppose grief is a private thing and there is no right way to do it, so I can believe that she may have regressed the longer she thought about it. Certainly though, Mac has learned to take the bad with the good. That might have been the first thing she learned in this world.
The lighter the blonde, the more perfect the roots, the less tempting they are to keep around. No woman over twenty-five is still platinum to the roots. Just ain't happening if the babe ain't Fae. The kind of woman that dyes her hair platinum is on the prowl for exactly what - and all - I'm willing to give: a fuck.
There is way less sex in BURNED than previous books, but way more talking about it. How does that even work? One thing I loved about the first five books in the Fever series was the sexual tension. In ICED, I also felt sexual tension, even if it was with secondary characters. BURNED didn't do as much for me there, which was mildly disappointing considering how many viewpoints we were given.
One thing I have come to realize only now reading BURNED is that indifference is much worse than evil. I can't really blame the Unseelie for the havoc they have wreaked on the planet. They had been locked away for so long, it would make anyone crazy. Are they evil, or are they the product of an indifferent King whose only goal is to get his concubine back?
I also realized that basically all the catastrophes throughout the series can be blamed on exactly two people: the Unseelie King, and Adam Black. UK for creating the Dark Book on his quest to give his concubine immortality; and Adam Black for sentencing Darroc to mortality on the human world. Thanks, assholes!
Death is the final chapter in a book you can't unread.
HOLY FUCK, IS THIS FORESHADOWING? PLEASE GOD NO.
Overall? Yes, please, give me more, KMM! I never want to leave the Fever world!...more
99 Days is a bit different than How To Love though. Where How To Love explores the themes of young, semi-religous lovers and the fallout from teenage sex, 99 Days is more about redemption and learning to live with - and perhaps embrace - one's mistakes. The message of forgiveness is a powerful one.
A year ago, Molly fled the small town where she grew up, to finish her high school education at a boarding school in Arizona. It was about as far away as she could get, and she rues the idea of coming home for summer break, before heading off to college. She left her life in a mess; it was tangled in lies, fear and guilt.
Here's the thing: if cheating is your trigger, don't read this. Cheating in books doesn't typically bother me, especially if there is a message to go with the story. In 99 Days, Molly cheats - twice. Plenty of people will grip the book in frustration, calling her TSTL, but really...I thought it was incredibly honest. In fact, that's probably what I liked most about this book: it wasreally fucking honest.
You can't cheat and expect to walk away unscathed. People are going to judge you, people are going to talk about you and it's pretty much all your fault and you're going to have to figure out how to deal with it.
So Molly semi-cheated on her long-time boyfriend, Patrick. I say "semi" because:
(For the record, it's still the greatest sitcom that ever graced TV.) When Molly returns, she has to deal with the fallout from her actions. Her BFF bounced on her, her ex-boyfriend's mom and sister now hate her and the only one who will talk to her is the guy she cheated on him with, Gabe. Who, by the way, is Patrick's brother, and no one actually blames him, which does a great job of illustrating:
The Double Standard.
There is some serious slut-shaming in this book, but it's with a purpose. There is a double-standard in our world where women who sleep with multiple guys are whores, and the guys are Men and they suffer no repercussions, besides the occasional attaboy. What the hell is that, anyway? Cotugno does a great job illustrating that double standard throughout 99 Days, with mean teenage pranks, vicious name-calling and lots of eggs.
The book isn't perfect. It isn't meant to be. It tells the story of a girl who made mistakes and tries to figure out how to get her life back. Yes, she spends a long time feeling sorry for herself when she was one half of the pair that screwed up, but she's a teenager. I don't expect her to make adult decisions at 17 or 18 years old.
And that's why I loved it. It's a roll-around-in-the-dirt muddy story and it's apologetic. It was honest, it was true to the scenario and it didn't have a prettily-packaged ending. But it does show the struggles of bad decisons, and how hard it can be to learn from them, or admit you might be wrong. Its imperfections make it - perfect.