Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Book Review: The Falconer by Elizabeth May

**NetGalley provided this ARC for review purposes--Thanks NetGalley!**

What it's about:
           This story follows Lady Aileana Kameron (Kam, to Kiaran), who's just come back out into society from the mourning period following her mother's brutal murder. She was in such shock from witnessing her mother's heart being ripped out that she didn't cry...and therefore a lot of people in society now treat her like she's the one who committed the murder.  It doesn't help that she fights and kills invisible monsters that roam the streets of Edinburgh at night with the help of a mysterious fae male with a dark past who calls himself Kiaran and has vowed to never kill another human again.

Aileana notices that there are bigger and badder fae showing up at the same time as the baobhan sith who killed her mom is coming back into the area.  She discovers, through some stoic comments (on Kiaran's part) and information revealed to her by the only warm and kind man in her life and one of my favorite characters--Derrick the closet-pixie, that she is a Falconer, which gives her increased skills in badassery and--oops--makes her the only person alive who can reset the lock placed on the fae prison 2000 years ago.  As if trying to fit into a dated and sexist society wasn't bad enough.

What I thought:
          A steampunk fairy story set in Scotland? A brooding, sassy, sexy fae warrior who's mostly cold inhuman fairy with just the tiniest bit of humanity creeping around the edges? A tale of the Seelie and Unseelie courts of the Fairy Realm who are about to escape and wreak havoc on the world after being imprisoned for the last two millennia?

So let's talk characters: 

Aileana is a total badass--society girl by day, tinkering inventor/fae hunter by night. She's got her own flying machine--THAT SHE BUILT--and is feeling confident enough to go hunting fae on her own.  She's--for good reason--traumatized by seeing her mother slaughtered, so behind all of that confidence there's a little fear and brokenness that shapes her character nicely.

Next, I'm just going to come out and say it--Kiaran could be ACOTAR's Rhysand's younger formerly-evil cousin.  He's just that perfect blend of snark and coldness with a dash of humanity (his long-lost love? A Falconer woman from before the fae were captured underground) and a smidge of a super dark past.  I don't know why I like characters like him so much, but he's a winner.

Every girl needs a Derrick the closet pixie in their lives. He's encouraging, helpful, brave, and sews a mean wardrobe.  He's also adorable when drunk on honey.  He and Kiaran obviously have something from their past that's keeping them from being friends, but for Aileana's sake, they are relatively civil with each other.

There's also Catherine, Aileana's best human friend, and her brother (who just happens to have some hidden talents of his own).

The cast of characters in this story is great. All of them are well-developed and we get a really strong sense of the relationships they have with Aileana and how they fit into the story as a whole.  There's no instant bonding or knowledge that comes out of nowhere--many of these characters are already established in Aileana's life before we start reading so the transition is well done.

The story and setting are also captivating.  I want to visit this world!  The descriptions of the places and things Aileana encounters on an everyday basis are vivid and imaginative.  What self-respecting tea-drinker would I be if I said I wasn't super intrigued by the instant tea-dispensing machines that seem to be handily located in every parlor in town?

Once the story gets moving, it's all intrigue and action.  We see Aileana's growth and understanding of what her role really is as well as how big her responsibilities are--she is literally the only one standing between life as she knows it and Fae Armageddon.  The inclusion of the Seelie/Unseelie court-style fae was one of my favorites.  It's a throwback that to me, and indicates that these fae mean business and that they're not to be trusted because they can and WILL just murder you.

All of these aspects combine into a fantastic and engaging book--I fell in love with the characters, setting, and story, and bought the Kindle version of the second book before I was even done with the first!

Rating: 4.5 stars

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