Review: Kingdom of Shadow and Light (Fever #11) by Karen Marie Moning

I only found out this book existed almost a year after it had been released, so I just waited for the paperback release and bought that. I also didn’t realise that this book was the last in the series until I had finished reading it, or all of the health struggles that Karen Marie Moning went through during the process of writing Kingdom of Shadow and Light. On reflection though, it is a good way to end the series, and I’m glad I picked it up. Standard disclaimers apply, don’t read this book without reading the previous entries, it will not make sense, and you will ruin the series for yourself.

I actually like this cover, it took me a small while to understand the in-book reference it was making, but there is one. It’s also beautiful, and I think captures the tone well

MacKayla Lane faces the ultimate threat when war breaks out between the kingdoms of shadow and light, as the #1 New York Times bestselling Fever series races to an explosive revelation.

From the moment MacKayla Lane arrived in Dublin to hunt her sister’s murderer, she’s had to fight one dangerous battle after the next: to survive, to secure power, to keep her city safe, to protect the people she loves.

The matter of who’s good and who’s evil can be decided by the answer to a single question: Whose side are you on?

Now, as High Queen of the Fae, Mac faces her greatest challenge yet: ruling the very race she was born to hunt and kill – a race that wants her dead yesterday, so they can put a pure-blooded Fae queen on the throne.

But challenges with her subjects are the least of her concerns when an ancient, deadly foe resurfaces, changing not only the rules of the game but the very game itself, initiating a catastrophic sequence of events that have devastating consequences and leave Mac questioning everything she’s ever learned and everyone she’s ever loved. Now begins an epic battle between Mortal and Fae, Seelie and Unseelie, would-be kings and would-be queens, with possession of the Unseelie King’s virtually unlimited power and the fate of humanity at stake.

From the exquisite, deadly gardens of the High Queen’s court, to long-forgotten truths found in the Sacred Grove of Creation, from the erotic bed of her enigmatic, powerful lover to the darkest, seductive reaches of the Unseelie kingdom, Mac’s final journey takes her places no human has been before, and only one human could possibly survive…One who’s willing to sacrifice everything.

Okay, I’m going to get my complaints out of the way up front (not that there’s many of them) so we can focus on what I think this book did well. Basically, I felt that some plotlines were rehashings of old events, and some storylines seemed a little obvious/wrapped up a bit too easily. I did like where everything ended up, and I’m glad there was a conclusive ending to some of the difficulties/struggles certain characters went through. However, because the <i>Fever</i> series is so long, and the characters so realistic, having some of the long-running storylines just click to fix seemed trite—ironically, even though this is the way a lot of problems work in real life. You work for ages to fix something, seemingly getting nowhere, only to have one tiny shift happen that makes the whole pay-off come at once. To be honest, this may have been intentional on Karen Marie Moning’s part, because Mac’s journey has definitely been one of self-improvement, her persistence, moral code, and awareness of her own values ultimately what brings her success. That being said (last fluctuation, I swear!) there’s a certain moment of unforeshadowed precogniscience in this book that I was fairly annoyed by.

I really enjoyed the way expectations in this book were (at times) subverted. There are several big twists at the end of the novel that I thought were foreshadowed well, and that I enjoyed. Grumbling about some of the quick solutions aside, the way Karen Marie Moning took the time to carefully tie off all of the loose threads from previous novels was appreciated, and the promise from Darkfever was delivered on. It’s a love story. Not in a trite, romance-cures-all-ills way. But where you see Mackayla gradually deal with her grief to grow and learn to fight for all of the people, places and things that she loves. It’s a lot bigger than that, but I appreciated that her love story with Barrons is not the entire motivation for her actions, and in this book in particular he takes a back seat.

I did think it was a little strange how several characters were (metaphorically) iced in this book, but as always, with a long-running series of strong personalities, there just isn’t time for everyone to weigh in a situation, so I do understand the need for some characters to be taken out of commission.

I can’t say much more without giving away plot points, and especially with this being the finale of the series, I’d hate to ruin eleven books worth of pay-off. So instead I’ll reiterate my warning to read the rest of the series first, but I’d recommend the series to people who enjoyed Kim Harrison’s Hollows series, Lisa Shearin’s Raine Benares series, or Jeaniene Frost’s Night Hunter books.

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