Friday, August 22, 2014

Me on The Falconer

Title: The Falconer
Author: Elizabeth May
Release Date: May 6, 2014
Publisher: Chronicle Books

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?

The Falconer is exciting and dangerous, filled with mystery and intrigue and magic. It's a whirlwind of a story, a story of one girl's strength and revenge, and it's only the beginning.

Alieana is a number of things. Strong. Serious. Vengeful. She's a girl on a mission, a rather perilous one, but duty has a way of ruining her plans. As the daughter of a marquess she leads a privileged life. She's expected to always act like a lady, polite and beautiful without a hint of anger. Instead she's caught between the immovable rock that is her father and the deadly hard place that holds the faeries slowly creeping out into the city. She cannot escape either, much to her dismay. It's rather obvious that, given the choice, she would leave behind the ballrooms and courtesies and never-ending dances with boring old earls and viscounts. Alieana has her qualities, her skill at fighting, her intelligence and inventions. She acknowledges her beauty but she doesn't focus on it. It's one of the last things she things about. But what she also has is her pride, her focus on one goal and one goal only: to kill the faery that slaughtered her mother.

This certainly is the dangerous side of faeries. The vicious side. The mischievous evil side. Thankfully Alieana isn't completely alone, even if her allies are Kiaran, a rather secretive faery who instructs her in how to fight those of his kind who plague Edinburgh, and Derrick, a pixie who lives in her wardrobe and mends her clothes in exchange for honey. While they certainly appear to assist Alieana at times, they still shouldn't be trusted. Not with everything. Because they keep secrets in the way magpies keep shiny objects.

Alieana's inventions were interesting and different, her intelligence and her knack at inventing certainly set her apart from other heroines in other books. Her creativity when it comes to machinery and weapons seems to know no bounds, even if they are used for one purpose and one purpose only. But she needs to defend herself, she needs to defend those she cares about and the city, and so she crafts what she must.

As I read this, I wondered why I hadn't read it sooner. And I wondered why it felt so familiar. An odd sense of nostalgia overtook me while reading this and I had no idea why. Later on, I realized it was more nostalgia from reading a book I enjoyed to the core. A book with equal measure Victorian time period setting, fae magic, a strong heroine trapped between fate and duty, mystique, intrigue, a supportive friend, impossible to handle male counterparts, and the prospect of near certain death at the hands of the heroine's enemies. My only complaint is that it has an ending, an ending where the book ends and does not magically turn into the next book.

(I received a finished copy from Raincoast Books.)

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