The Falconer by Elizabeth May, published by Gollancz on 26th September 2013
Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, was destined for a life carefully planned around Edinburgh’s social events – right up until a faery killed her mother.
Now it’s the 1844 winter season and Aileana slaughters faeries in secret, in between the endless round of parties, tea and balls. Armed with modified percussion pistols and explosives, she sheds her aristocratic facade every night to go hunting. She’s determined to track down the faery who murdered her mother, and to destroy any who prey on humans in the city’s many dark alleyways.
But the balance between high society and her private war is a delicate one, and as the fae infiltrate the ballroom and Aileana’s father returns home, she has decisions to make. How much is she willing to lose – and just how far will Aileana go for revenge?
'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!