Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Review: The Falconer

THE FALCONER
The Falconer #1
Elizabeth May
Young Adult/Fantasy
336 pages
Chronicle Books
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

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?


MY THOUGHTS
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.

Rating: 4.5/5

Find Elizabeth:

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This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

47 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for making me read this!! I loved it just like you did .. wooot!! And Oh Kierran - I love these mysterious bad ass characters that have a hard time thawing their heart:)
    And Derrick? I think he was the perfect addition to all the darkness - I want my own Derrick too!

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    1. YOU ARE WELCOME! I knew after the first few chapters I had to make sure you read it so we could gush over it:)

      How much fun would it be to have a Derrick? The times he got drunk on honey had me dying laughing:)

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  2. I'm so glad you enjoyed this one as well, it was a really nice surprise for me. And you're so right, I love Derrick! It's a really fun character. I forgot to mention him. But well now I'm really curious to see what will happen. Great review!

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    1. I NEED THE NEXT BOOK MELLIANE!!! That ending was brutal.

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  3. This one sounds so wicked, I really want to read it

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    1. I adored it, I hope you give it a try:)

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  4. Ahh, I love the way you describe the possible romance. I love me some tension, hehe! ;) This sounds like my kind of book, great review!

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    1. Yes to tension Renu! The super tense relationships with the will they/won't they questions just make me happy:)

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  5. Oh wow! Fantastic review! I am so excited I got my hands on an ARC of this book and I can't wait to read it. Between the fantasy aspects, the subtle romance and Derrick (he sounds brilliant!), this one looks like a win to me. Great review, Jenny….very excited for this one!

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    1. I hope you love it as much as I did Christina! I just though it was fantastic all the way around:)

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  6. I was so nervous when I saw you posted a review of this book today, Jenny. I loved the book and wanted everyone around me to love it too, so you can't imagine my excitement over your gorgeous review and rating.
    Ailena is definitely one of my top favorite heroines too. I loved her strength and of course her wit was definitely an appreciative quality.
    "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."

    THIS! Oh goodness! This is how I felt the entire book. The 'will they won't they" was starting to drive me crazy (in a good way of course). I'm curious to see how everything between them will unfold and there's so much to learn about Kiaran.

    Also, yes! Derrick! <3 I loved that little pixie so much. And the scenes were he would get drunk on honey were so adorable. I loved his friendship with Ailena too and how he wasn't afraid to tell her the truth about everything.

    Lovely review, Jenny! :)

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    1. KIARAN NICK!!! I loved that I was rooting for him but at the same time was super wary of him. I never knew if he was going to reach a point where he did something I couldn't forgive, and I loved every second of the stress that caused me.

      And I want to reach out and hug Derrick so many times. He was the cutest:)

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  7. Dang it Jenny your reviews make me want to read everything you loved as well. My TBR pile can't take it LOL!

    I had no intention of reading this since I usually shy away from books about the fae but I see that I am going to have to add this one to my TBR pile now for sure.

    Gorgeous review sweetie!!

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    1. Ditto to you Ali! I hope you break down and buy this one though, I think you'll love it:)

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  8. Um.... want. If the cover and synopsis wasn't enough to sell me, your review's done it. Waaant.

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  9. Wow, how have I not heard more about this book yet? This sounds like exactly my kind of book! I love that the author manages to work in humor amongst the darkness and action, and the subtle tension between Aileana and Kiaran sounds absolutely delicious. Can't wait to meet them (and Derrick, he sounds hilarious)! Stunning review, Jenny - I'm totally sold!

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    1. I loved it so much Lauren! The humor was just so perfectly timed throughout, keeping things from getting overwhelmingly dark. And you will love Derrick. He's absurd and adorable:)

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  10. Fairies + Victorians = . . . I'm having a hard time coming up with something awesome enough to fit into that equation . . . Three guesses what I'll be reading next Tuesday (first two don't count).

    Awesome review, Jenny! I'm so glad to see that this book is living up to my expectations ;)

    Jessica @ Rabid Reads

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    1. This one had a Fever series vibe for me Jessica, and I know you are a fan of those books, so I think you'll really like this one. Kiaran is a slightly less intense Barrons-esque character and I loved him to pieces:)

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  11. Okay, normally I wouldn't have given this novel a second glance (I'm picky like that), but wow. You make this story sound so delicious and fantastical that I can't help but be completely sold! I must meet these characters, Jenny! Fantastic review :)

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    1. I was just blown away by this one Melissa. I hope you get a chance to read it:)

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  12. Okay, this sounds amazing. And the cover is gorgeous. And fae and pixies. Sold. Seriously. I probably would have looked past this one except you pretty much sold it to me effortlessly.

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    1. YES ASHELEY, IT WAS AMAZING! And all caps worthy:)

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  13. I'm so excited for The Falconer . Your review is beautiful, and I'm so glad that this Fae story is a stunning beginning to the trilogy. The last few Fae stories I've read have been somewhat meh- either the heroine/hero was lacking or the story/world-building, or romance. So glad this is off to a great start. :)

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    1. I thought this was a spectacular beginning Kim! The ending is a touch abrupt and leaves you reeling a bit, but other than that it was perfect to me:)

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  14. I wrote my review for this just the other day. I totally agree with your analysis. I loved this book right up until the brutal ending. It felt like the book just chopped off and I wouldn't even call it a cliffhanger. Derrick was terrific he reminded me of Jenks from the Hollows Series, but not so profane.

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    1. Derrick had me in stitches. I just couldn't get enough of him Heidi! And yes, that ending hurt. Here's hoping book two doesn't end in similar fashion:)

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  15. Oh that romance! So frustrating, but I can deal especially since it is a series. Derrick sounds like a hoot and someone I would love to read about. But... Cliffie???? NOoooOOO! UGH! *shakes fist in air* WHY? Not that I'm overly dramatic or anything... ;)

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    1. You will LOVE Derrick Melissa. LOVE him. I want a whole book of him just being protective and ridiculous and fun:)

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  16. Okay, you've completely sold me on Keirran and the romance! He sounds exactly like my type of book boyfriend, even though that's probably not what he wants in the least. ;) Love triangle? No love triangle? I've heard mixed things.

    Great review!

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    1. YAY!!!!! Mission accomplished ;-) There is another guy in the picture, but I wouldn't consider it a triangle in this first book. She never waffled in her feelings really, she's always drawn to Kiaran even when she knows there are infinite layers to him she doesn't know about. It could turn into a triangle eventually (I'm hoping it doesn't), but to me this first installment was triangle-free.

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  17. I complete agree with you about this book, it was such a fantastic story! The fae were terrifying and even for me that I usually don't enjoy Fae stories, I loved every bit of it!
    And reading your review for it makes me want to read the book again, brilliant review, Jenny!!

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    1. YESSSS! I think I'm ready for a re-read already too Pili! So good:)

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  18. I can't wait to read this one, Jenny! I love how the fae are nasty just like the old tales. I don't mind the subtle romance but I'm really curious to learn about the dark mythology of this one.

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    1. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did Rummanah. I just thought the characters were amazing and the world of the fae beautifully (and horrifically) depicted.

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  19. I'm so glad you enjoyed this, Jenny! I think I'm going to wait to see how this plays out because of the potential love triangle rumors running around, but it definitely seems like a unique take on fae lore -- one I'd enjoy. :)

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    1. I didn't feel like there was a triangle in this one at all. Yes, there are two guys and Kiaran is an emotionally elusive character, but she's not that girl that can't make up her mind between two guys. It has the potential to turn into a triangle though, but I'm hoping it goes in a different direction in the next book!

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  20. Another beautifully written review Jenny. The title caught my eye, then the lovely cover. I like the premise too. I love how you said it's romantic, but not a romance. That definitely appeals to me. I'm going to put this on my TBR list!

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    1. Thanks so much Pam! And yes, there was very little physical affection in this book, but the relationship between Aileana and Kiaran had a romantic air about it. It was all whispers and promises and I loved it:)

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  21. I actually have this on my Library List! Just waiting :)

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    1. YEAH FELICIA! You'll have to let me know what you think:)

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  22. The story's so serious, it really needed the comedic element of Derrick and his honey addiction. I actually liked that there wasn't really much romance in this one, just the hint of it, like you said. So much possibility!

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  23. This sounds like a fantastic read. I'm all for a high fantasy book. In fact I have been getting onto those a lot lately. Thanks for the awesome review!

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  24. Oh, I want this one for sure! That cover? Awesome.

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  25. This has been on my wishlist for so long that I forgot what it was about, lol. Thanks for reminding me. And now I want it NOW! It sounds AMAZING!

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  26. I keep seeing these glowing reviews of this book! I was going to wait until book 2, because some people have said there could be a love triangle coming maybe. And I want to make sure that doesn't happen before I invest. But you make these characters and story sound incredibly appealing. I love these romances that start off as possibilities and build slowly! And this heroine sounds awesome. I totally trust your love triangle advice after The Kiss of Deception - you steered me right on that! But sometimes it's hard to know where an author will go. Glad you loved this one!

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