Written by: Elizabeth May
Published by: Chronicle Books
Release date: May 6th 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult
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Heiress. Debutant. Murderer. A new generation of heroines has arrived.
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 round 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?
There’s so much to love about The Falconer. SO MUCH. I enjoyed this book immensely, and I had very high expectations for it. I’ve been wanting a kickass story with faeries for a long time, and after some disappointments along the way, I think I can safely say I’ve found my new favorite fae-centric series. It doesn’t come without a few issues, but I had such a good time with this book, I still loved it.
Aileana is a lady of high society who, until a year ago, was perfectly content with her life. But after her mother is murdered by a faery (obviously not of the Tinkerbell-variety), she wants nothing but revenge on the evil creatures who killed her mother.
Thanks to Kiaran — a faery himself, but bent on destroying the evil faeries in and around Edinburgh — Aileana learns how to hunt, fight, and kill these dangerous creatures herself. Her nights are spent teaming up with Kiaran for their hunting/training sessions, and her days are spent trying to deal with her increasingly frustrating high-society life.
Aileana and Kiaran
The Falconer is super addictive and just… tons of fun. It starts off with a bang, with Aileana having to kill an evil faery during a ball — and this awesome dichotomy of her high society life and her life as a faery-hunter lasts throughout the book. I never found there to be a dull or uninteresting moment. I loved Aileana — her ferocity, her independence, and her desire to be able to take care of herself. Hunting the faeries that threaten Edinburgh gives Aileana new purpose, and training with Kiaran makes her realize the confines women are put into in this society, and she realizes more and more that that life is not for her.
Kiaran himself… is kind of awesome. I don’t think anyone could get through this book without at least being a little intrigued by Kiaran, if not totally head-over-heels for him. I am definitely the latter. ;) He’s a fairly familiar sort of character — emotionally-closed-off, enigmatic, otherworldly…. But Kiaran is really well-done for all that he isn’t terribly surprising in this book. There’s still a lot that we don’t know about him (but I have a feeling the sequel will more than deliver on that count!). In The Falconer, I loved those moments when you get to see through Kiaran’s facades, past the walls that he’s built around himself — and boy, does Kiaran have walls.
As for Kiaran and Aileana… I ship it so hard. Their chemistry from the beginning was obvious, but I loved that that neither of them wanted to open up to the other at first. Aileana, though attracted to Kiaran, never lets herself actually fall for him until she starts to see some of the cracks in his emotional armor; and Kiaran is the same — he doesn’t really start to open up much until Aileana starts sharing more about herself with him. Though they have chemistry like woah throughout the book, neither of them acts on it or wants to act on it until they both start opening up about their pasts and sharing bits of their history with each other. I really appreciated this — finally, a believable progression from chemistry, to learning about one other, to relationship; rather than chemistry to relationship to oh-I-guess-we-should-talk-about-ourselves-now.
Catherine, Gavin, and Derrick
The secondary characters were also great. Aileana’s best friend, Catherine, is a constant presence throughout the book, even though she doesn’t know Aileana’s secret. Aileana is forced to be vague with her, but Catherine is such a wonderful friend, and she supports Aileana despite the secrets. I also liked that it seemed like Catherine kept Aileana from really looking down on the ladies who enjoy their society-lives… Aileana was happy in that life at one point, too, and I think it’s important that even when Aileana decides that that life isn’t for her, she also doesn’t think Catherine is shallow or whatever, for being happy in her life.
Gavin, Catherine’s brother, is another character I loved. I thought there was going to be a real love triangle between Gavin and Aileana and Kiaran, but thank goodness I was wrong. Gavin is a great friend for Aileana, and at one point probably would have been a good match for her, but… well, stuff happens, and I don’t want to spoil anything. Suffice it to say, if you’re wary of love triangles, don’t be scared of The Falconer. It’s handled well in this one. ;)
Finally, as for secondary characters, there’s Derrick, Aileana’s pixie friend, who lives in her closet and mends her clothes after she comes back from a hunt. At first he definitely struck me as a comic-relief type character, who I loved, but didn’t really play a huge role. But as the book goes on, the friendship he and Aileana have is just so sweet, and he made my heart melt a couple of times, not gonna lie. I love Derrick to death. (Also he has a tendency to get “drunk” on the honey Aileana gives him in payment for mending her clothes. It’s adorable and hilarious.) XD
A few issues…
As great as this book was, I did have a couple of issues.
The steampunk aspects of this alternate-Edinburgh were really fun and cool, but they felt a little unorganic sometimes, if that makes sense. I liked them, but at the same time, there wasn’t really a richness or comprehensive feeling to this steampunk-Edinburgh overall, so the added details of Steampunk Stuff just sort of seemed like little sparkly distractions. Definitely fun, but not quite everything I wanted them to be.
Additionally, the ending… *sigh* I knew this was the first book in a series, so I was expecting the ending to be a cliffhanger, or at least obviously open for a sequel. What I wasn’t expecting was for the tension at the end to start intensifying, for the action to be steadily amping up… and then for the book to just end. In the middle of an action scene. I have a lot of issues with this type of ending: One, this ending doesn’t let the reader feel any sort of closure upon finishing the book. I don’t care that it’s not a standalone, that another book is coming — a book should have an ending, a conclusion, and this doesn’t feel like one. Two, it just… feels like a cop-out. Ending a book in the middle of an action scene for a “cliffhanger” effect is just annoying. It doesn’t make me freak out and need the next book, it just gives me a “What just happened?? Where’s the rest of that chapter??” feel, and that’s not fun. Additionally — the blurb for the sequel actually gives away everything that should’ve happened in the end of The Falconer, so… there’s that tension dispelled in a few short sentences. Ehhhhhh. It’s just so completely anti-climactic and grrrrrrrr. Sorry, I’m devolving into annoyed noises, but that’s pretty much the best way to sum up my feelings. Argh. XP
I really really enjoyed this book!! I had a couple issues that affected my final outlook, including the fact that the book just ends in the middle of a scene. But the rest of the book really did make up a whole lot, and I can safely say that I have found my new favorite Faery series. XD If you’re looking for a book with a kickass heroine, swoony (and well-done) romance, and just… lots of awesomeness… pick up The Falconer. You might be a little miffed at the ending, like I was — but in my opinion, it’s worth it. I’m so excited for the sequel.