Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #59: The Falconer

Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #59: The FalconerThe Falconer by Elizabeth May
Series: The Falconer #1
Published by Gollancz on September 26, 2013
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Historical, Romance, Steampunk
Pages: 312
Format: Hardcover
Source: Gifted
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three-half-stars

One girl's nightmare is this girl's faery tale. 

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 the rare ability to sense the sìthichean — 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 abilities and 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 the 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.

Recommended by: Ellis (Finding Bliss in Books/The Random Transliterator)

Elizabeth May is totally awesome, and so I really wanted to read her book. This order of events has totally ruined me before, but in this case all ended well. I enjoyed The Falconer from the beginning to the end, and pretty much need book two immediately after that ending. The Falconer is full of action, has an incredibly awesome heroine, and is sure to delight fans of Joss Whedon’s work.

Aileana is totally badass. I know this description gets overused, but she’s like a nineteenth century Buffy. Only she’s better than Buffy, because she’s really smart too. Not only can she wield weapons like a pro, but she’s also an inventor (of more weapons). She is, however, endearingly terrible at being the little high society lady she’s meant to be. The blurb makes her sound like such a prickish princess, but she totally hates her title and just wants to spend all of her time killing. In fact, the blurb says she “only looks the part of an aristocratic young lady,’ but actually she doesn’t look that much like one to society, since they totally think she killed her mom and she’s always disappearing from balls with a headache and returning disheveled.

Rarely does a heroine get off on killing quite as much as Aileana does. Watching her slay fae is a thing of beauty, it really is. She loves fighting, both knowing her own strength and skills and the rush of power she gets when the fae dies. In fact, her love of killing fae has left her reputation (and much of her wardrobe) in tatters, because she keeps running out of balls to go kill some. May also doesn’t make the battles too easy, which I love. Aileana is often in real danger, and she gets hurt a lot.

When Aileana isn’t killing faeries, she’s hanging out with her bestie, Catherine. I can tell that I’ve been reading too much YA when I kept expecting Catherine to turn on Aileana. Actually, this is undeserved, because Catherine is an awesome friend, who listens to Aileana and offers to beat down snotty debutantes to preserve Aileana’s honor. They are so bantery and adorable. In fact, all the characters are quite bantery, so you know I was a happy girl.

Though I’m usually most in love with the characters, what I liked best was the world. Historical Scotland, though much featured in romance novels, if the kilts on the covers are any indication of what’s underneath (OH MY), isn’t a time period I’ve encountered in YA. I squeed every time Aileana said “wee” or “aye” by the way, because my love of accents is absurdly high. Add steampunk into nineteenth century Scotland, and I’m a goner. Then, on top of that, we have faeries, but they’re not namby pamby boring faeries; they are killer, evil faeries, which YES.

So…that ending. Where was it? The Falconer basically just trails off mid-fight scene, leaving the reader sputtering and flipping around to make sure there wasn’t another page that got skipped or something. This cliffhanger is mean. I am not a fan of this sort of cliffhanger. In fact, cliffhanger seems to mild of a term, considering that it just cuts off partway through a scene. I really feel like each book in a series should close out some a smaller story arc while advancing the larger one, but this book doesn’t close out anything. The Falconer could easily have been a hundred pages longer, allowing for a bit more of a slow burn from the romance and time to close out a small story arc, and it would have been perfection.

Based on some things I’ve seen Elizabeth May say on Twitter (god, I sound like such a stalker, but let’s move past that), I think I’ll only like this series more as it continues. It’s only going to get darker and more painful from here, and, yes, I want that.

Favorite Quote:

“In what way could keeping me in ignorance be construed as protection?” I straighten a piece of wire to add to the fire-starter. “God spare me from such protection especially when it involves safeguarding my poor feminine sensibilities from life-saving information.”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

What will happen if I set my sights on the sequel

What will happen if I set my sights on the sequel


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27 responses to “Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #59: The Falconer”

  1. Ellis says:

    KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN KIARAN
    Ellis recently posted…The Fathomable Future of the Delirium DissectionsMy Profile

  2. Meg says:

    YES. SUCH A BUFFY. A MEDIEVAL, SCOTTISH, FAE-SLAYING BUFFY.

    Describing badass people as badass can never be overused because badassness is the badassest and it transcends non-badass things like over-using words.

    The fight scenes were the greatest. You know how I feel about kicking ass and violence in general so this was just an straight orgy of yes for me. I too appreciated the fact that Aileana gets hurt. I get bored of the LOOK AT ME I JUST DESTROYED A BUNCH OF MONSTEROUS THINGS AND HAVE NARY A SCRATCH BECAUSE I AM JUST THAT AMAZING (and possibly my author wasn’t into the icky, painful wound side of the battle stuff).

    This is a fantastic review Christina and it has made me want to drop everything and reread The Falconer bc omggggg I love Aileana, but I can’t help but notice a DISTINCT LACK OF KIARAN. WHERE IS THE KIARAN? MOAR KIARAN.
    Meg recently posted…Cuddlebuggery SurveyMy Profile

    • Meg says:

      Not really medieval but WHATEVER OKAY. OLDEN TIMES IS THE THING I WAS TRYING TO SAY.
      Meg recently posted…Cuddlebuggery SurveyMy Profile

    • Ellis says:

      HABANA ORGY OF YES I HAVE TAUGHT YOU WELL
      Ellis recently posted…The Fathomable Future of the Delirium DissectionsMy Profile

      • Christina Franke says:

        Okay, so I guess that I see the Piz thing, but I really don’t have a read on anyone enough yet to ship them. I’m open to either ship, honestly. I mostly just want to know WHAT HAPPENS NEXT BECAUSE THINGS WERE HAPPENING AND THEN POOF.

        Oh good, I am glad I can keep badass badass badassily.

        BAHAHAHAHA. I hope you used that description in your review. Oh my god the worst is when it’s this massive battle in like two pages and then it’s over and what was that and no one is hurt but the enemies. SO INTENSE.

        Um, okay. So Kiaran. Yeah, he’s cool, but I am just not sure about the ship, and I didn’t know what to say about that. SO here we are.

  3. Ellis says:

    I’m sorry if that comment looked like spam but there was such a shocking absence of him in your review – seriously, KIARAN, WHERE ARE YOU? Did someone hide you behind a Brandon Sanderson book? – that I felt I had to rectify that.

    Okay, for serious now. It’s funny because we seem to like this book for completely different reason. I’m more like “the world – meh”, “Aileana – meh” (until the second half, we’re she fortunately became very non-meh) and “Kiaran – YUSSS” (while you’re obviously very meh on him. So meh that he doesn’t even get a mention sob sob sob. My prammen are calm, I swear.)

    “pretty much need book two immediately after that ending.” –> YES

    “she’s always disappearing from balls with a headache and returning disheveled.” –> When you put it like that, it sounds like she’s always running of for some canoodling. Sometimes this is the case. Sometimes it’s canoodling between Fae and the pointy end of her weapons.

    “I squeed every time Aileana said “wee” or “aye”” –> YES. I loved the the language. I love how it helps make the setting feel more authentic. Okay, so with being meh on the world, I mean that I love love adore the setting, but am not all that impressed with the handling of Fae mythology, as in, there isn’t enough exposition. It just gets dumped at the end of the book in bestiary-form and I was not a happy camper. (Keep in mind that I actually do enjoy camping, so there’s a difference between me being a camper and me being an unhappy camper.)

    In any case, I’m glad you enjoyed it! If the second book (tentatively named The Kiaran so you’d better recognise) pulls the same shenanigans as the first, i.e. it gets published months earlier in the Europeans than in the Americas, it will find its way to you nonetheless.

    P.S. I’m not that upset about the lack of Kiaran.
    P.P.S. Habana at you thinking you come across as a stalker.
    Ellis recently posted…The Fathomable Future of the Delirium DissectionsMy Profile

    • Meg says:

      It’s like a terrible Where’s Waldo because the Waldo is Kiaran and if he’s hiding I AM NOT HAVING FUN.

      SPEAKING OF THINGS THAT ARE MISSING YES PLEASE BOOK 2 NOW I WILL TRADE THIIIIIINGS. Forgot to mention that in my comment.

      “she’s always disappearing from balls with a headache and returning disheveled.” –> When you put it like that, it sounds like she’s always running of for some canoodling. Sometimes this is the case. Sometimes it’s canoodling between Fae and the pointy end of her weapons. <—- Both the original sentence and how Ellis took it are SO BUFFY.

      (SORRY I CAN'T GET AWAY FROM THE BUFFY COMPARISONS.)

      WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE. I love the word wee

      The Falconer 2: The Kiaraning

      Stalking is fine on twitter because it's twitter and not like you're in someone's bushes or anything. Right? RIGHT?
      Meg recently posted…Cuddlebuggery SurveyMy Profile

      • Ellis says:

        Not like you would ever track down someone’s bushes to hide in, right? RIGHT?
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        • Christina Franke says:

          Lol at Kiaran behind a Brandon Sanderson book. I AM SORRY I CANNOT SEE HIM BECAUSE ELEND.

          Well, okay, also, I felt like Kiaran was potentially spoilery? Like, IDK, I don’t like to assume a romance for the mentor guy and is he evil or not and stuff. Like, Kiaran is a barrel of fairy worms and I didn’t want to mess with that really, but no he wasn’t my favorite part. It was one of the hate/love, but not so much hate TO love. It’s just suddenly there and I’m looking around.

          Well, she always looks like she’s been canoodling is why her reputation is in as many tatters as her dresses. Well, that and you know HER MOM.

          TO me, being a camper is being unhappy, so it is reduntant. Okay, so I did not read the bestiary or whatever. Either I get it from the text or I don’t, but I was okay with it. Like, honestly, I will never read any content that is not part of the novel. If context won’t do it, then yeah no.

          The Buffy comparisons are hard to avoid, but apparently she was thinking Xena, which I have not seen. But it’s like the awesome parts of Buffy, without the bits that I hated like sex souls.

          Yeah, as long as no bush is involved, it’s cool. Right? Dear god.

  4. Ellis says:

    YES to Aileana getting hurt. I can’t believe I forgot to comment on that. Also because it leads to the hilarious Aileana on drugs scene which is the beginning of EVERYTHING. I also kind of want to reread but my copy is currently chilling with Judith. Sad.
    Ellis recently posted…The Fathomable Future of the Delirium DissectionsMy Profile

  5. Meg says:

    OMG ALSO WHERE IS DERRICK?! HONEY-DRUNK, CLOSET-DWELLING, PIXIE SEAMSTRESS FRIEND?! In my neverending Buffy comparison, he is Andrew (season 7 Andrew, obv)
    Meg recently posted…Cuddlebuggery SurveyMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      AHHHHH, I AM ACTUALLY UPSET I FORGOT DERRICK BECAUSE HE IS ADORBS AND WHEN HE IS DRUNK ON HONEY HABANA.

      lol Andrew.

  6. Meg says:

    This got a tad out of control and I apologize. I’m just so glad you enjoyed this book.
    Meg recently posted…Cuddlebuggery SurveyMy Profile

  7. Ellis says:

    Sorry for the spam. We just really love you and this book and the fact that you liked this book and your review and Kiaran. And yes, that is hierarchical order, if you must know.

    1. You
    2. Book, You liked Book, Review (all equals)
    3. Kiaran
    Ellis recently posted…The Fathomable Future of the Delirium DissectionsMy Profile

  8. Ingrid says:

    A medieval, Scottish Buffy? Now I have to read this! I remember this coming up on your Cover Snark once and thinking, “this looks half decent.” Now that you’ve reviewed this, I think I need to get my hands on it.The question is… will it get me out of the reading slump left by Fortune’s Pawn?

  9. Lyn Kaye says:

    LOL at the gif.

    This one seems to always worm onto my feed for bloggers. I always think I’ll buy it and never do. I suppose I should get on board and read it.
    Lyn Kaye recently posted…Book Review: The Riverman by Aaron StarmerMy Profile

  10. Kelly says:

    Medieval Buffy eh?

    How awful is it that we’ve been conditioned to believe the best friend is waiting to twist the knife in the best friend’s back? Glad to hear that wasn’t the case here!

    Not sure how, but this is the first I’m hearing of The Falconer. It definitely won’t be the last though!
    Kelly recently posted…Keeping Up With the Blogosphere: February EditionMy Profile

  11. Anya says:

    >.> Joss Whedon you say?? Historical Scotland you say?? Killing fae you say??????? *signs up*
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  12. I can’t wait to read this one! It’s so rare that you get true female friendship in YA without some sort of drama and it sucks, so I’m really happy to hear that this friendship is worth the time. It’s always a plus to have a Scottish setting AND actual self serving/evil Fae. Great review!
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  13. ooooh oh. This just sounds all kinds of awesome! Even with only a 3.5 Rating I MUST get my hands on this one. and yea uh… Accents are my weakness so . yes… yes please! Thank you for sharing your review! .. And the TBR towers just a little higher.

  14. Angie says:

    So late commenting on this but I never read reviews before I read the book and I am so glad I’m not the only one who saw the BtVS aspects of this. BUFFY BUT SMARTER ALL THE WAY. Not to mention the Kiaran/Angel parallels. Such a promising debut, even with the non-ending.

    I can’t wait for the sequel. SHE HAD ME AT DARKER AND MORE PAINFUL.
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