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3.9 out of 5 stars36
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 5 January 2014
The idea of the book was a sound one and could have been a fantastic one, it's three of my favourite types of books rolled into one - Steampunk, Paranormal (the Fae in this case) Fantasy and Historical Fiction. A Steampunk Edinburgh of 1844 full of faeries, sounds like fun and to a certain extent it really was. The melding of the historical and the steampunk was very cool and quite well done. The faeries (the sìthichean) are as evil and selfish as faeries really should be. Th book as a whole just didn't quite hit the mark for me unfortunately.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying this book is terrible as I did quite enjoy reading it. I loved the idea of throwing the Steampunk twist into the mix and setting it in an alternate version of the past did make the book stand-out against others of this type but my problem was that it just didn't live up to my expectations of it. Maybe that was me expecting too much. The biggest flaw in the whole book was the ending though but more on that in a bit.

In conclusion The Falconer is perfectly readable and quite enjoyable to a point but when it comes down to it the whole book was more than a bit spoiled by a rather bizarre ending. Yes, leave the book on a cliffhanger to make the reader buy and read the next book in a series but what on earth possessed the author to leave this book right in the middle of a battle, in the middle of all the action? You're gearing up to a great finale when it just stops dead, just a plain odd place to stop at that and I had to double check that I had the whole book with mine, being a proof copy of the book I did have to wonder, but no that is definitely where the author wanted to stop. Such a silly ending seriously affects the way you feel about the book when you've finished it, it's a very unsatisfying and you're left feeling very bemused and thinking 'huh?'. Very odd indeed and it really doesn't encourage me to read the next book when it comes out at all and that's very disappointing!
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on 12 June 2016
Read it then got the sequel, can't wait for the next one. I began thinking it was set in our world but it is set in a parallel world with some interesting twists that appear as the book moves along. Love it.
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on 1 September 2014
Its OK. I was actually looking forward to this as it seemed to be different. An unusual character and setting with evil fey creatures in Victorian (?) Scotland. However I found it heavy going.
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on 15 January 2016
If you're looking for an ultra slow, poorly written murder of a half decent idea this is it. The only thing this book has to recommend it is it's interesting concept - a faery battle set in a fantasy version of Edinburgh, which I'm sure we can all get on board with fairly easily.
However, pretty much every detail about Edinburgh must have been created from May's imagination, including the curious hybrid of American and southern English speech patterns. As a Soct myself, I was torn between being mildly embarrassed and outright insulted.
Further, by page 17 I was already rooting for the faeries seeking to kill this truly infuriating heroine. If you thought Kristen Stewart was a wooden board, meet her twin: a flat, moody character who is fixated on her past, Aileana Kameron (obviously belonging to a misspelled branch of the CAMERONs) is apparently the most selfish girl in Scotland. If I had to read about her "desire for the kill" and bloodthirsty sociopathic monologues only once on a page I was lucky - ok, we get the message loud and clear! She's an obsessive serial killer.
And who can forget the complete morons who obviously made up Scottish aristocratic society? Apparently all Aileana's friends and peers are blind, since she seems to be able to stroll through ballrooms in torn, bloody gowns, looking like hell with no one noticing until it works for the necessary plot device.
The love triangle, because the genre doesn't have enough of those already, is stereotypical, adding next to no drama/suspense/reason to continue reading.
So the book's only real saving grace is that the concept is an ok (even interesting?) idea. Sadly, this is not enough to save it from being the kind of uninspiring stereotype that puts people off fantasy as a genre. Aye, an attempt that falls sadly short of the mark.
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on 9 February 2014
If you think you’ve read too many faerie books, well, think again because there’s one book that’s an absolutely must read this year. The Falconer is the freshest, most well-crafted story I’ve read in a while, faeries or not. You will be delighted to enter Lady Aileana Kameron’s gritty, steampunky world.

To be fair, my first status update on this was that I haven’t even started the book and was already overwhelmed with excitement. I can’t thank enough the person who put this book into my hands. The story takes place in Scotland in 1844, but instead of living like the daughter of a Marquess and trying to find a husband at a ball, Aileana secretly invents steampunk arsenal and gets rid of faeries at night. And by ‘gets rid of’, I mean she kills.

See, Aileana has been the subject of a lot of whispers among the Scottish aristocracy ever since she was found traumatized over her mother’s bloody corpse. What they don’t know is that Lady Douglas was murdered by a fae and Aileana now spends her nights being trained to kill as many as possible in her quest for revenge with help of Kiaran McKay, a fae who kills his own kind for reasons unknown. The fae in this world are mostly ruthless and bloodthirsty creatures trying to escape their eternal prison, and I loved every time they collided with the normal world because it resulted in incredible action sequences. My personal favourite was an unplanned escape from the ball which was seriously thrilling!

At the very crux of this book though is Aileana’s revenge, which is why it uniquely stood out for me. Usually, the hero is motivated by survival or fear or living a better life. Aileana is motivated almost solely by this vengeance that consumes her every action, and the story emotionally resonates because of it. She’s a fab heroine, seemingly fearless, remarkable fighter, and fiercely loyal to her friends, but she’s also a vulnerable girl, dealing with the loss of her mother, her strained relationship with her father and society, and those hardships that come with love.

That being said, my favourite thing about this book is it basically takes all those tropes you love to hate and makes you want more of them. Yes, there is a kick-ass heroine, a love triangle, a brooding leading man, a wise-cracking sidekick and even an arranged marriage, but I absolutely loved it all because Elizabeth May is an absolute genius at characterisation, action and plotting. The stand-out character for me is Gavin, Aileana’s childhood crush, brother of her best friend and all around awesome guy. Plus he’s got this cool ability which I think makes him and Aileana the perfect match (plus, their banter is SO good). I also really loved Derrick, a little pixie that lives in Aileana’s wardrobe, who is cynical, (un)helpful and gets drunk off honey.

As the book builds its way up to an epic climax, there is not one dull moment—you will enjoy every minute of it. My only warning is that it has probably the cruellest cliffhanger ending I’ve read to date, but that only fuels my excitement for the next book. Highly, highly recommended.
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on 23 November 2013
In this novel May has laid to rest the fairytale clichés of dresses and wands, replacing them

with foul, fiendish fairies to be feared. Not only that, she has given us a feisty, intelligent

and dedicated young protagonist who refuses to be a damsel in distress; who shows us that,

despite other people pulling you down, you can get up and try harder to achieve what you

want to.

We accompany Aileana through her trials in trying to shrug off the accusations of being

her mother's murderer, continuously trying to keep up `a pleasant demeanour and an

incandescent smile' while trying to track her mother's true killer.

May has really captured the two sides of Aileana's life; from the balls and finding a suitor to

the death threatening duels with power hungry fairies, horrifying hounds and skull crushing

red- caps . We are shown that despite the physical injuries of the latter the constant lies

of the former are harder for Ailleana as after all she is only a teenage girl who wants to be

able to be herself and not a perfect lady of society.

The funny characters (like Derrick the pixie who describes himself as `quite handsome to

the ladies' and enjoys the smell of rose cleaning detergent) make you snort and the many

secrets and outbursts make you gasp aloud.

The setting of the book added to the enjoyment as I have never read a book that combined

a Victorianesque setting with steam punk in Scotland. It is an unusual combination but

works as you are surprised when Aileana whips out yet another powerful invention on the


This book tore me away from revision as I found it hard to stop reading. I went into this

book dubiously as I was unsure of what to expect but came out pleasantly surprised at how

good it was and in the end yearning to know the rest of the story. I give you this advice, be

prepared to feel melancholy when you realise how long you have to wait to finish hearing

Ailena's story. Right now 2014 seems decades away
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on 10 November 2013
'The Falconer' has been one of my most eagerly awaited debuts of the year. It's a stunning mix of fantasy and steampunk with a historical setting and the addition of evil faeries. The story rockets along, particularly in the second half, at breakneck speed and there is so much drama, tension and excitement packed into the book that you'll find yourself on the edge of your seat, biting your nails down to the quick.

Set in Edinburgh, the story features one of the best heroines that I've come across this year. Aileana Kameron is an aristocrat. The only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, she tries to pretend an interest in balls and dancing and all the other things that go along with her position but secretly leads a double life. She is determined to avenge her mother's death by killing the faerie that brutally murdered her mother and ripped out her heart. It soon becomes apparent how different Aileana is when she tracks and kills an evil faerie at a ball she is attending before the creature can ruthlessly kill one of the other guests. Aileana is a marvellous protagonist. She is not interested in trivial matters and although she tries her best to kept her father appeased, she is far more worried about protecting the city she loves and the people who live in it.

She has a complicated relationship with her fae mentor, Kiaran Mackay. He is a complex figure in the book and I feel like I have so much more to learn about him. He is not always forthcoming about himself and he seems to be hiding a lot of secrets but he and Aileana work well together and there are hints of romance in their future.

I adored Derrick the pixie who lives in Aileana's dressing room. He has an addiction to honey which often leads him to become honey drunk but although he is small, he will do anything to protect and defend her. He has some of the best lines in the book and provides a nice dose of light relief to balance the darkness that Aileana faces on a daily basis. I definitely want a pixie just like him!

This is the first book in a trilogy but I can't believe that I've now got to wait for the next instalment! I hope Elizabeth May writes very, very fast!
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The Falconer is Elizabeth May's debut novel and is a historical fantasy that has a quite a lot in common with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It's set in 1844 in an alternate Scotland, and is about Aileana Kameron, a noblewoman by day and a fae slayer by night. As soon as I started reading The Falconer, I was hooked - it's definitely my kind of book!

Aileana is a strong female character who I'm sure must have been influenced by my favourite vampire slayer. She's outspoken, tough and a dab hand with a crossbow, making killing faeries an easier task than you'd think. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know her and, thanks to May's characterisation, she's a realistic heroine who owns every page she appears on. I've also found myself with a soft spot for Kiaran, Aileana's faery friend and trainer. He has more secrets than even he knows about and he's doing his best to keep her alive and out of trouble. His story is a fascinating one and I'd love to delve deeper into his background, one that literally spans thousands of years. Oh, the stories he could tell.

Although I'm a big fan of Aileana, the star of the show for me is Derrick, a little pixie who lives in her closet. He has a penchant for honey and a skill for fixing her clothes - everything you could want in a tiny faery! He has a fantatic rivalry with Kiaran and some of the insulting lines he comes out with had me laughing out loud. I hope he features heavily in future books in the series, honey pot and all.

The Falconer is full of all my favourite things: faeries, action, history and a sprinkling of steampunk. There's advanced weaponry that will blow your mind, healing agents like something from a sci-fi film and ornithopters that are just plain cool. I also liked the faerie bestiary included at the end which showcases the author's impressive knowledge of different faeries and their mythology. Elizabeth May is a talented new author to keep an eye on, though be warned: she likes to leave her readers with a maddening cliffhanger. Roll on book 2!
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on 17 October 2013
I first noticed this book when I heard the author was British, as I like to support 'local' authors when I can, and when I heard it was a historical fantasy set in Edinburgh (where I go to university) it really piqued my interest.

Aileana is attending her first ball after spending a year in mourning for her mother. The other ladies gossip when they think she isn't listening, speculating over the fact Aileana was found covered in blood beside her mother's body: a fact she has never explained. Aileana has changed a lot since then, learning how to hunt down and kill the faeries who most people can't see, alongside her mentor Kiaran. But now she's back in the limelight of society, with her every move scrutinised as she theoretically looks for a husband, it becomes much harder to keep hunting the fae. The action of the story kicks off straight away, with Aileana realising a faery is there at the party and going in search of it.

I love the world Elizabeth May creates in this book: part historic Scotland, filled with half-believed folklore, elaborate balls, and a city well on the way to becoming the Edinburgh we know today, and part alternate-world, with mechanical punch dispensers, flying ornithopters, and modified guns.

Something that surprised me about it was the length of time the story takes place over. I believe there's something like a week, or just over that, from the start to the finish. Sometimes this annoys me in books, but I think Ms May pulls it off in The Falconer - any relationships (family/friendship/other) that change or develop aren't sudden things - we're very much thrown in to the middle of Aileana's life, and the changes were more like instances of Aileana realising something that has been true for a while. There is enough of her past, pre-faery-fighting life worked in to the story that you can see how she has changed, and how that has affected her view of the people around her. There were a couple of times where I thought the action felt a little rushed with one thing happening after another, but it kept the tension high and made me keep turning the pages until the end.

I don't want to say too much more about the plot, because it really does go very quickly and it's more fun to read if you're trying to figure out what's coming next. I will give you a cliffhanger warning for the ending though - I went in to this book not knowing if it was a stand alone book or part of a series, and the ending is very abrupt. The first in a trilogy, I'm going to be very impatient waiting for the rest of this series!

'The Falconer' is a fantastic debut novel from Elizabeth May, leading the reader through a dark alternate-history Edinburgh full of things that will grab you in the night. I give this book 8 out of 10, and I'm very much looking forward to book 2.

[Review originally posted by me at my book blog, link in my profile.]
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VINE VOICEon 30 September 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
There is something Pulman-esque about this tale, set in an alternative Edinburgh in 1844. There are strange machines for serving tea, travelling the streets, and flying. They all seem to be worked by steam in some way. And there are faeries, or Sithichean.

It turns out that there is something special about Aileana Kameron (note the quirky spelling): she is a killer of faeries. This emerges early in the story and from there on it's a bloodbath for the fae folk of the Scottish capital.

I would say the heroine is very much in the Buffy, the Vampire Slayer mould; would probably not have existed without the programme. There are layers of emotion within the tale, more to do with violence than affection, though the latter develops as Aileana learns more about the lives of the faeries who help her.

It is a strange, alien fiction and not really the most comfortable. It is action packed and would be well-suited to screen adaptation.

The ending is abrupt, pitching the reader towards volume two. Unfortunately, volume two doesn't exist yet and thus the ending is unsatisfactory.
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