The Falconer

May 26, 2017
The Falconer Book Cover The Falconer
The Falconer, #1
Elizabeth May
Chronicle Books
May 6th, 2014
September 19th, 2013

She's a stunner.

Edinburgh, 1844. Eighteen-year-old Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, has everything a girl could dream of: brains, charm, wealth, a title—and drop-dead beauty.

She's a liar.

But Aileana only looks the part of an aristocratic young lady. she's leading a double life: She has a rare ability to sense the sìthíchean—the faery race obsessed with slaughtering humans—and, with the aid of a mysterious mentor, has spent the year since her mother died learning how to kill them.

She's a murderer.

Now Aileana is dedicated to slaying the fae before they take innocent lives. With her knack for inventing ingenious tools and weapons—from flying machines to detonators to lightning pistols—ruthless Aileana has one goal: Destroy the faery who destroyed her mother.

She's a Falconer.

The last in a line of female warriors born with a gift for hunting and killing the fae, Aileana is the sole hope of preventing a powerful faery population from massacring all of humanity. Suddenly, her quest is a lot more complicated. She still longs to avenge her mother's murder—but she'll have to save the world first.

The first volume of a trilogy from an exciting new voice in young adult fantasy, this electrifying thriller combines romance and action, steampunk technology and Scottish lore in a deliciously addictive read.

(via Goodreads)


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?


  • YAandWine May 26, 2017 at 7:50 pm

    I really enjoyed this series. It’s a four star for me as well. I loved the setting and found the characters to be fun and charming. Great review!

    • Jackie B May 30, 2017 at 9:10 am

      Thanks, Krysti! Charming is a great way to describe these characters. They all captured my heart, even Kiaran. Are you looking forward to the final book’s release in June?

  • Books, Vertigo and Tea May 26, 2017 at 9:23 pm

    Ok Jackie.. I am not even trying to front. I jumped over to Amazon and purchased this on the Kindle within seconds of completing your review! I am head over hills with the idea of steampunk and paranormal sharing the stage! The setting sounds so fabulous and I did not find your small list of issues to be of an major concern so I am pretty excited! Combine that with the twisted tropes, yep I am in 🙂

    • Jackie B May 30, 2017 at 9:16 am

      !!! I convinced you to try reading a YA paranormal book?! Oh my goodness. Stop the presses! I’m making progress through the second book, and I see these tropes twisted even a bit more. It was really interesting to see how May set up her characters to have drastic changes in book 2. There are some great moments ahead.

      I look forward to hearing what you think about it. I hope I did not lead you astray!

    • Grab the Lapels May 30, 2017 at 6:21 pm

      Are you really into steampunk books in older settings? I’ve reccommneded this book to a few people, but perhaps not you: try Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell. It’s a steampunk Cinderella re-telling.

      • Jackie B May 31, 2017 at 5:36 pm

        It’s already on my TBR thanks to you. Have you read it yet, or is it still waiting around? Perhaps Danielle will read it eventually, too!

    • Grab the Lapels May 30, 2017 at 6:23 pm

      Jackie, did you say this is the second or third book? I hope you caught up so it all makes sense! And I’m assuming there must be another book if there was such a cliffhanger.

      As for comparing series: I don’t like it. I mentioned Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell above. She wrote a re-telling of Cinderella with a steampunk bent. A lot of people were mad, claiming it was stealing from the previous published book Cinder. However, Cornwell had a contract signed for her book before the author of Cinder did, and they’re not even the same! One is a robot, the other is a girl who creates steampunk machines. *sigh* Readers need to be…smarter….sometimes.

      • Jackie B May 31, 2017 at 5:35 pm

        This is the first book in the series– but I picked it up because I got approved on NetGalley for the 3rd book in the series, without realizing it was a series. So, here I am. Starting from the beginning. 😀 I am about to pick up the third book, so it’s an easy series to read.

        I completely agree with you about not comparing series. Fans just like to throw stones in defense of their favorite books. Often without researching. There were just SOOOO many comments in my brief glimpse at Goodreads/Amazon about the comparison, I felt I needed to address it.

  • Dani May 27, 2017 at 2:25 pm

    This must have been a big problem because I found the first book on netgalley and now I’m so glad I requested it! It sounds amazing!

    • Jackie B May 29, 2017 at 3:01 pm

      Haha– I’m glad I’m not alone with this! I was a really fun book. I have so many books on my TBR, but I’m totally reading the next book immediately so I can figure out what happens. Thanks for stopping by and joining in the conversation, Dani!

  • Birdie May 28, 2017 at 2:49 pm

    I’m one of those Fever fans, but this still sounds interesting. I love the idea of the Steampunk added to the paranormal, which isn’t like Fever at all! I think this would also be a great book for my daughter. I’m going to check out getting it for her.

    • Jackie B May 30, 2017 at 9:18 am

      I’m glad to hear it! What do you like about Fever? Sometimes, I feel like DNF’ing book one in a series does a great disservice to the series as a whole. I’d love to better understand why you are a fan.

      And, yes, as I mentioned this book is significantly less sexualized than what I read of Fever. There is still romance and violence, after all we are dealing with the fae, but it’s fairly mellow. I hope that your Chick enjoys it!

  • theorangutanlibrarian June 1, 2017 at 4:30 pm

    Ah I’d find that annoying if that happened to me too- I’m glad you were able to get hold of the first one at the library- especially cos this book sounds super cool and I love the sound of the setting and mc!! And I’ve not read that Fever series, so I definitely want to check this one out!!

    • Jackie B June 1, 2017 at 7:03 pm

      Right?! I was so furious for NetGalley for not sharing the fact that this was a series, but, well, I think it all turned out for the best. I really hope that you enjoy this book when you read it. I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

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