The Falconer (Falconer #1) by Elizabeth May
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?
Three and a half stars
A long, long time ago (okay, back in 2014), Bibliomancy for Beginners did a hangout on Elizabeth May’s The Falconer. To say that Michaela–and especially Taylor–didn’t like it would be an understatement. I remember enjoying it, even if I didn’t love-love it. But, once the camera started going and we all started chatting, something about what I had loved got lost. Don’t get me wrong, that’s a HILARIOUS hangout and you should totally watch it. But almost two years later I have realized something important: I don’t think I was fair.
I didn’t magically have this revelation. NetGalley approved me for an ARC of the second book, The Vanishing Throne, and I re-read the book (and watched the hangout) to prep for it. Why, you ask, did I request that book in the first place? I honestly have no bloody idea. But if the first 60% are any indication, I’m really, really glad I did.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
This book is not perfect, but it sure is a fun ride. Something that can shock you–and I know this bothered other Bibliomancers–is that this is no historical fiction injected with fae. (I guess the new description of this book tells you that, but the one above is what I bought the book based on.) This world is basically steampunk, although the whys and wherefores of why it’s steampunk are never explained. It just is–possibly just so Aileana can shoot AND stab things as opposed to just stab things. I don’t know.
But if you can get past that and enjoy the vaguely steampunkish scenery, like I did, then you’re in for a nice treat with our main character. Yes, she is a little one-dimensional with her quest for vengeance, but I do like her ferocity and her determination to always look after herself. Yes, her fighting prowess comes through magic, not lifelong practice, but May makes sure that Aileana isn’t automatically badass. She does have to work at her powers. She isn’t very good at using them sometimes. Also important to me is the fact that while Aileana talks about not being like “all those other girls” at parties and such, she doesn’t say it with the admonishment and condescension that often accompany an attempt at the Strong Female Protagonist. Aileana misses that life. She wants it back. But she’s also become unabashedly violent, and thriving. I like.
The other characters in the story are fairly generic. Aileana’s best friend Catherine is the typical lady who knows nothing of Aileana’s life, and Aileana’s father pops in and out when the plot needs him to. Catherine’s mother is your typical Proper Mom. I do still love Derrick, Aileana’s friend pixie who spends a great deal of the book drunk on honey.
I go back and forth on the romance in the book, because it does things that I like and don’t like. There’s Kiaran, the dark and brooding fairy who taught her to hunt, and then Gavin, Catherine’s older brother and childhood friend of Aileana. It’s not a total love triangle, though, which is why I held out small hope when I read this the first time. Aileana loved Gavin once, but she doesn’t anymore, but she’s into Kiaran. Kiaran keeps reminding her that no matter how much she tries to humanize him, he isn’t human and she shouldn’t trust him. The fact that she does continues to bug me, but whatever. Gavin and Aileana also have an interesting relationship that differs from the cliche–at least for now–and that makes me happy.
The plot of this book is action packed, and it makes it a really fast read. Aileana is always fighting something, whether she should be or not. She really does love to go on the hunt. The ending, however, gets to me because–without spoiling anything–it shouldn’t have ended like that. There are good cliffhangers and then there’s … that. Like there should have been a next chapter but wasn’t. It wasn’t at the end of the climax, but RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE, leaving the final battle sequence feeling chopped in half and unfulfilled.
When I finished reading this book for the first time, before the Hangout, I enjoyed it a lot. I think I rated it three stars on Goodreads. I hold to that three and a half rating, mostly because there are some issues and flatness within this book that keep me from loving it completely. But I did like it. In the hangout, however, I think that I was unfair from mentioning all the potential I saw in this book. There’s A LOT OF IT, and I should have mentioned that then instead of riffing off all it’s problems. So I’m doing it now.
Also, like I said, I’m 60% of the way through the second book and (as long as the last 40% doesn’t tank horribly) I CANNOT WAIT TO SHARE THAT WITH YOU. So far, the potential that I saw in the first book has PAID OFF. So. Yet another reason I was inspired to re-review this.
So there you have it. Taylor can fight me all he wants.