If you follow Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series, then you know that we step away from the spinoff that was Iced and return to the world (and viewpoint) of main character MacKayla Lane in the seventh book, Burned. It carries a unique pacing that I’ve come to expect from this author, and it continues to tie in the Highlander series (think sexy Scottish time travel with druids). Burned felt like a re-framing of Iced – which continued in the same world with a different heroine, who just happened to be 14) as a means to set up the remaining story utilizing the fan favorite characters and re-vamping Dani (said heroine from Iced). Confused? If you are, I wouldn’t be surprised. There is a lot going on, especially for those that are not as familiar with the series. That said, Burned is an interesting addition that grabbed and held my attention until the very last page.
MacKayla Lane would do anything to save the home she loves. A gifted sidhe-seer, she’s already fought and defeated the deadly Sinsar Dubh—an ancient book of terrible evil—yet its hold on her has never been stronger.
When the wall that protected humans from the seductive, insatiable Fae was destroyed on Halloween, long-imprisoned immortals ravaged the planet. Now Dublin is a war zone with factions battling for control. As the city heats up and the ice left by the Hoar Frost King melts, tempers flare, passions run red-hot, and dangerous lines get crossed. Seelie and Unseelie vie for power against nine ancient immortals who have governed Dublin for millennia; a rival band of sidhe-seers invades the city, determined to claim it for their own; Mac’s former protégé and best friend, Dani “Mega” O’Malley, is now her fierce enemy; and even more urgent, Highland druid Christian MacKeltar has been captured by the Crimson Hag and is being driven deeper into Unseelie madness with each passing day. The only one Mac can depend on is the powerful, dangerous immortal Jericho Barrons, but even their fiery bond is tested by betrayal.
It’s a world where staying alive is a constant struggle, the line between good and evil is blurred, and every alliance comes at a price. In an epic battle against dark forces, Mac must decide who she can trust, and what her survival is ultimately worth.
Burned brings the Fever series back to its roots by re-instating MacKayla as the heroine. MacKayla is comfortable and familiar, and I think it received a warm (hehe!) reception from fans. The prior book, Iced, took an established dark, sexy series of well-known characters and attempted to install a hyper-active young teen (Dani) as the protagonist. From my approximation, that change was not exactly well-met by fans. I will admit that I thought Dani was a hoot. This implacable and energetic youngster that faced so much adversity (according to Burned, it was even more than we knew), and yet this kid still managed to shine. A comparison of the two heroines just isn’t fair. I think the injustice was expectation related. Fans were used to getting the dark & sexy with snarky MacKayla (“Mac”), and this 14 year old just didn’t get us to that point.
Anywho, Burned picks up where Iced left off, though there are incongruities and inconsistencies with timing, as happens when the Fae are involved. Mac and Dani have a moment, then we follow Mac as she attempts to solve things. (There are a lot of “things” to be solved and they are all intertwined.) I couldn’t help but revisit my issues with the selfish point of view that is intrinsic to Mac. I get it, but it wears on me. She internalizes every conflict, and she appeared to be stuck in some sort of stasis. I don’t know maybe I just wanted to see more growth from her. Dani, on the other hand, was so dynamic and complex. I think we lost some of that in Burned. The big plot twist left me a little sad but hopeful. We will certainly see more of Dani, but I’m not sure what iteration that will take. (Side note – I consider an awesome feat by the author when readers get so wrapped up in the characters. Clearly, I love these characters and feel some sort of reader-ly connection.)
These beloved characters end up involved in such a convoluted plot that I had to re-read and go back and check things. Some of those plot elements were great, but some just left me really confused. There were tons of inside jokes/Easter eggs that new readers would not have a clue about (and some references left me scratching my head for a day or two). We have a post-apocalyptic world that needs order. Some new developments that indicate things will get worse. An imprisoned prince, a kidnapped prince, crime syndicates, and ancient beings are either going to fully destroy the world or begin to rebuild it. In the middle of all of this, Mac is sad that her life is hard. Clearly, I’m over simplifying, but that is the gist. AND I’m leaving out some of the other factions involved in this crazy landscape.
Overall, I would definitely recommend Burned to a fan of the Fever series (regardless of how they felt about Iced). It brings us back to the characters we’ve come to love in the aftermath of Dublin’s meltdown. Lots of action, some sadness with not much joy, but Burned ends on a note of hope. Hope for the characters, hope for some resolutions, and hope that a beloved series has once again found its stride.