Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Falconer (Elizabeth May)

The Falconer
(The Falconer trilogy, Book 1)
Elizabeth May
Chronicle Books
Fiction, YA? Fantasy
*** (Okay)


DESCRIPTION: Since the day young Aileana Kameron was found kneeling by her mother's gored body, mute and covered in blood, Edinburgh's rumor mill ran wild with speculation that the unnatural child had done the deed. But the truth is far more dangerous, and more unbelievable: the culprit was a faerie woman. In 19th century Scotland, with science and mechanical wonders on the rise, few believe in the fae anymore, and even fewer can see them - making for a banquet of perfect, ignorant victims. Aileana has devoted herself to revenge, using her engineering talents to devise a range of clockwork weaponry and training with the traitor faerie Kiaran. It isn't until one of her victims calls her by a strange name - Falconer - that she learns of her lost heritage... and a terrible fate for the whole mortal world should she fail to embrace her destiny.

REVIEW: May creates an interesting setting, mixing steampunk technology with old Scottish faerie lore, for this story of vengeance and fate and the pain of loss. Aileana's a decent heroine, if somewhat exaggerated: I lost track of the number of times she rehashed her Great Pain about the lost innocence of her youth and the life she might have led (personified by her best friend, the proper, sweet society girl Catherine), not to mention struggles over her thirst for vengeance and addiction to the rush of power that comes with killing faeries. At some point, it stopped adding depth and simply became numb repetition. Naturally, despite numerous mentions of how she should never trust the fae and how the death of her mother scoured away all soft emotions such as affection from her being, she develops feelings for her mentor Kiaran - which I rather expected from the moment the character first appeared, not so much out of true chemistry but because the story has a distinctly familiar, trope-based structure that requires Forbidden Passion and Star-Crossed Love. He even has the requisite Dark Secrets that complicate things. Numerous fight sequences liven things up, but even these grow tiresome after a while. Still, I enjoyed the imagination and the fast paced plot (when it didn't bog down in angst)... until the very ending. Now, I knew it was Book 1 of a series when I started it. That does not excuse a cliffhanger ending quite literally dead in the middle of battle, a brick wall I hit so fast I'm surprised I didn't bloody my nose. It felt less like a legitimate ending point and more like a deliberate, last-minute twist designed to drag me into another book. It hacked me off enough I nearly dropped it a full star, and only on further consideration raised the rating to a flat Okay. There's some nice imagery and interesting ideas, but ultimately I just didn't care for the excessive angst and that cheap trick of a final line. I've read too many disappointing stories lately to easily forgive that.

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