Sunday, November 24, 2013

Review: The Falconer (The Falconer, #1)

The Falconer (The Falconer, #1)Author: Elizabeth May
Series: The Falconer, #1
Published: September 26th 2013
Publisher: Gollancz
Format: Hardcover, 312 pages
Buy: The Book Depository

One girl's nightmare is this girl's faery tale.

She's a stunner.
Edinburgh, 1844. Eighteen-year-old Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, has everything a girl could dream of: brains, charm, wealth, a title — and drop-dead beauty.
She's a liar.
But Aileana only looks the part of an aristocratic young lady. She's leading a double life: She has the rare ability to sense the s√¨thichean — the faery race obsessed with slaughtering humans — and, with the aid of a mysterious mentor, has spent the year since her mother died learning how to kill them.
She's a murderer.
Now Aileana is dedicated to slaying the fae before they take innocent lives. With her abilities and her knack for inventing ingenious tools and weapons — from flying machines to detonators to lightning pistols — ruthless Aileana has one goal: Destroy the faery who destroyed her mother.
She's a Falconer.
The last in a line of female warriors born with the gift for hunting and killing the fae, Aileana is the sole hope of preventing a powerful faery population from massacring all of humanity. Suddenly, her quest is a lot more complicated. She still longs to avenge her mother's murder — but she'll have to save the world first.
By now, everyone in the world knows that I’m terrified of faeries. I dislike seeing them romanticized; I’d much rather have them portrayed as the deceptive, vicious creatures they are. In The Falconer by Elizabeth May, though, there’s a little bit of both, and that, as it turns out, is a perfect combination for someone like me.

We join Aileana not at the traumatic event that caused her to start killing faeries, but a year later, when she’s already met Kiaran MacKay, the faery who molded her into a fighter. It’s clear from the start that Aileana is no ordinary Victorian society girl, even though she once used to be.

There is a perfect balance of light and darkness in Kiaran MacKay. He talks little of his past, his thousands of years of existence, but when he does, it’s difficult to reconcile the monster he describes with the hero we quickly grow to love. The same balance is reflected in Aileana, albeit more moderately. While it’s true that hunting faeries saves people’s life, Aileana is driven by her overwhelming need for vengeance, not by altruism. It is, however, impossible not to sympathize with her – having seen her mother brutally murdered by a faery, Aileana is forever changed.

May paints for us a very detailed picture of Edinburgh in mid 19th century, each sentence showing the amount of research that went into The Falconer and her familiarity with the setting. She also shows, rather accurately, how stiff and uncompromising the society was, especially towards women. ‘Duty first’ is the rule by which all women lived.

May does a wonderful job with the fae language as well. She rarely offers translations or explanations, but it certainly looks authentic enough and gives Kiaran and Derrick an extra layer of otherworldliness, a much needed reminder when we run the risk of seeing them as too human.

The cliffhanger, however, successfully ruined what was otherwise a fabulous reading experience. There is no resolution whatsoever, and we’re left with very little hope for Aileana and Kiaran. Secondary characters are also left with no closure, sent on errands and practically abandoned mid-flight.

Nevertheless, The Falconer is at the very least an original, beautifully written novel worthy of attention. If you are a patient sort, perhaps wait until book two is released. If not, you’ll just have to suffer with the rest of us.


  1. Ack! I am really starting to hate cliffies, they really can make or break an otherwise good read.

    Wonderful review Maja, I think this is a series I just might like but of course, wouldn't start yet because of the cliffhanger. Hopefully the second book will resolve those unanswered questions and issues you had with it.

  2. Such a shame this great book had a not so brilliant ending. Always sucks when that happens! :(

    Fabulous review, Maja! <33

  3. H.m...yes I will wait. I am NOT the patient sort

  4. Considering I have an ARC of this to read before the US release date in May, I'm doomed to be a recipient of this cliffhanger ending. *sigh* On the other hand, I love that these characters are complex and that the historical setting is authentic. I'm certainly looking forward to picking this one up! Lovely review, Maja!

  5. oh... the cliffhanger... that's bad. I confess I didn't know this one but now I'm curious about it. I think I'll try it and add it to my wishlist. thank you.

  6. That ending! I still don't quite know how I feel about it. It didn't quite read as a true cliffhanger to me, but at the same time, the lack of resolution makes me tense. I liked the book overall too, though, and I'm glad to see it worked for you as well. Your points on Kiaran sum up exactly what I liked about his character. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing how things unravel for him and Aileana next. Great review, Maja!

  7. Great review, Maja! I know I will read this one, but given the warning about the cliffhanger... I think I will wait till book 2 is out! Also, give than I like the US cover more than the UK cover, I'll probably wait till the book is available there!

  8. I am also like you, very very picky about my faerie novels. This one doesn't sound too bad, and if the faerie thing was satisfying for you I think I will give it a shot! I do love the sound of the originality in this one.

  9. I was kind of looking forward to this book but I don't like the sound of the cliffhanger, that makes me want to wait for the second book. Course that's a ways off since US version doesn't come out til May. Good to see a review of this though. I'm curious what she does with the fae language... that part sounds interesting.

  10. *stomps around, cursing* Bloody cliffhangers. Ruin everything. Think I'll wait for the next in the series so I don't have to deal with a cliffie 'cause this book sounds good...except for that.

  11. Ooo frustrating ending..but like you I love that there is a combination of good and evil fairies. They really are not to be trusted :) I will be anxious to see reviews of book two.

  12. Sigh. Cliffhanger. I guess I'll wait until the next book comes out before I succumb to buying this one (even though I've been soo determined to pick this one up). I really love the sound of this. An avenging heroine is definitely one that I love to read about.

    Wonderful review, Maja!

  13. I've been so curious about this book and reviews are all over the place, but I'm glad to hear you enjoyed the world and the characters in spite of the evil cliffie ending. I'll definitely wait until book two's release before reading the first book. Lovely review!

  14. That end is disappointing. I've been really excited to read this and have it on my WL, it just sounds so good. But no wrap up at all does not sound good. I guess I can hold off until the next book is out...

  15. Cliffhangers are prob the reason I usually wait for the next couple of books in the series, they always drive me nuts. Glad this one isn't a bigger disappointment thought! I am looking forward to it

  16. Oh no not a cliffhanger ;(

    Hate faeries being romanticised then I think you'll like the wicked lovely series . ( I'm pretty sure you must have read it already )

  17. This book sounds something that I would really like. The characters are intriguing and I like the mix of evil and good fey. Although that cliffie has me concerned. I think I'll wait to have book 2 to start this one.

  18. Aw, that's too bad to hear about that cliffhanger! I don't quite understand why authors think it's acceptable to write a story as a series if they clearly don't have any ideas for resolution in the earlier installments; things like this make me wonder if they're just milking the system for more money and prestige.
    Despite that knowledge, however, I *am* interested in this book. It sounds pretty interesting, and I'm happy to hear that May's story seems to be well-researched. I generally am okay with cliffhangers, so I won't be opposed to reading this sooner, rather than later. We'll see if I end up eating my words later on haha.

  19. I really liked the main character and her development :) the worldbuilding is rather solid too! My problems was also with the cliffy, but let's hope Book 2 is released soon!


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