When The Music's Over

A SUPER Spoilery Discussion of Feversong by Karen Marie Moning

by: Zee the Terrible and Barbara Bones

By Olga.
It's now been two weeks since we got our hot little hands on Feversong, the final book in the Mac & Barrons part of Karen Marie Moning's Fever series. It's almost all we can talk about in the Saucy Wenches hallways (which is really online, but you get the drift) and we have lots of thoughts and opinions so we aren't putting off our Super Spoilery Recap Extravaganza any longer! 

Zee told you about how much she loved it in her Wench review, here, and it will surprise exactly no one that Barb did, too. Loved it to pieces. Thought it was pretty much perfect, exactly the kind of conclusion KMM has been promising us since she gave us Iced, leaving everyone precisely where they need to be. That said, we have lots and lots and LOTS of thoughts. So come with us through the jump where we're dishing all the dirt, in filthy, spoilery detail. We mentioned that spoilers would abound, right? Consider yourself warned!



Physicality 

In true Wench fashion we are going to start with a little shallowness: this book, the hardback, is GORGEOUS! You've seen the cover, and Random House's art department outdid themselves there, but the inside covers, and the header pages on each chapter are simply lovely, too. If you haven't had a chance to see this book in person, pop into your local bookstore and take a look. We thought the full hardback price was totally worth the beauty poured into this book. Of course the signatures we got along with a moment with The Goddess herself, didn't hurt. 
Click to enlarge

Then there's this greeting to each of us on the dedication page. Saucy Readers, Barb has been telling us since she met Ms. Moning the first time back in 2012 that KMM adores her readers, that she truly understands that we make her work possible, but we hope this proves it to you. That dedication isn't just lip service. She truly appreciates her readers, and we love her right back.


What Just Happened?


The book opens with the Sinsar Dubh having taken over Mac's body, getting away from Dani and hurrying to the Abbey. It can't deal with Christian the way it wanted to (more on Christian in a bit) and when it gets to Cruce it unleashes every single bit of its rage and frustration on the Unseelie Prince. The assault on Cruce was stunning in its brutality and swiftness. Up to this point in the series there has been a lot of ugliness that was glossed over, alluded to, not illustrated in graphic detail, but the rampage the book goes on was very hard to read, beginning with Cruce. Then the vengeful book happens upon Jo, whom we have grown to love and admire like the sister she is to Mac. Her fate is one of the most difficult ones of the book. The graphic brutality of her murder was just plain hard to read. We think that this choice was in incredibly brave one for KMM to make, but it didn't make it easy to witness. (Zee was already picturing how great this scene would be in graphic novel form, but that's a whole other post!)
Hard to watch.
Something that needs to be said about Jo. Wow. Only KMM could make us feel this way. ONLY her. We went from hating on Jo in Iced, (How she must have laughed at us!) to mourning her violent death in Feversong. And spending most of it biting our nails about Lor finding out about it and what his reaction would be.

The sheer violence of Jo's murder by the book, and the fact that it wants to see if consuming her will make the vessel stronger in some way, really drives home exactly what we're dealing with when it comes to the Sinsar Dubh. It's not your average villain. It's motivation isn't quite as sophisticated as the ones we've been used to. And it is one petulant asshole. It seems ruled by petty revenge, undiluted rage, a penchant for extreme violence, and an inflated sense of self. It's almost childlike in the way it likes fucking with Mac and Barrons. Which  is why Zee felt like the way it was dealt with was bloody perfect, not giving it the grandeur we're sure it thought it deserved. 


Cycles of Mac

Watching Mac walk away from it was such a satisfying moment. How absolutely liberating it was for Mac to realize that "The Sinsar Dubh has no hold on me." Being a hostage to the book for so long, in your own mind and body, was perhaps more exhausting and terrifying than being held hostage in a room where you can see the walls holding you in and the door your captor locks. No prison is easy for a hostage to escape from. Regardless of how simple it may seem to someone on the inside who has never been held captive like that. Mac's prison was as real as any. For Mac to come to the realization on her own with this, to do this on her own, to have the strength to stand up and walk away, was not as small a deal as one may think it was. It took everything. And it was wonderful. Zee wanted to high five Mac at that moment. 
It's nice to meet you. Finally. Mac.

We cried. Ugly cried.
Feversong paralleled Shadowfever in many ways for us. Overall it sewed up so many of the threads that had been weaving through the series and especially the second arc. But even more than that, much like in Shadowfever, Feversong starts out with one set of problems and assumptions, flips them on their heads, eliminates them, and moves on with new problems. As we started the book we assumed that the Sinsar Dubh will be the "big bad" to be defeated throughout the book, but abruptly in the middle Mac simply walks away with all of herself intact, rendering the Sinsar Dubh caged and powerless. For Barb this felt very reminiscent of the Hunter popping Darroc's head like a grape. 

Long Live the Queen. And King. Maybe?

We absolutely loved spending time with Aiobheal/Zara. And finding out a bit of who she was before becoming who we've known her as all along was absolutely fascinating! Our hearts broke a little for the happy and free, barefoot, brown skinned witch and healer who lost her precious soul to immortality. We feel like some of us kind of took it for granted that this was one of those love stories that, despite all the craziness and drama and mad scientist antics in the middle, would somehow end with them together. So I bow down to Karen Marie Moning for giving us something different. Yes, it was bittersweet. But beautiful. That scene where she exits the King's boudoir one last time actually hit us hard. 
The concubine's boudoir no longer connected to the king's.  
The tiny flames flickering in the diamonds floating on the air around us abruptly went out {snip} petals that no longer smelled spicy but now emitted a strong whiff of decay. 
The residue of the concubine vanished from the bed.
The fire in the hearth died.
 

The chamber was just a chamber, void of all the trace of opulent beauty, passion, and sensuality that had saturated it. 
Although I had no idea what had transpired between the legendary lovers, I knew what these events signified; the epic love affair between the Unseelie King and his concubine was over. 
Inexpressible sorrow filled me.
Her interactions with the man called Rain, aka DEG, (uhuh, you read that right) were also pretty interesting, and honestly I could have read way more of her story. I cannot get over my awe of this author. I NEVER thought I'd really give a damn about the Unseelie King and the concubine's love story. But somehow it wormed it's way into our hearts and we stood there in that now cold and empty chamber a little longer than was strictly necessary mourning for a love that went oh so wrong. 
KMM always leaves us wanting more of every story line!

They Didn't Break Me

Aoibheal giving Mac the True Magic fully knowing she was human was a huge moment. This is the Mac that could finally deal with this burden. Cruce was, understandably, not pleased, but this leads to some insanely amazing Mac and Cruce interactions. You guys, this book kept driving it in so.freaking.brilliantly how important choice is in everything. Yes. Cruce turned out to be one of Mac's rapists and a villain. But one step to the other side, one door unopened, one road crossed the other way, and Cruce could have been something entirely different to us. Mac coming to terms with EXACTLY who Cruce is, who he could have been, what he's done, is another amazing Mac moment. Our girl has so many in Feversong! Yes, he had harmed her, so much. But he did not break her. Her grief, her trauma, something she had been processing since it happened, it all comes down to this point, where she finally realized she's stronger and better than it. It does not define her. It never will. It won't dictate her fear, her anger. She's free. 
He was a predator. He'd preyed on me. I was aware now. Wide-awake, eyes open. I knew what existed in the world and I knew how to protect myself from it. All that was left in me about the rape was a calm acknowledgement that this man had harmed me. I knew what he was and would deal with him accordingly. 
At the end of the world, for Mac to have still not dealt with her personal, very real, issues with Cruce would have been a disservice to her epic character growth. Not once does she excuse his rape, or his past actions. Not once. But standing at the edge of the world while it's ending, she realizes truths bigger than herself, her past, her traumas, and that is powerful. Those Mac and Cruce interactions after her realization are entirely necessary to this ultimate version of Mac. They are empowering, brilliant moments. And we'd be lying if we said we weren't holding our breaths a lot in most of those chapters. 

Another thing we've always appreciated about KMM's writing. There isn't always stark line between black and white, no distinct demarcation between good and evil. It's rarely that convenient. Choice has everything to do with which side of the line you're toeing. And Cruce is such a perfect example of that. Truly, we didn't think he could be a more interesting character. Mysterious stranger, possible love interest, reluctant ally, psychotic antagonist, betrayer, martyr, and the Great Deceiver. He is all of those things, and so much more. 


You Will Always Be Our Everything


Now, coming to Barrons. Lord. We're going to need encyclopaedia length posts to talk about Barrons. We've already established that Barrons basically is better in every book, in EVERY possible way. Well, readers, in Feversong, gird your loins, steel your heart, and be strong. Because he is better than all the previous books combined. We know. It sounds like bullshit. But would we lie to you? Barrons is, and always will be, Zee's absolute favorite alpha male in the literary world, always has been. Always will be. And he blew all our minds in this. He's perfect for Mac, especially Ultimate Mac. And we savored every moment they were on page together, being badass, sexy, and perfect. 

It's not even just that Barrons is absolute fucking perfection in this, Mac and Barrons together rocked our freaking worlds. There were moments that gave us chills, made us smile, definitely made us weep. Lines said, out loud or otherwise, that had us gasping because OH MY GOD. At the end of the day we are just useless, blubbering Mac & Barrons' fangirls and nothing will ever change that. 


"Jericho," I whispered against his ear, "thank you. For everything." I drew back and laughed, feeling inexpressibly light. "It's been one hell of a ride."

He smiled at me, dark eyes gleaming. "Rainbow Girl." He laced his fingers with mine and said nothing for a long time. Then, "We'll find each other again. Somehow."

Of that I had no doubt.



Readers have been endlessly confused about the mural scene towards the end, but we loved it. Mac and Barrons have their future together stretched out in front of them. As always, there's more than one way to do it. And you know what, I trust Mac, they will do better. I believe in them. I smiled a little at the Mac that was finally ready and able to truly see the mural. And that scene made my heart hurt with just how it felt like everything was right in the world with them.
Of all the years, this one with you has been my finest. Fire to my ice, Mac.  

Frost to my flame, Jericho. 

Forever.

Learning to Love


After Iced KMM told us that Mac grew up with all the love in the world, but she had no strength. Dani grew up with all the strength in the world, but no love. They each needed to grow what they lacked. The second Fever story arc, culminating with Feversong, showed our two heroines arriving at exactly the destination KMM laid out for them more than four (or twelve!) years ago. We saw the true depth of Dani's bravery and fearlessness in this. Loving Dancer with everything. Opening up to him completely. Depsite her insecurities. Knowing they have a deadline. That takes more courage than one can know. Opening yourself up to that kind of love, after the life she's had. My God. We can't imagine the strength it takes.

Dancer was so necessary for Dani's personal growth. The fact that his days were numbered was probably the one thing that gave Dani the courage to throw herself in love with him. Can something be both a prison and a gift? "His heart was my cage." And it really was, the woman who came back from the Silvers wanted to run. But she didn't. If it hadn't been for her finding out, she would have stalled forever. And it would have been bloody tragic. But not only teaching Dani to love, Dancer also taught her that not all superheroes wear capes. Dancer was brilliant and used that gift to help as many people as he could with his limited time on Earth. He figured out how to use science to deal with magic, like when he figured out what the Hoar Frost King was "eating" and how to make Shades avoid him. His intellectual gifts were just as valuable as the physical gifts of nearly everyone else in Dani's life, and that was so important to her growth. 

Dani and Dancer was something that needed to happen. For her to know sweetness, purity, unconditional love, human love. Dancer's death... wow. It hurt. Loss carves us in so many ways. One day the world is going on as always, you're safe in your daily routine whatever it might be, and the next, the rug has been yanked out from under you. You're sitting there, on your ass, trying to catch a breath, and attempting to understand what happened. When the promise of another tomorrow with someone is gone, life becomes a lot more real. More stark. And how you deal with that can make or break you. And watching Dani deal with it broke our hearts. But we're glad, we're glad she got to love him. And more importantly, be loved by him. 




Zee has always loved Dancer even though she figured there was something more to him. And in a way, she was right. Knowing that your time here is limited, having already died once, fully accepting your fragile life and not being afraid of death does give a person an otherworldly wisdom. A new outlook on life. In a way the rest of us mere mortals will never understand.  Kat once said that she sensed a deep darkness in Dancer, secrets she couldn't touch, and we believe that was Dancer's three-minute death in childhood. He had seen Death, knew it intimately and didn't fear it. That alters a person, allows him to touch a darkness that the living can never understand. Of COURSE there was more to him. We wanted him to be who he said he was, for Dani. For him to never shatter Dani's trust and faith in him. And he did not disappoint. We got exactly that at the end, but at a steep price. And we'll miss him.

One of our favorite things was also the evolution of Dani's narration throughout the series. It's so wonderful to see her mature and grow in front of us. It's especially apparent in how she sees Ryodan now. We saw him through Dani's teenaged lens before. When he was a superhero to her. And he was great, but we didn't see him as clearly as we do now. This Ryodan is a much more multi-faceted creature. A Ryodan on much more even playing field with Dani, no longer dealing with an impulsive child. It's absolutely riveting and I swear we were hanging off his every word and move. We love grown up Dani as much as the young one! Although we adored it when Mac could see a bit of the pre-Silvers Dani we all loved when she was annoyed with Ryodan's World News.

She screwed up her face in a look of such utter disgust that for a moment all I could see was a young Dani again, and I had to bite my lip to keep from smiling.
The glimpse into Dani's childhood was heartbreaking. Her life has been such a journey, but she's always managed to shine brilliantly in the darkness and it's something we love about her. Her ability to love, to laugh, despite everything, is something we deeply admire. And it's something that makes her so special to everyone she comes into contact with. She found Shazam when she was lost in the Silvers and found love there. She found it in Mac and Dancer. We hope she always finds love and we can't wait to see what's in store for our Mega in the future. We just hope she always manages to rise again. A little scarred, a little burned, but always brilliant. 

Oh, we have to add, SHAZAM! WE LOVED SHAZAM! Even if he can devour entire civilizations, we think he's the only pet our Dani could have in this crazy world. Let's hope she can convince to go on a diet. For everyone's sake. 

Ryodan also blew our fucking minds in Feversong. He was basically killing us dead, and we were lying there taking our last breaths when we got A RYODAN POINT-OF-VIEW. And then we died, became zombies, got killed again, and came back to read it again, because like Zee mentioned in her review, we are masochists. 

I still feel the burn of her hands on my face, in my hair, sliding down my body as our kiss took a much deeper, more savage turn.
Thanks KMM. 

His silent vow to one day be her last is something we're going to love reading about. The strength it must have taken for him to let her go, knowing that he'd be feeling her loving other people while he patiently waited, possibly for years. The selflessness of knowing that he wasn't what she needed, yet, to step back and let her live and learn that he is the only creature who will always be able to keep up with her, on every level. We were awed. Years ago KMM told us that her goal was to have Ryodan blot Barrons right out of our heart's sky. Well, we aren't there yet, but we can see how it might happen. We'll see how it goes, Ryo. Best of luck! It was also fascinating as hell hearing him tell Dani a bit about his childhood, and why he never killed Rowena. Peeking behind the curtain into Ryodan's past was so interesting. We wanted to peel it all the way back, but, alas that's not how it works. We loved Ryo+Mac scenes, as always, their sibling quibbling is still hilarious, even when he's nonthreateningly stalking her, telling her to save Shazam for Dani at the possible end of the world, and asking her to advise Dani to stop vibrating on Dancer! But we absolutely loved the "family" realization moment between him and Mac.
No I was solving world problems with my other family. I glanced at Ryodan, who was observing me with a faint smile. When he nodded minutely, I realized that while Barrons could go happily off and be solitary for the rest of his existence, Ryodan wanted family. {snip} 

I nodded back. We would keep it intact. Protect it. Always have each other's backs. Whatever it took.
Really, everything was absolute perfection in this book. We want to talk about EVERY page with you guys. Christian was amazing as always, so Zee and Anne are desperate for more. We're really tickled by the sidhe-seer challenging him, taunting him, because he needs someone to kick his ass into gear! Also, we're trying not to be too obvious about wanting to read super sexy Christian scenes. But can you imagine how great those would be?

We did spend a lot of Feversong worried about Lor finding out exactly how Jo died.  How he'd deal with it, would he blame Mac, how would Mac handle it, would Barrons do something? You know, your usual Fever related questions. The saddest thing was probably the fact that we wouldn't have more Lor+Jo sex scenes because those were epic. But it also sucks that Lor found someone he could have loved, and that got taken away from him. We did love Lor the Bonecrusher though, it's yet another side of him, and while we miss Lor the easy going lover, this was fun to read. Not to mention the way Mac handled him LIKE A BOSS. "Barrons said try a rocket launcher." We laughed as hard as Barrons did when she told him. KMM has made us such bloodthirsty Wenches! We love it. 

Tied Up With a Beautiful Bow

Come on in, the water's great.
We're just so happy about the way it ended. Some stories can go too big at the end, or attempt to, because they're trying to recapture that "in the middle of the story" suspense for the ending and that's just not how endings work. We didn't need more adrenaline when it came to M&B, we needed stability. Because there's nothing sexier than two equals fully recognizing each other and choosing to hold hands through life. Sure, there are still more stories to tell. Mac still owes the UK a boon. Should we worry about all the people turning Unseelie and Seelie? Will they be losing their souls and emotions too? Will Mac? Will Cruce, that clever Fae, make a reappearance? But honestly, one of the best things about this series has always been that it did not need all its questions answered, it didn't need every single thread tied up neatly in a bow. We have solid ground beneath us when it comes to so much of the story, and sure, for some of it we stepped into shallow swamps, a few of the story lines lead from land to nothing beneath us. But swimming in the endless possibilities is the best part for a reader, and no one gives us as much depth to swim in as KMM.

We will never not be awed at the deftness with which Karen Moning weaves together love, adventure, morality, and the meaning of life. We closed Feversong with a deeper understanding of the world, and pure joy at the place where she left one of the most perfectly imperfect couples we've ever read. Our characters were perfectly in-character, the resolution was imminently satisfying, while not being overly-dramatic, and there were enough things left in the air that we're confident when we step into the next book with a new central character we will still be wondering what comes next. Feversong is the perfect culmination of an epic series that we will carry with us for the rest of our days. Thank you, Ms. Moning for sharing your world with us.


Thank you.


Comments

  1. Huge kudos to you, awesome post for an outstanding story.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for the wonderful review. After reading this last book it almost feels like KMM shared a part of her soul. Like she bled to give us such wonderful characters that I have no problem believing live in another dimension only she can see. Thank you Ms. Moning!

    ReplyDelete

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