Moribund

Moribund was written by Genevieve Iseult Eldredge and first published in 2017. It is an urban fantasy story about two fae princesses battling to stop a monstrous plague from being unleashed on the world. The novel forms the first part of the Circuit Fae series and its sequel is planned for release in March of next year.

Following a terrible train accident, Syl Skye has found herself as somewhat of a social recluse. Her former friend and rescuer Fiann has become a local hero and media darling, while Syl is merely known as the girl who survived. However, her memories of that night are vague at best and she can’t get the faint memory of another girl – one with dazzling eyes – from her mind.

Syl does not realise that the derailing was no accident. Former dark fae princess, Rouen, has been stripped of her title and forced to become a sluagh huntress – dead to her people and forced to obey the every command of her master, Agravaine. In order to purify their dying home world, Rouen has been forced to hunt down and kill all of the sleeper princesses of the fair fae. Unfortunately for Syl, she is the last.

However, the two girls quickly find that they are irresistibly drawn to one another. Rouen cannot defy Agravaine’s direct commands but she knows that she has to find a way to teach Syl to control her powers. However, Agravaine has a terrible power of his own – a plague known as the Moribund that merges circuitry and dark magic to control its host. When Agravaine unleashes the Moribund on the school, Syl and Rouen know that they must find a way to stop him. If they don’t, it could mean the end of everyone that Syl cares about…

I really, really wanted to like Moribund. When I heard about this novel a few months ago, I thought that it sounded like an amazing concept. I love urban fantasy novels and it’s been ages since I last reviewed a story with a lesbian protagonist. Unfortunately, it quickly became clear to me that Moribund and I just weren’t going to get along.

Let’s begin with the positive. The concept behind the novel does show a lot of promise. While it draws its inspiration from fae lore – the idea of two opposing factions embodying light and darkness – Eldredge does add a unique spin on things through the addition of the Moribund. The plague takes the form of a swarming mass of black circuits that attach themselves to a host, splicing through their flesh and slowly consuming them until only machine is left. It’s a grisly and striking idea, blending technology and magic into a very unique bio-mechanical horror. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel as though the author utilised this very efficiently within the story.

While the Moribund sounds interesting in theory, I was never clear on exactly how it functioned. Rouen described it as an ancient magic, but how old can it be if it’s based around circuitry? From what we see of the dark fae in the story, they don’t seem to be that technologically advanced. I also didn’t really understand how the Moribund spread. I assumed at first that it was contact based due to the fact the Rouen kept her infected arm covered, yet later it seemed as though special weapons were required to inject it into people.

I did find this to be a bit disappointing as, if you strip the Moribund out of the tale, the story becomes quite generic. Within the novel, Syl is a huge fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and makes frequent ironic reference to how things that she experiences are similar to what you would expect from an episode of the show. This, for me, was a big problem. This wasn’t actually all that ironic. The novel did read a bit too much like an episode of Buffy. Even the dark fae, with their luminous eyes and sharp fangs, were a lot like vampires. They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, however it doesn’t really help to make a novel stand out.

However, my biggest problems with the novel came in the form of its structure. Moribund was a bit of an exhausting read, but it really shouldn’t have been. You could half the length of the story if you removed the constant exposition and repetition. Be prepared to hear Rouen wax lyrical about how she is a dark fae sluagh, that her peoples’ hearthstone is dying, and that Agravaine has the power to control her movements through a contract of blood and bone. This is sometimes repeated multiple times within the same chapter.

As you may have realised by now, I don’t like novels that persist in info-dumping. Authors are always advised to show, and not to tell. Readers are not stupid and are more than capable of remembering something that happened three pages before. Nothing causes a reader’s mind to wander more than constant repetition of “important” information. It’s just far too heavy-handed.

I also didn’t think that the narrators – Syl and Rouen – were very distinct. The protagonists narrate alternate chapters in first person, yet both of their voices sounded exactly the same. This was true even down to the odd dialect that they used, which included phrases like “fiddly-farting” and “woojy”.

My problem with this is twofold. Firstly, do teenagers actually even say words like these? I’m not sure where this novel is supposed to be set. I would have guessed America, but I personally feel that phrases like “jerking off”, “messing around” or even “f@%$ing around” would sound more natural than “fiddly-farting” if this was the case. Second was the fact that I sometimes forgot who was actually narrating. This was really frustrating as I could understand the need for two narrators in this instance, yet both girls were so similar that they felt like the same person.

In terms of character, Moribund also lacked subtlety. There were no shades of grey in this story as all characters were either totally good or totally evil. Agravaine’s plan was based around some particularly flimsy motivation that basically boiled down to lust for power. Similarly, Fiann was just a stuck-up cow. Head cheerleader, rich, untouchable – I’m sure you can imagine the sort. The story didn’t even try to make you empathise with her – she was just awful from start to finish.

The two protagonists were also problematic. Both were absurdly overpowered and never truly looked as though they could ever fail. Although Rouen spends most of the novel training Syl, we never really see any of it. Any scene that shows the two of them bonding is rushed over, with huge chunks of the school year flashing by in the space of a few pages. Due to this, their relationship is purely insta-love. There is no build up and little tension. They simply fall in love with each other at first sight, even though Rouen is trying to murder Syl at the time.

So, to conclude, this is not a novel that I would recommend. It seemed promising from the blurb but was just too repetitive and populated with flat, generic characters. I may look at its sequel in a future review, but I’m certainly not in any hurry to.

Moribund can be purchased as a Paperback and eBook on Amazon.co.uk

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© Kim Dyer and Arkham Reviews, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kim Dyer and Arkham Reviews with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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