Author: Elizabeth May
Series: The Falconer #1
Date: September 2013
Source: ARC from publisher
Genres: Historical Fiction, Paranormal
Buy the Book • Goodreads
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?
If you think you’ve read too many faerie books, well, think again because there’s one book that’s an absolutely must read this year. The Falconer is the freshest, most well-crafted story I’ve read in a while, faeries or not. You will be delighted to enter Lady Aileana Kameron’s gritty, steampunky world.
To be fair, my first status update on this was that I haven’t even started the book and was already overwhelmed with excitement. I can’t thank enough the person who put this book into my hands. The story takes place in Scotland in 1844, but instead of living like the daughter of a Marquess and trying to find a husband at a ball, Aileana secretly invents steampunk arsenal and gets rid of faeries at night. And by ‘gets rid of’, I mean she kills.
See, Aileana has been the subject of a lot of whispers among the Scottish aristocracy ever since she was found traumatized over her mother’s bloody corpse. What they don’t know is that Lady Douglas was murdered by a fae and Aileana now spends her nights being trained to kill as many as possible in her quest for revenge with help of Kiaran McKay, a fae who kills his own kind for reasons unknown. The fae in this world are mostly ruthless and bloodthirsty creatures trying to escape their eternal prison, and I loved every time they collided with the normal world because it resulted in incredible action sequences. My personal favourite was an unplanned escape from the ball which was seriously thrilling!
At the very crux of this book though is Aileana’s revenge, which is why it uniquely stood out for me. Usually, the hero is motivated by survival or fear or living a better life. Aileana is motivated almost solely by this vengeance that consumes her every action, and the story emotionally resonates because of it. She’s a fab heroine, seemingly fearless, remarkable fighter, and fiercely loyal to her friends, but she’s also a vulnerable girl, dealing with the loss of her mother, her strained relationship with her father and society, and those hardships that come with love.
That being said, my favourite thing about this book is it basically takes all those tropes you love to hate and makes you want more of them. Yes, there is a kick-ass heroine, a love triangle, a brooding leading man, a wise-cracking sidekick and even an arranged marriage, but I absolutely loved it all because Elizabeth May is an absolute genius at characterisation, action and plotting. The stand-out character for me is Gavin, Aileana’s childhood crush, brother of her best friend and all around awesome guy. Plus he’s got this cool ability which I think makes him and Aileana the perfect match (plus, their banter is SO good). I also really loved Derrick, a little pixie that lives in Aileana’s wardrobe, who is cynical, (un)helpful and gets drunk off honey.
As the book builds its way up to an epic climax, there is not one dull moment—you will enjoy every minute of it. My only warning is that it has probably the cruellest cliffhanger ending I’ve read to date, but that only fuels my excitement for the next book. Highly, highly recommended.