Author: Elizabeth May
Series: The Falconer, #1
Published: September 26th 2013
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 sìthichean — 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.