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Review: The Falconer by Elizabeth May

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Falconer
Elizabeth May

Series: The Falconer #1
Genre: HistoricalFantasy
Hardback: 378 Pages
Publication: May 6, 2014
by Chronicle Books


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?

◆ A copy was provided by Chronicle Books for review ◆

For the first half of the book, I was pretty sure that I was going to end up loathing this book. Around 60% into the novel, however, the action really picked up, and I found myself enchanted by the dark, compelling world of "faeries." I use quotation marks because Kiaran calls them something else, a term I wish I'd written down because I can't remember how to spell it.

As my feelings progressed from near loathing to genuine interest, it's appropriate to start with what I didn't like. One of my first grievances about the book was the poor world building. I don't know much about Scotland or historical periods, but I didn't really feel immersed in the Scottish culture and the time period. The language had more of a modern feel in spite of the occasional aye's and wee's. Though the story introduces different types of faeries early on, Aileana doesn't give much away about what they are and where they fall in the faerie hierarchy. It's not until later, more powerful faeries enter the storyline that more detailed classifications are offered, and I could piece together a better idea of her world. Even then, so much is left open. We only ever get a small taste of it in this first book.

I get that Aileana is furious at her mother's murderer. So furious and filled with anger that it crosses into obsession as she goes around killing faeries. When she keeps talking about how angry she is, however, it gets old fast. And she did this quite a bit in the beginning. This makes it difficult to see past the anger into the naive, hopeful girl she claims she used to be. It doesn't help that she dallies around in giving a full explanation for why she feels compelled to kill faeries. She also likes how drunk she gets on the rush of faerie power, but she doesn't explain what it is and how exactly it influences her. It wasn't until late into the story that I realized that killing faeries gives her more than an adrenaline rush.

Aileana is hot-headed character, and I can see why she'd be considered likable. However, I find it very difficult to like characters that lash out on the spur of the moment and take pleasure in making their feelings known without considering the consequences. For example, hough Kiaran is responsible for saving her life and training her to fight, Aileana will lash out at him and seems to feel justified in demanding he confide his secrets to her. Secrets that torment him. I understand that she doesn't trust him because of who he is, but her behavior seems to have more emotional than rational drive. Considering how hot he is though, I can't blame her for losing some control around him. I'll leave it to you to read the book to find out what happens along this vein.

Other than Aileana, and Kiaran to some extent, the characters remain static. This doesn't mean that they're any less likable. I love Derrick. He's absolutely adorable! I wish that I had a pixie like him—maybe, probably. While he can get on Aileana's nerves, his usefulness and, more importantly, friendship outweigh the cons. Catherine and Gavin are wonderful, supportive characters. These are the friends I'd trust with my secrets and would want to have my back. Not to say that the story couldn't have used more character development though, especially in the first half as characters were being introduced.

The action scenes are what really bring the story to life. The 'evil' faeries really come to life in horrific detail, and the suspense is built up. I felt myself rushing through the streets with Aileana and cringing as she endured torturous wounds to complete her missions. I felt the rush of power as she conquered yet another enemy and pride in the badges she accumulated on her body. And I found myself liking her a little. It's also pretty cool how there's some steampunk technology mixed in. As the story progressed, the action becomes more intense, climaxing in a nasty cliffhanger that has been melting in a puddle bemoaning the situation.


As it is, I must wait until I can get a copy of the next book within my grasp to find out what happens. Other than that, I would definitely like to see more world building and character development. And definitely more epic action scenes. I know I've complained about her thus far, but Aileana is pretty badass when it comes to killing faeries.

Additional Information
  1. The Falconer
  2. Untitled
  3. Untitled

  • Language
  • Kissing
  • States of undress (semi-sexual context)
  • Violence

4 comments on "Review: The Falconer by Elizabeth May"
  1. It took until 60% to get into it?! Yikes, that's a bit scary. I would have DNF'd I think. This has been on my wishlist but maybe I need to go read a few more reviews first.

    1. Yeah, it was tempting to dnf it, but I'd seen so many rave reviews that I wanted to see what the hype was about.

  2. I totally understand going from ugh to meh as you read a book. I did that with Crown of Midnight recently. I'm glad the story got stronger, and the action scenes sound great! I've always had a love for fairy stories, so I think I'll enjoy this one. I'm always down for "epic action" :)

    -P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

    1. It's always better for a story to grow stronger than weaker :) Though it did take a while for this one. I hope you enjoy The Falconer!


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