Thursday, May 1, 2014

ARC Review: The Falconer - Elizabeth May

The Falconer by Elizabeth May
Series: The Falconer #1
Genre: YA, historical fantasy, steampunk
Published on May 6, 2014
Published by Chronicle Books
Pages: 336
Read From: 4.18.14 - 4.20.14

Edinburgh, Scotland, 1844 
Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, was destined for a life carefully planned around Edinburgh's social events - right up until a faery killed her mother. 
Now it's the 1844 winter season and Aileana slaughters faeries in secret, in between the endless of parties, tea and balls. Armed with modified percussion pistols and explosives, she sheds her aristocratic facade every night to go hunting. She's determined to track down the faery who murdered her mother, and to destroy any who prey on humans in the city's many dark alleyways. 
But the balance between high society and her private war is a delicate one, and as the fae infiltrate the ballroom and Aileana's father returns home, she has decisions to make. How much is she willing to lose - and just how far will Aileana go for revenge?


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? I have mixed feelings about it. I like the color scheme and the dagger, but I have started to dislike cover art featuring a knife-wielding female because of what sort of story usually ensues. At least we can't really see her face.

Characters: When I started The Falconer, I went in prepared to hate Aileana, like every other "I can take care of myself; I don't need a man" female protagonist who then goes all swoony over the first guy she meets. However, Aileana dodges falling into this category - but only just. She has a temper, but her explosions of anger were consistent; they didn't just happen. She knew how to hold her own in a fight, and she did know how to maintain social graces. . . .when she wanted to. Which wasn't very often. Societal graces have always been stupid, but is it really that hard to have a female protagonist who can kick butt and curtsy? Without kicking up a fuss every time? Derrick, the pixie that lives in Aileana's wardrobe, was adorable. I hated his name, but he was cute. I only hope his quips and comic relief doesn't get old as the trilogy progresses. I didn't know what I thought of Kiaran at first. But as the story continued, I did grow to like him. He's a very interesting character; quiet, mysterious, a complicated background. I just didn't approve of him as a love interest. He was awesome, but he wasn't trustworthy, and Aileana knew this - better than anyone. Gavin, Catherine's brother and Aileana's old crush, was my favorite male character. He was always there for Aileana, looking out for her, waiting to help her.

The Romance: And now on to a topic that I thought I would have a lot more to say about. There is a love triangle, but it's surprisingly short lived. It could resurface later - in fact, I'm anticipating it. But in The Falconer, it isn't as invasive as I thought it would be. Granted, I don't understand why Aileana had a hard time - however brief - choosing between Gavin and Kiaran. Gavin is stable, trustworthy, and always there for her. Kiaran isn't. He's a good friend; he's taught her how to hunt faery and survive. But he isn't marriage material. Her falling for Kiaran just made her look foolish.

Plot: Everyone thinks Aileana killed her mother that fateful night at her coming-out ball. But Aileana knows the truth; she saw the faery woman tear out her mother's heart and kill her. Now, a year later, Aileana hunts the fey, killing any and all who prey on humans. But she's really looking for only one faery - the one who killed her mother. She uses her nightly hunts to train, to hone her skills and test out her newest inventions - all in preparation to fave the one faery she has no hope of killing, but whose death matters the most. But Aileana's quest for revenge is no longer important, when she discovers that the seal keeping the fey locked underneath Edinburgh is weakening. Increasingly dangerous faery have been stalking the streets, and now they know that Aileana isn't just a girl hunting faeries - but a Falconer. Born and bred to hunt. On top of these worries is her father's increasing pressure to marry, so she can at last clear her sullied name. It's more than one society flame can handle, but handle it Aileana must. Or break trying. I really enjoyed the plot itself. Since the romance actually takes something of a backseat, the majority of the book is enjoyable. There's battles and awesome steampunk gadgets and faery creatures that are downright terrifying. I really loved the Author's rendition of the fey; they are something of which to be afraid. Aileana's scrapes are, thank goodness, not mostly due to her own stupid mistakes. The major mistake she makes is hunting on her own - without Kiaran - but maybe Kiaran should have told her why it was so important that she not go off on her own! The world building was done fairly well, I thought. We're presented with an Edinburgh that we know - and yet don't. It's a steampunk Edinburgh, and it's awesome. The gadgets alone make this book worth reading.

Believability: Human-slaughtering faeries, women born to superior strength and healing, steampunk gadgets - I suppose I can't gripe too much about historical inaccuracy, can I? And to be fair to the Author, she actually did a good job with what historical accuracy she used.

Writing Style: First person, present tense. No, I didn't care for the present tense. But the dialogue was somewhat fitting for the era. I got tired of Aileana saying "blast" and griping about skirts and corsets. And a pronunciation guide for the Scottish Gaelic would have been a heaven-send.

Content: None beyond violence.

Conclusion: That has got to be the meanest cliffhanger I have ever read! Oh, that was just horrible! Even if I had disliked this book, I think I would read the sequel just because of the cliffhanger. The Falconer was something of a surprise. Yeah, Aileana has some irritating - and cliche - isms, and there is a love triangle. But there are a lot more pros than cons, and this book could have been so much worse. Will the sequels be any good? We'll see where the romance goes.

Recommended Audience: Girl-read, seventeen-and-up, great for fans of faery fiction and steampunk. 


  1. Good to know it's not as horrible as we feared it might be :) I really do love the premise of it, I mean, it's kind of all my favorite things mashed up into one, the only thing that would make it better is a male protagonist :P

    1. Yes, a male protagonist would be better, but we're stick with Aileana. Her mechanical tendencies also help to make her much more tolerable than I thought she would be. I don't know that she'll stay tolerable as the trilogy progresses - in fact, I'm sure she won't - but THE FALCONER, at least, is worth reading.

    2. Yeah. that's probably true, or it usually is. Love the new look by the way :)

  2. I've read a lot of glowing reviews about this one, but if the cliffhanger is that mean, I may wait until book 2 is out to give it a try. Thanks for the great review! :)

    1. I would be wary of the glowing reviews, because I suspect your patience with Aileana may be a lot less than mine. ;) She borderlines being a typical female protagonist; I was just glad she didn't whine, that she could fight, and that she was mechanically inclined. But I suspect her temper will get old by Book #2 - and very quickly at that. As for the love triangle . . . I don't know. I don't trust it.


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