This book is the second book in the trilogy The Falconer. My review contains minor marked spoilers for this book and for book one, The Falconer. My review of The Falconer can be found here.
OH MAN. This book begins very differently than I expected it to. I didn’t know what on earth I thought of it when I started, but after fifty pages or so… Where do I even begin? The beginning I guess…
After our killer cliffhanger in The Falconer, I was actually really shocked with how the book began. I expected the book to pick up immediately where it left off. When it didn’t, I’ll admit, I was a bit disappointed. Time has passed and we never get to figure out how Aileana
I’m not a creature of vengance any more. I’m not just the girl whose gift is chaos. I’m the girl who endured.
One thing I *did* like about the beginning of The Vanishing Throne is how suddenly Aileana went from a SUPER reliable (if filled with self-doubt) narrator to an unreliable one. Through her imprisonment and torture, Aileana is ceasing to trust her mental faculties. May did an amazing job pulling the reader along on Aileana’s journey where even the reader was questioning Aileana’s reality. Then her PTSD from this experience haunts her throughout the remainder of this novel. The way that we experience Aileana’s resilience and fear simultaneously is absolutely brilliant. May is a strong author, that’s for sure.
The Vanishing Throne is even darker, more gloomy, and quite grim compared to The Falconer. We are thrust suddenly into a world torn apart by magic and war when we were expecting (hoping?) for peace and prosperity. Instead of the focus of the novel being on a debutant seeking revenge from the fae, our focus shifts to that of human survival and the impact of the fae on that survival. Yes. It’s just as intense as it sounds.
We burn bright, and we burn out. That’s what it means to be human.
The majority of this book is spent exploring character development and relationships in this darker setting. As you all know, I *adore* character development, so I was hooked. This isn’t everyone’s cuppa, however. So, if you are more into plot, you might think the middle of this book drags. On the contrary- I loved it. And this is where I got hooked again.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Aithinne. She is a wonderful new voice as Kiaran’s humanized, slightly loony, sister. Just like Derrick, she provides a levity desperately needed. While Derrick’s humor is often sarcastic and intention, Aithinne’s humor is only intentional when poking fun at her brother. Otherwise, most of her humor is accidental and flows from her tentative grasp on sanity. Plus, this additional female protagonist means there are quite a few women who interact together throughout this book. The feminist in me is soooo happy.
Aithinne smiles. “You know,” she says thoughtfully, “your hair rather looks like an octopus.” Then, as if to reassure me: “I love octopi.”
And Aithinne is obviously a bit barmy, but nobody’s perfect.
As the book progresses, May explores the pasts of all our characters. New friendships are formed, others are continued– Even lighthearted Derrick’s horrible past is revealed to us. While we do get a TON more about Aileana and Kiaran, May has blown me away with the depth she’s given all her secondary characters. To the point there Aileana and Kiaran are primary characters ONLY because the story is from Aileana’s POV. I’m not kidding (
World building also improved a lot in this novel. As May’s characters leave Edinburgh behind we get to see so much more of Scotland, fae lore, and the influence of the fae on the world. Suddenly our setting has expanded and is much more rich and lush. That said, for me, here is where things dragged a bit. We needed to learn A LOT about the fae for our plot to push forward. This makes sense. May doesn’t a great job giving us the information piece by piece… and there is a ton of foreshadowing to the relevant fae lore. But we still had far too much lecture for my taste. The lecture was necessary (almost every character is guilty of explaining something to Aileana at some point in the novel), unfortunately. May does a great job showing us, but if we don’t know what we are looking for… well, it’s hard to see. While I wasn’t as interested, I understand why it was there. And I imagine my next read through will be even more frustrating because I’ll be able to see everything that time. <shrugs> But, we shall see.
Aithinne makes her way across the larger beach rocks toward us, her movements graceful. “You both look miserable.”
“I’m cold and wet,” I say. “I feel wretched, and my blunderbuss is probably destroyed from the swim. No need to state the obvious.”
She glances at her brother. “And I suppose your face is just stuck that way?”
Kiaran pushes to his feet and I do the same. “What you see is the incessant, grave look of someone in possession of a sibling.”
All in all, a wonderful story with three-dimensional characters and a gripping plot. If you like badass women, fae, and witty banter- this is a series for you.
I can’t wait for our conclusion in The Fallen Kingdom.
What do you think?
- Do you prefer character development or driving plot when reading?
- What other books featuring fae have you been reading?
- Do you think that paranormal fiction is still popular, or is it waning?