Series: The Falconer #1
Published by Chronicle Books on May 2014
Genres: Faeries, Fantasy, Steampunk, Young Adult
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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?
You won’t find any flitting silver-winged faeries in this story, oh no. These faeries will rip your heart out given half a chance. With its steampunk-Scottish-faerie hunting premise, not to mention the gorgeous cover, I couldn’t resist this book. I really did enjoy reading it, too.
Aileana and her faerie mentor, Kiaran, hunt down and slaughter evil faeries each night. Aileana thinks she might be getting closer to tracking down and getting her vengeance on the baobhan sith who killed her mother, but she starts being attacked by stronger creatures than she has encountered before. The seal holding the sithichean in their own world is weakening, and she is the only one who can re-seal it – a Falconer.
The Falconer is set in Edinburgh, 1844. In Ellie’s review she mentioned that she found it hard to separate the Victorian setting from the modern city. I have been to Edinburgh once and my memory of the city isn’t perfect, but I remember enough to get a handle on the way things play out – the grim castle looming over the old town and the straight streets of the new town. I do agree that the period setting didn’t really come through, though. There were parts about assemblies and dance cards and social etiquette, but it was almost like those were part of a different story. They didn’t link well with Aileana’s kick-arse faerie-hunter alter ego.
Aileana is a very dark character, deeply affected by witnessing her mother’s murder by a faerie. She has vowed revenge, and she hunts and kills faerie creatures with almost obscene glee. Aileana develops a slow-burning romance with the powerful faerie, Kiaran, as well as rekindling her childhood friendship with Gavin. I didn’t quite feel the romance with Kiaran. He seems concerned for her at times but then he’ll do something to remind her that he’s faerie and quite alien – not necessarily to be trusted. The whole romantic side of this story didn’t quite work for me, but I’m sure plenty of other readers will enjoy it.
The other characters in the story were fantastic. I especially loved Derrick the pixie and his banter with Aileana. Also, there needed to be way more Gavin in the story. The level of sass between Derrick, Kiaran and Gavin was just amazing – I loved it!
The steampunk aspects seemed to have a bit of the magical about them, such as the ornithopter powered by flapping wings. Why exactly would an electric light require cogs and gears? Also, I was a little at a loss to understand exactly how the clock tower was generating power for the city (perhaps I missed something important there). There didn’t seem to be much “steam” about this technology – it’s more like the “gearpunk” of Sanderson’s The Rithmatist.
One thing that really made me frown at my kindle for a while after reaching the end (you just can’t throw a kindle the way you can a paperback, can you?) was that there is a massive mid-epic battle scene cliff hanger. Now, I’m okay with most cliff hanger endings – in the right place they can be very effective. But this is like mid-way through the climax chapter when everything is coming to a head, then.. Aaargh!! Despite that, I really would like to know what happens next so it’s not a deal-breaker for me.
– The Falconer is a fast-paced story with plenty to tempt fans of paranormal fantasy. The period-drama elements were a little weak but the “gearpunk” and dark faerie tale aspects were very enjoyable. A shame about the cliff hanger though!