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Friday, June 19, 2015

Review: The Falconer by Elizabeth May

The Falconer 
Pages: 378
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Genre: Historical Fantasy/Steampunk
#1 in Series
Source: Purchased
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 Falconer is Elizabeth May's debut novel, an interesting take on the fae world that combines steampunk elements into a historical novel set in Scotland. I actually really liked the way May portrayed her faeries--as ugly and bloodthirsty--although we couldn't quite escape that 'unearthly beautiful' trope in Kiaran. The description for this book totally captured me, and I went into reading it hoping to find another steampunk novel that I could rave about to everyone. Unfortunately I didn't find that.

Something was off with the pace.
Something with the story is clearly off when I fall asleep reading it, not once, but twice. And I mean that literally--I fell right asleep with my Kindle in my hand in the middle of reading The Falconer. The could just be because I'm perpetually sleep deprived, but I've stayed up until 4am finishing other books before so I'm not sure I'm the problem. The strange thing is that things were happening--there was plenty of action. It's not like Aileana was sitting around twiddling her thumbs for 300 pages. It just wasn't engrossing for me. I think it comes down to a disconnect I felt with her character (and most of the characters in the novel, to be honest) that wasn't allowing me to really care what went on. There were dull moments, though, that I think were supposed to fill in Aileana's personality and give her a life outside of faery hunting but honestly I skimmed over those scenes.

Tragedy does not equal personality.
To bounce off my previous point, Aileana really didn't have a personality. She constantly spoke about how she was empty after her mother's death, and the only thing she lived for was to murder the fae and to avenger her mother's death. Quite frankly, an empty tunnel-visioned character like that isn't interesting to read about. After the 20th time of her informing the reader that she felt nothing but blood-lust and couldn't have a normal future like get married or whatever, it got stale. What are the stakes in her life? What does she have to lose? That's the interesting part that I felt totally bereft of and as a result, didn't care much about Aileana. Okay, she could die fighting fae. But she doesn't seem to care much, given she's so empty, according to her.

Steampunk was not explored.
I love steampunk. I think it offers so many opportunities for creativity and innovation, especially when reimagining the Victorian era. For example, I think The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross does that beautifully. This book? Not so much. Honestly, what was the point of the steampunk element? It did nothing besides give Aileana an excuse to use strange weapons of her own design. But other than that, it added nothing to the atmosphere or the setting that I felt required the steampunk element being there.

Will I be reading the sequel? If I have time, I hope I can. That'll judge whether I finish out the trilogy or not. I really wanted to enjoy this novel because from the description it had all the elements I love in a book. But, unfortunately it just didn't hit the mark for me. Was it horrible? No. Just very flawed. There were some redeeming qualities. For example, I liked Derrick, Aileana's little pixie friend that lives with her and mends her clothes in exchange for honey. And I did like Gavin, a childhood friend turned love interest, although he didn't totally light my fire, if ya know what I mean.

If you'd like to give this book a chance, go for it. But if you've read what I had to say and have doubts, I think it's better to skip out on The Falconer. Which is a shame, because I'm always looking for quality steampunk to read and recommend. But hey, the ebook is $0.99, so if you want to take the chance anyway, it's not much to lose, right?

2 out of 5 stars.

Barnes and Noble: Paperback | Hardcover | Nook

About the Author
Elizabeth May was born in California, where she lived during her formative years before moving to Scotland. She has a BA in Anthropology/Sociology from Marlboro College and a PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of St Andrews. When she isn’t writing, she can be found hiking through the Scottish highlands with a camera in hand.
She currently resides in Edinburgh, Scotland, with her husband. For more information, follow her on Twitter @_ElizabethMay or visit her website
This book was purchased by me off of Amazon in Kindle format using my own money. All views expressed above are solely my own.


  1. Thank you so much for your review and your honesty about this book! I've been feeling pretty meh about reading it for quite sometime. Your review has given me a new look on it!

    -Megan, Books of Fascination

  2. Honest and in depth review. I enjoyed reading it. A shame about the main character talking about her emptiness but not really showing what was at risk for her. Ive never read a steampunk or fae book, well Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare was a steampunk but thats about it. I would like to explore both genres more. Thanks for sharing and if there is a sequel I hope it gets better and that you enjoy it and they do the steampunk right!


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