***I was granted permission to read this by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Chronicle Books!***
***As always mild spoilers may follow***
Pub date:6 May 2014
Genre:Young Adult Fiction, Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal
Format:ARC provided by the publisher
Status:Book one of The Falconer series
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?
I can’t remember exactly how I stumbled across Elizabeth May on Twitter last summer, but I’m glad it happened. It was before The Falconer came out in the UK and ages before ARCs were due out here. I mulled over the idea of preordering a UK copy, but talked myself out of it. Boy, that was a mistake. Luckily, I scored an e-ARC on Edelweiss. Second mistake was waiting til a month before the release date to read it. At least my review is going up just a day before the release date so you don’t have to wait long to get your hands on this great book!
The Falconer is the full monty for me. Kickass heroine, historical fiction, snarkiness, swoon worthy guys, steampunk goodies, and chock full of Scottish faery lore. Plus it takes place in one of my favourite cities EVAR. Not just ever, completely favourite EVAR. I absolutely love Edinburgh. I could rant and rave about my love for Edinburgh for ages.
The Falconer opens a little over a year after our heroine Aileana’s mother was murdered in front of her by a faery. She had long believed the tales of the fae to be false, but finds herself thrust into the middle of a long struggle between the fae and humans. She also reenters society surrounded by the gossip that she is the one who murdered her mother. A lot to handle for a prim and proper Victorian debutante.
I think Elizabeth did a fantastic job on character growth with Aileana. She shows growth on two fronts. The Falconer is in first person, so we get to see Aileana’s inner monologue comparing herself past and present. We also get to see how she grows once she realises what she was born to be – the Falconer. There is a large emphasis on character development and I absolutely love it. I love when an author takes equal care of fleshing out a character as well as having an ever deepening intriguing plot. I love human characters who drive the plot as much as the plot can move itself.
Along with a kickass main character, she is supported by strong secondary characters. Since we are limited to seeing them through Aileana’s eyes, we only get to see so much of their development, but they are fleshed out magnificently. Best friend Charlotte struggles with her beliefs as they’re surrounded by rumours and she also has everything she thinks she knows is true shattered. I can’t wait to see what her involvement will be in two. She has plenty room to grow. Kiaran is one surprise after another. My feelings for him mirrored Aileana’s (which probably results from interpreting it through her perspective). I laughed, I growled, I gasped, I teared up. I’m so excited to see where the action picks up in two!
Derrick is a bit of comic relief, or so it feels to me. I adored Derrick even when Aileana got rather annoyed with him. I’m hoping with him we will get to see more pixie action in two!
I loved the grounding effect Gavin had on Aileana. I think they are well suited together. Despite being an important character, I feel like he didn’t fully reach his potential. I think this means he will have plenty of growth in two. I have a feeling he will play a much larger role as well. I’m excited about that!
The world building was truly spectacular. Having been to Edinburgh, it was easy for me to visualise exactly where the action was going down, but the way Elizabeth paints the picture, it’s easy to see Edinburgh the way she wants you to see it. I loved the addition of steampunk. I haven’t read much steampunk, but this was easy technology to understand. It also added depth to the story.
It was fascinating and eerie to read the ending battle scene as a full moon and total eclipse was about to occur. Haha. The eclipse plays a huge role in the ending cliffhanger and I think having one happen while I read it added a lot to my experience.
I will have to admit to not knowing as much faery lore of my ancestral home as I would like (I plan on rectifying this soon thanks to The Falconer!). I really enjoyed getting to see how faeries were shown to be like humans in that not all are strictly good or bad. Don’t make the mistake of thinking they are human though! It is a struggle for Aileana to remember that. While being a faery lore novel, I feel that the interaction between the fae and Aileana is nothing to what it will be in book two after the action building and cliffhanger ending!
The action scenes were executed beautifully. I’m never a fan of cliffhangers in a new series because I hate waiting for the next installment. Let me tell you how this one hit me — I’m totally ordering the UK version of two so I don’t have to wait as long to see what happens! The action kept building through the whole book and by the end, I was squirming in my seat because I couldn’t be still because it felt like I was there. Elizabeth did such an incredible job.I definitely think she’s one of my new favourite authors! I highly recommend this fantastic debut series if you are a fan of historical fiction, steampunk fiction, or faery lore.
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