The Falconer #1
Available May 6th
Source: eARC from publisher for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Heiress. Debutant. Murderer. A new generation of heroines has arrived.
Edinburgh, Scotland, 1844
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
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 a stunning beginning to this trilogy, introducing us to an unforgettable cast of characters who impress with their charm and wit as well as captivate with the seeming endlessness of their mysteries. The fae in Aileana's world are the stuff of nightmares, beasts and monsters of legend brought to spectacular life by Ms. May to both horrify and fascinate readers in turn with their dark mythology. We find ourselves mesmerized from page one, brief but haunting glimpses of the gruesome death of Alieana's mother interspersed with heart-pumping physical battles as our young heroine feeds her vengeance with the blood of those responsible. Though there is a heaviness to the story and the weight of Aileana's grief is a palpable thing, Ms. May infuses this tale of pain and loss with beautifully surprising humor, shocking a laugh out of us on more than one occasion and ensuring we always something positive to cling to when the gravity of what Aileana faces begins to set in.
Aileana, or Kam as the ever-enigmatic fae Kiaran calls her, is a heroine who quickly earns herself a spot at the top of our list of memorable and stand-out young women in fiction, proving herself to be a delight at every turn thanks to an enviable combination of traits. She's not only a skilled fighter, battling and beating monstrous fae who dwarf her in size and strength, but she's also in possession of a enormously entertaining dry wit and a level head that practically makes us giddy. She knows Kiaran is so much more than he appears to be, yet instead of constantly badgering him or deliberately doing the opposite of what he asks out of spite (with the exception of battling fae on her own, but that's an easily forgivable infraction in the context of the story) to provoke a reaction from him, she simply bides her time and asks well-timed questions sparingly. As much as we want to trust in Kiaran, we can't help but respect Aileana's ability to compartmentalize the various facets of his character, lowering her guard in some areas to let him in while remaining ever-mindful of exactly what he is so she's never devastated when some of the secrets he's been withholding come to light.
The Falconer is an achingly romantic story, but in its pages we actually find very little romance, instead the relationship between Aileana and Kiaran exists almost solely in the realm of possibility. The moments between them thrum with tension and awareness one second before we blink and the moment passes, leaving us wondering if we're simply projecting what we desperately want onto the two of them in order to make something from nothing. Kiaran is largely cold and unfeeling–and completely unapologetic for being so–but every once in a while we get the barest glimpse of something more, and that tiny kernel of promise sparks a flame of hope and desire in us greater than any kiss or physical expression of attraction ever could. He is a wild card, an unpredictable and ancient fae whose secrets we don't even begin to uncover in this first installment, and the fact that he appears utterly unattainable throughout only serves to increase his appeal tenfold.
A review of this book would absolutely not be complete without the mention of Derrick, a hilariously lovable pixie who lives in Aileana's dressing room and likes to imbibe on honey, something that results in his telling all those around him the truth about his feelings for them. He's absurd in the best possible way, making us laugh out loud just when we need it most, and he proves to be both friend and unwaveringly loyal companion to Aileana to the bitter end. We're left with what simply cannot be called anything but a cliffhanger, a parting statement brutally slapping us in the face and leaving an unexpected sting in its wake as we try to make sense of it, hoping against hope that what's implied will prove to be false in future books. Despite being evicted at the singularly most intense moment of the story, The Falconer is both gorgeously dark and surprisingly light, making our hearts beat double-time thanks to numerous battle scenes and the powerful but subtle relationship between Aileana and Kiaran, and the wait for book two will be nothing short of painful.