This is one of those books I would have read immediately if I had ever heard of it, but I never had. Thankfully, NetGalley supplied me with the third and final book in this series, The Fallen Kingdom, WITHOUT EVER INDICATING IT WAS PART OF A SERIES. Ugh. When I found out, I was annoyed. At least 1) it is the finale of the series and 2) this sounds AWESOME. So, a bit annoyed, I picked up The Falconer from the library.
NetGalley, I will never doubt you again. Thank you for not betraying me.
I’m like him. I’m a monster too.
The Falconer is a paranormal action adventure story set in steampunk Scotland. Yup. That’s what I said. And it’s brilliant. Our setting is dark and brooding, as Scotland can be, but the steampunk elements give us a sense of hope (and science!) while still feeling true to the time period. Often when we read stories involving the paranormal science is left out. What’s even more gripping is that Aileana has a knack for making gadgets. She uses her mechanical talents to build transportation, weapons, and armor as needed in her fight against the fae.
These mechanizations don’t feel out of place with the typical society life of 1800’s Scotland either. May seamlessly integrates these elements with Victorian Era Scotland. Only once or twice did I feel like it was strange, but that was mostly because I was picturing actual Edinburgh in my head with these flying machines. Adorable. I also love all the Scottish colloquialisms May throws in amongst the more formal British way of speaking to give the characters color. She does a great job creating a realistic universe. For the humans at least.
Smile. Nod. Be polite. Be proper Aileana, because proper Aileana apologizes even when she doesn’t have to. She’s bland and dull and nice. I just have to survive the day without killing anyone.
Speaking of the characters. Aileana is one heck of a broken character. She’s a brilliant girl, possibly genius level intelligence, who is driven completely by revenge. It’s fascinating watching her hold up the formal pretense of being a titled young lady of marriageable age while balancing her quirks and obsessions. In fact, Aileana is so broken by the events of the last year that she begins the book as a fairly unreliable narrator who can barely hold on to her humanity. If that isn’t gripping for a MC, I don’t know what is.
The supporting cast of The Falconer is also wonderful. Kiaran, her mentor and trainer, is your typical dark and brooding man of the shadows. We know almost next to nothing about him. He is fae, he hunts his own kind (Why? Great question.), his is devious, tricky, mysterious, and incredibly powerful. Oh, and Kiaran is a king of banter. It’s wonderful.
“Must you question everything?”
“Aye,” I say. “It delights me to annoy you whenever possible.”
Contrast that with Derrick, Aileana’s pixie. He is a sassy little minx who calls it like he sees it, has a temper, and gets drunk on honey with the most amazing results. I love every scene Derrick is in, even when he is throwing a complete fit. Then throw in some human characters like the not-as-naive-as-she-looks-best-friend-who-always-has-your-back-and-blindly-trusts you (Catherine) and the best-friends-older-brother-you-crushed-on-as-a-little-girl-who-just-got-back-from-school-and-is-all-hot-and-grown-up (Gavin) and the party is really started.
Now, I might have just described approximately half a dozen tropes before this paragraph, but fret not! May does a great job twisting these tropes just enough to keep you engaged and keep you on your toes. In fact, the pacing is so spot on the only reason I didn’t read this in a single setting was that I had to sleep. Silly sleep. So yes, this is more of a brain-candy pop-beach read of a YA dark fantasy, but it filled me with soooo much joy. #GuiltPleasure Plus, as I mentioned above, there is banter. So. Much. Witty. Banter.
“Well,” I say brightly, “we’re getting along splendidly, aren’t we? Glad to see we are all becoming friends over your mutually violent desires.”
I only had a few things I struggled with– in particular, I would have loved to see more repercussions of Aileana’s double life as a Lady and a Falconer get her into more trouble. Not bigger trouble, just more frequent little things. While she was often found in situations not becoming of her station, we saw Aileana’s side almost exclusively. I would have loved to hear more about the rumors, or seen more interactions with sassy debutants who hated her. The end of this book was also one of the most brutal cliffhangers I’ve ever read.
I have seen a lot of reviews which skewer this series for being a mimic of Fever by Karen Marie Moning. I DNF’d book one in that series, Darkfever. I felt like it was poorly written with flat characters and a plot which was supposed to be gripping but just fell flat. I was also not into the hypersexualized content, and the protagonist was such an annoying self-absorbed Barbie doll I wanted to push her off a cliff. So! If you are a fan of Fever, this might not be your bag. But, if you felt even half as passionately about Fever as I do, you should check out The Falconer. Immediately.
What do you think?
- Have you read The Falconer books thus far? What do you think? Are you looking forward to the release of The Fallen Kingdom?
- What are your favorite steampunk novels?
- Have you read the Fever series? What do you think of those books? Can you think of any other read-alikes?
- What are your reading guilty pleasures?