Friday, June 17, 2016

Me on The Vanishing Throne

Title: The Vanishing Throne
Author: Elizabeth May
Release Date: June 21, 2016
Publisher: Chronicle Books

Aileana Kameron, the Falconer, disappeared through the fae portal that she was trying to close forever. Now she wakes in an alien world of mirrors, magic, and deception-a prisoner of the evil fae Lonnrach, who has a desperate and deadly plan for his new captive. Time after agonizing time Lonnrach steals Aileana's memories, searching for knowledge to save his world. Just when she's about to lose all hope, Aileana is rescued by an unexpected ally and returns home, only to confront a terrifying truth. The city of Edinburgh is now an unrecognizable wasteland. And Aileana knows the devastation is all her fault. The few human survivors are living in an underground colony, in an uneasy truce with a remnant of the fae. It is a fragile alliance, but an even greater danger awaits: the human and the fae worlds may disappear forever. Only Aileana can save both worlds, but in order to do so she must awaken her latent Falconer powers. And the price of doing so might be her life.

The Vanishing Throne is dark and deadly, the continuation of a story now filled with fear and despair. This is the fallout from actions made and evil plots carried out in the first book, the result of the worst possible scenario. But what drives the story forward is the determination of the returning heroine, is her unwillingness to give up. No matter how much pain she's in. No matter how much she wants to scream.

Aileana is lost to the human world, trapped in the Sith-bhrùth, in the fae kingdoms. Trapped by Lonnrach. Tortured by him. In the beginning she's full of sorrow and fear, left helpless, ready to give up. But that solid core of steel that is her strength is still there. Rescued by an unlikely ally, Aileana finds her home ruined, her city destroyed, and those she once knew all changed in some way. This is the healing and the rebuilding for her, the search for power and the unleashing of it. She looks at the rubble of Edinburgh and is filled with guilt, guilt that she didn't fight hard enough, that she wasn't strong enough to keep the fae from running rampant through human cities. It's hard to say it's all her fault when she's forced up against very powerful inhuman beings like the fae. Like Lonnrach and Sorcha.

There's something not so subtle that runs through this book, that starts with Aileana's capture and torture to her escape and beyond. From her fear to her determination, from the shift from victim to survivor. The ways Lonnrach's torture of her is described. His stealing from her and stealing into her memories. His painful attacks. His choice of words. To me, it was rape. It's rape without saying the word, without the explicit sexual action. It's Aileana captured, tortured, and used by someone for their own gains, for their own search for power and domination. And it's what follows. Her escape, the freefalls into dark memories that circle around his touch and his voice. His continued search for her. It would be easy, so easy, for Aileana to accept the offer to forget, but she refuses. She uses that fear, that anger, those fractured pieces of her, and she keeps on going. Keeps on fighting. Because she will get her revenge.

This is a tale of hard lessons and harder to stomach truths, of consequences, of pain and suffering and regret. Of clawing your way out and finding yourself, keeping yourself yours and not someone else's. Of returns and revenge. There were times when I felt uncomfortable, which was great, and there were times when I didn't want it to end, remembering the way the first book ended. This left me both satisfied and desperate. Satisfied because I hadn't expected so much to happen to Aileana, for her to be in so much pain, and for certain truths to be revealed. Desperate because it ended when I didn't want it to end, because this book left me feeling sad. Which, like the uncomfortableness, is good. Books that provoke this kind of reaction in me are good, they stick with me. I'm also desperate to know what will happen next, how the trilogy will end.

(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Raincoast Books.)

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