Born to Raise Hell

A Review of Karen Marie Moning's Iced

by Zee the Terrible

We have been waiting on the edge of our seats for Karen Marie Moning's ICED. Desperately. Ever since we greedily devoured Shadowfever. More than a few of us were a little apprehensive about relating to Dani and whether we’d want to read an entire book from her POV, so this was the one that was going to decide whether we were in for her journey through the trilogy or not. We knew we'd be in for an unforgettable new adventure, and I must say, Ms. Moning did not disappoint.

The Wenches on Iced release day!

Iced picks up where Shadowfever leaves us, more or less. The year is 1 AWC, After the Wall Crash. We read about 14-year-old Dani “Mega” O'Malley freeze-framing through the streets of Dublin, battling the Fae with her sword, avoiding Mac, and keeping the citizens of Dublin informed with her newspaper, the Dani Daily.

We are back on familiar ground, but this time we have bigger monsters to be wary of. The Unseelie Princes are free, city and countryside alike are infested with Fae, food supplies are running low, and worst of all, something is freezing humans AND Fae to death in a seemingly random manner. To make matters worse for our heroine, Ryodan seems hell bent on getting her help, in whatever way necessary. Inspector Jayne is still obsessing over obtaining her beloved sword, and she still believes Mac is out for blood (hers). Things couldn’t be more complicated for Dani in Iced. But it was fun reading how this little force of nature navigates her way through the dark, murky, and deadly world around her.

Keep reading for more of our review! It contains mild spoilers, so please read at your own risk!

This Cold Life

Our journey through Iced begins inside Dani’s mind. Some of the Wenches dreaded Dani’s exuberant POV and teen angst, but KMM proved to us that she knows EXACTLY what she is doing, and it didn’t take us long to settle into Dani’s narration. It feels natural, it is detailed, and it provides valuable insight into the workings of her mind. We see just how hard she pushes herself to be all that she can be. She sets goals for herself and constantly tests the limits of her powers. It’s a pleasant surprise to realize how smart Dani is, and to discover that she hides a surprisingly grown-up mind beneath her mantle of annoying teen exuberance. More than anything, her unique POV reveals to the reader the two different faces of Dani: the bloodthirsty warrior determined to slay every last Fae in her city and the innocent child who yearns for acceptance, love, and a place to call home.

We see a lot of the same characters from Shadowfever, along with some new ones that lead to interesting plot developments. KMM sets the stage for a seat-gripping trilogy; by the end, I’m sure we will all be panting for more. New Fae and new evils are introduced, and yet KMM doesn’t go overboard with any of her new additions or leave the reader wondering, “what was that?” The plot flows organically from where we left off at the end Shadowfever and continues seamlessly throughout Iced, despite this being book one in a trilogy that KMM agreed to write after the Fever series had concluded.

Choosing My Own Way of Life

I liked that Dani’s POV was nothing like Mac’s. Mac had a firm grasp of WHO she was (at first) in Darkfever, but not WHAT she was. Dani is the opposite. She knows what she is at this moment in time, a Fae-destroying superhero, but the WHO is a little hazy. She’s still growing up, still realizing things about herself, and still battling emotions that make no sense to her right now. She is oblivious to the gravity of Ryodan’s and Christian’s interest in her and doesn’t recognize its potential pitfalls. Where Mac was overly cautious and wary of Barrons and V’Lane, Dani is less than aware of the danger posed by the men who seek her attentions and the reasons they are forcing their way into her life.

As he mentioned at the end of Shadowfever, Ryodan has a job for Dani. He enlists her (reluctant) help at Chester’s to fix a problem that is quickly spreading across Dublin and beyond. Everybody, Fae and human, is in trouble, and so far nobody has any clue as to what exactly is going on. It’s interesting to see Dani and Ryodan work together. Their interactions are full of snark, anger, and attitude, generating strong feelings that are often confusing and misunderstood. Ryodan didn’t really get on my good side during most of Iced. I found his treatment of Dani a bit much. I also thought Dani’s description of him as an efficient machine was somewhat contradicted by his behavior with certain other characters in the story. But then again, this is the first book in Dani’s trilogy, and there will be plenty of opportunity in the next books to delve more deeply into these characters. Given KMM’s penchant for hidden meanings and surprising revelations, I will wait until the end to decide who I like, who I am willing to forgive, and which version of each character is “real”.

The “crime scenes” were fascinating. I must admit to shivering a little each time I read KMM’s brilliant descriptions of the frozen tableaux. And best of all, I had no clue what could possibly be going on. Something could kill both humans and Fae?!? This was clearly NOT our beloved Fever series. And I love that we were plunked into the middle of a completely new mystery, while still enjoying the familiar version of Dublin that we came to know and love in Fever.

Somebody to Love

The Wenches have been very curious about Dani’s romantic prospects, because even though she’s young now, we know she won’t stay that way forever. She is already a valuable asset and force to be reckoned with in Dublin AWC, and we expect her to attract quite the array of potential suitors and wannabe manipulators as she matures. I was not surprised to see that some familiar faces seem to be quite interested in Dani, though we can’t be sure of their motivations at this point.

Ryodan's intentions are hard for me to pin down. I understand some of his actions, but others had me gripping my book a little too hard and shouting "Nooooo!" out loud. Early on, Christian MacKeltar summarizes his general opinion of Ryodan rather darkly:
“Barrons breaks heads. Ryodan turns them inside out. Barrons fucks you up. Ryodan makes you fuck yourself up. He pushes buttons and rearranges things according to his own private, coolly sociopathic plan.”

Ryodan sees the potential in Dani, and knows that one day she will be one hell of a woman. As Christian observes when he sees Ryodan and Dani working together:

“He knows she's worth waiting for.”

Christian MacKeltar becomes an important part of Dani’s already complicated life. At times we are privy to the inner turmoil and conflict caused by the effects of Mac feeding him Unseelie when they were trapped in the Silvers. We also get a glimpse into his developing fascination with Dani. It’s all a little disturbing, and a little heartbreaking at the same time. I found it hard not to be charmed by the way he sees Dani:
“Everything about her is brilliant and intense...she does everything one hundred and ten percent, with all her heart.”
Christian’s downward spiral into Unseelie insanity was hard to read — who doesn’t love Christian, right? He took turns creeping me out and completely breaking my heart. Fighting a losing battle cannot be easy for someone like him. But I found the insight into Christian’s mind intriguing. Like Ryodan, he sees Dani differently than other people do — he sees beyond her youth and childishness. He thinks the woman she will grow into is worth waiting for.

Last but not least, we finally meet Dani’s dear friend Dancer, whom we first heard about at the end of Shadowfever. I think all the Wenches liked him almost instantly. He’s the perfect partner in crime for Dani, and while I have a bad feeling about his future, KMM creates a delightful partnership between two kids trying to balance the demands of constant vigilance and danger with their teenage hormones and angst. You could almost say he is the only “normal” in Dani’s crazy life. They’re just two kids trying to survive in this war zone by guarding each other’s back. I can’t help but feel there is something more to Dancer that we won’t find out until much later, but for now he is important to Dani. She values him and he values her just as much, and they look out for each other in whatever way they can.

Dancer & Dani's friendship is heartwarming

World Spins Madly On

There has been a lot of concern over this book being Young Adult and the protagonist being too young, but I think KMM does a good job of balancing who Dani is with what she is becoming. She is maturing in front of us, learning and growing into a capable young woman.

Without giving away too much, by the halfway point of the book, we are better acquainted with Chester’s, its clientele, and its employees. The sidhe-seers at the abbey are coming to terms with their losses and dealing with the ramifications of having Cruce trapped in their basement (so to speak). We’ve watched Ryodan convince Dani to help him with the hoar frost, and Inspector Jayne continue to obsess about her sword and his conviction that she should share. We’ve also seen Dani’s ever-reliable powers develop “mood swings,” just like her.

Kat is now the leader of the sidhe-seers and must shoulder the burden of Cruce being imprisoned in the abbey by the Unseelie King. This presents big challenges for her and, at times, I questioned her abilities, but she steps up to the plate and tries to become the leader Rowena never was.

The first part of the book ends at a warehouse, during a very tense moment between all the major players in the story, at which time the unknown entity that is freezing everything finally makes its untimely grand entrance!
Holy fecking crikey, it comes!

Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone

The action kicks into fifth gear once all hell breaks loose at the warehouse, but I think things really change after Jayne takes the sword away from Dani. Suddenly, as a reader, you realize this isn’t fecking child's play. This is serious. And EVERYONE is out for blood. It’s interesting to me how KMM accomplishes this. Because Dani is so young, you almost forget at some points just how terrible and bloodthirsty the world around her is. KMM does not allow you to forget, though, and I loved that.

One of my favorite scenes in Iced occurs during Dani's narration of events in the second half of the book. This scene made me realize two things. One, I love Dani; I find her to be a very earnest and endearing character, which is not how I felt about her in Fever. Two, I have developed a (very recent) love for Lor, which this scene solidifies. He has a deliciously dark sense of humor.

“It happens when I get really excited. The more excited I get, the more I vibrate.”
“Now there’s a thought,” Lor says.
“If you mean what I think you mean, you want to shut the fuck up and never think it again,” Ryodan says.
“Just saying, boss,” Lor says. “You can’t tell me you didn’t think it, too.”
I never understand half of what these dudes are talking about and don’t care. “You can touch me if you want to,” I say to Lor magnanimously. I’m so pumped on adrenaline and excitement that I’m feeling downright sociable. I poke one of my shoulders toward him. “Check me out. It feels really cool.”
All heads swivel my way, then they look back at Ryodan.
“He doesn’t own my fecking shoulder. Why you looking at him?”

More than anything, Dani’s narration impresses upon me her lust for life, how thoroughly she enjoys and relishes every second. I now understand, so completely, Mac’s thoughts on Dani in Faefever, on never wanting anything to happen to her special brand of brightness: “I never wanted to see that exuberant, flippant spark extinguished by my hand, or any other.” It makes perfect sense to me now. I cannot bear the thought of someone breaking her or diluting her, of the world dimming that light, or of death stealing away that glowing personality.

I found it very telling how Ryodan always wants Dani’s observations, her thoughts on the happenings, her opinions on what’s going on. Even after his very competent men tell him their version of events. Makes me wonder just what he knows about her...or suspects. I like that he is willing to place so much weight on her opinion and intellect. While I had my fair share of issues with Ryodan’s treatment of Dani — the Jo thing, chaining and starving her when he knows how she was abused during her early childhood, and LETTING Jayne keep her sword — I’m willing to withhold judgment on him until the next book. If there is anyone on earth who can coax me back onto team Ryo, it’s KMM. For now, his actions just make me realize, Ryodan is SO not Barrons. Where Barrons made sure Mac had the spear to keep her safe, Ryo doesn’t seem to think like that; maybe he thinks she can take care of herself, maybe it just doesn’t cross his mind. Whatever the case, I wasn’t exactly pleased with his behavior. But then, no one will ever be Barrons. And I’m glad KMM made it crystal clear that this is NOT Mac & Barrons.

We see many examples of Dani deliberately masking her smart, somewhat geeky self with bursts of “Dude” and “Feck”.
“Dude,” I add and flash my best street urchin grin at the room in general. “Fecking-A, was it ever cool!” Got to watch my tendency to geek out when I get excited.

I liked this new insight into our brand new female lead. And it was refreshing to see how Ryodan saw beyond her mask and actually LISTENED to her. This child. It really made me realize that this is no ordinary 14-year-old.

A Beautiful Mess

The second half of the book picks up the pace of events; we slowly start to learn what exactly might be going on, with a lot of help from Dani herself. I did like Ryo and Dani’s rapport. They seem to “get” each other on some level. She admires him and his ways of dealing with things, and even thinks to herself how she is learning from him (although she’d die before telling him that). And we get glimpses of Ryodan’s personality, how he’s a little different around Dani when they’re alone, and his sense of humor. They both seem to make each other laugh, albeit sometimes reluctantly. I also love Ryo’s conviction that Dani is going to be “one hell of a woman” someday. I believe it. It makes the whole Christian-and-him-“waiting”-for-her situation easier to swallow. This isn’t some weird, perverted lust thing. They truly believe she will be something epic, someone worth waiting for. And with creatures like those, I guess that’s the best we can hope for right now. Honestly, if you aren’t bothered by a little girl who has been killing since she was 9, the complicated “love” and HEA potential in this story shouldn’t really be a problem because no one is defiling a 14-year-old.

We learn more about Dani, what made her who she is and how she got to this point in time. Her brutal honesty with herself and others is admirable. You can’t help but love her, her sense of humor, her tenacity, her loyalty — the stuff any female lead should be made of. We continue to learn more about her relationships with her fellow sidhe-seers, her mysterious friend Dancer, Christian, and her association with Ryodan and his men.

While I could go on about Dani (and believe me, I can — so much personality so little time), there are other characters whose POVs also reveal other occurrences in Dublin. Kat is dealing with new developments in the Cruce issue, scheming by Margery (the power-hungry sidhe-seer who wants to replace Kat), and an IFP that moves closer to the abbey every minute — heavy burdens to shoulder as the young, unseasoned grand mistress of the sidhe-seers. It was interesting to get an inside view of the sidhe-seers’ world, as opposed to what we knew from Mac’s very limited POV in the Fever books. And there are several encounters between the sidhe-seers, Ryodan, and his men, which make for engaging and entertaining reading.

I loved the introduction of new, big, bad, evil beings in this book. I don’t want to spoil the new players on the board for you, but KMM is at her best when it comes to creating monsters in her books. Scary Fae books and relics, increasingly inventive forms of Unseelie repulsiveness, and THE big bad that no one can begin to understand, or even (usually) live to try to explain. There are some memorable moments of fright and dread that might cause you to sleep with your nightlight turned on.

Everything in its Right Place

The most amazing thing about Iced for me was that everything in this book felt natural, it didn’t make me feel uncomfortable about anything. I like it when fiction does that. It takes me completely out of “real life” and engrosses me in another world that seems equally real, if not larger than life. By the end of this book, I was begging for more! Just one more line! Paragraph! Something! I didn’t want to leave Dani’s Dublin behind. Ms. Moning has a way of making me desperate for her next piece of work, and making it next to impossible to move on to another book. The Wenches and I will be counting down the days to the next Dani “Mega” O’Malley book! We cannot wait to read more about Dani, Ryodan, Christian, Dancer, the sidhe-seers, the monsters, and Lor!

The Wenches rated it:

What about you? How did you like Iced ? What were your thoughts on Dani as a lead? Share your thoughts below!


  1. I loved Iced. It really exceeded my expectations. If I were to make one criticism, it would be that whenever the scene cut to the abbey, it really took my head out of the story. Except at the end when all the players were there, that is.

    I'm really looking forward to the next book. I liked being in Dani's head much more than I thought I would. I hope that Cruce escapes soon. He'll be a force to be reckoned with.

  2. Loved this review. Great work Margo and Zee. It really captured the essense of the novel and broke it down. I might have to get in on some of the Lor action. I loved the vibrate quote and Ryo's reaction. Lor was winding Ryo up for sure. I enjoyed Dani a hell of a lot more than Mac. I loved her lust for life. Agree with you Donna. The abbey stuff was a bit boring until the final scenes. It kind of stuttered the pace of the book. I so what Cruce to escape. I think that might be fun if he causes mayhem. Love how the abbey residents kept peeking at him in all his naked glory.

    1. You know what KMM said about Cruce "What's the point of having him captured if not to have him get free?" :D

  3. I really enjoyed Iced too. I liked Dani's POV so much that I missed it when it changed to someone else's. (There were a couple of times when the abrupt POV change with no visual cue had me scratching my head for a minute.) That was a delightful surprise. I enjoyed the new insight into Ryo and Lor, and Dani of course, and my heart aches for poor Christian. I'm curious about Dancer and agree there's something we don’t know about him.

    LOL, Donna! I read where KMM said in New Orleans that "What's the point of having him captured if not to have him get free?" But I'm a little concerned for the well-being of my favorite characters when that happens!

    I particularly enjoyed the humor in this book. I laughed out loud a lot. Dani, Ryo, and Lor are hilarious.

  4. Great review ladies! I really enjoyed Iced. I had some trouble getting into it in the beginning, but once the story lines started to become clear, I really got into it. I was thoroughly irritated by Dani in Fever, but I grew to like her quite a bit in this book.

    Christian! ::Swoon::

    I'm sure it will come as a shock, I quite enjoyed Lor and thought Ryo was ok.

    I enjoyed Kat's POV, but I agree with Donna, that it took me out of the world a little. And, I have a bad feeling about Sean. Their story is just too good to be true.

    1. Thanks Anne!

      Lor was the love of my Iced life :p I want one! But dammit, he seems to prefer busty blonds. Woe is me.

  5. Wonderful review,you did so good without telling too much.The story brought me back to Dublin and the Fever world,loved every minute of it.

    1. Thanks Merit! Glad you liked it!! Tried to keep spoilers to a minimum!

  6. Amazing job, Margaux and Zee! Reading your review makes me want to go back and read it again, and if it weren't for Ryodan, I might have. Thanks, but no thanks, for the moment. I had had my fair share of a Ryodan doing nothing else than being an ass, a douche and a complete jerk.

    He is not Barrons. Not even close. He was conflicting, abusive and just full of it. Not a fan of his. Not me and not in this book.
    But somehow I'm pretty sure he's the end game and I know KMM will make make me look at him with different eyes by the end of the trilogy. But until then, "I hate you Ryodan!"

    Dani on the other hand was more than I expected in this book. She had a terrible childhood but she left (or at least she pretended she did) it behind and grew stronger. Way to go, Dani. She is so intelligent, but barricades her keen brain behind a wall of sarcasm, mutilated English and lots and lots of "dude" and "feck".

    Dancer is good. So good. Too good. Not going to happen. He's fishy.

    Christian lost his marbles and I hate him for blaming Barrons AND Mac for what has happened to him, and I hope KMM had thought about something wonderful for his future. He deserves it. Christian, honey, I'm right here. Any time you're ready you know where to find me. I don't mind becoming an Unseelie Princess, ya know.

    But what I really appreciated was the obvious difference between Mac/Barrons and Dani/Mr. Dani's Suitor. This is Dublin, this is the same Fever world, but this IS NOT FEVER.

  7. I haven't finished reading ICED yet, but I'll be back when I do! Looking forward to catching up on all the discussion!

  8. Oh, and I peeked at the gifs, and now I want to know what I missed! The Dani pic is awesome too!

  9. I loved it, loved it, loved! And I wasn't really expecting to love it. It left me so emotionally drained afterwards. I couldn't stop thinking about it in between readins and I still can't now that I finished it.

    "If there is anyone on earth who can coax me back onto team Ryo, it’s KMM" -EXACTLY!!! I absolutely hated Ryo's behavior in this book. He made my stomach hurt, but I know KMM will somehow turn 90% of it around. She is amazing like that. I do have to wonder if some of his actions were caused by him losing control over his breast.

    1. Glad you loved Iced too Krista!! I love that about KMM's work, it completely possesses you even after you are done!

      I'm sure some of his actions were because of his beast. Like the time he was trying to feed her the jello, and Lor is like "you go do what you have to" which was the first time we saw him "with" Jo... but doesn't mean I like it!

  10. Great review! I just finished Iced, and I LOVED it. I struggled with the first 30% for some reason. However, after that, it flew! I have much to say about Ryodan, but I can sum it up by saying I am shipping Dani/Ryo. I'm really in awe of how KMM made me love this book against all odds. I've been missing Mac & Barrons like crazy, but I didn't miss them while reading this book. Fecking amazing!

    1. Thanks Amanda :) and yeah, while I liked Christian more, I have feeling Ryo is "the one".


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