The Falconer | Thoughts
This rating might be harsh, as I can think of several things I liked about The Falconer, but after finishing last night and waking up still incredibly annoyed, the best I can do is set it to Goodreads' 3 star instead of flat 2.
Aileana is a likable, believable heroine. After witnessing her mother's savage murder a year ago, she's been training to kill the Baobhan sìth—the fae seductress—who committed the act. Her reputation is in tatters as most of her peers believe she murdered her mother, and she is trying to balance a daylight life of propriety and socializing with a night life of hunting and killing the fae.
Aiding her is Kiaran, a high fae of sorts—sìthichean, as he prefers to be called—though why he has been helping her track down and kill his own kind is a mystery. They've kept their distance personally, sharing only the hunt and training, until the night much more powerful fae begin crossing their path. With an impossible mission now set before her, Aileana has a matter of days to prepare for the battle of her life...and she is nowhere near ready.
"Laughing bitterly, I say, 'I'm glad you weren't there. She could have broken me so easily if she wanted to. I can't believe I let her—.'
I stop, unable to say the words. I can't believe I let her weaken me again. I can't believe I let her murder my mother again. I can't believe I let Kiaran get in my way."
I quite liked Derrick, a pixie that has taken up residence in Aileana's dressing room. He is a fun little companion, and I found myself smiling at many of his snarky comments. He is fiercely protective of Aileana, despising Kiaran for unknown reasons.
"'Oh good, he's finally here. I believe I vowed to tear out his innards.'"
So, getting into my issues now. The pacing is rocky, jumping from tense moments between characters to "all is forgiven" seconds later. Emotional build up to outbursts and breakdowns is unconvincing, though the story reads quickly and I never found it dragging. There are not many explanations of anything. Granted, I know this aids to the mystery of it all, but at a certain point in every story the MC (and the reader) need to be enlightened. This includes the very language used. I appreciate the authenticity of nouns like baobhan sìth, sìthichean, and sgian-dubh, and while I pride myself on excellent pronunciation of several languages, Gaelic is not one of them. So if you're going to throw that much Gaelic into your story, one of those nice little glossaries would have been a good reference so I wasn't saying baobhan sìth like "Bay-oh-baan Sith." (That one's pronounced "Bah-van shee" by the way, so I butchered it the entire time until I finally caved and went to Google)
Moving on. Steampunk is a genre I've tried to get into on occasion, but haven't had much success. Endless gadgets, flying contraptions, steam locomotives with a million switches and buttons...I like to keep these to a very bare minimum. Luckily, the elements in The Falconer worked well-enough for me, and there's an interesting tie-in at the end with technology and astronomy. Still, there were some odd clashes, mostly when steampunk met folklore:
"I step into the locomotive and settle next to Kiaran, then flip the switches to start the engine. It comes to life with a mechanical whir and steam rises from the stack at the front."
Something about picturing this powerful fae being sitting next to her in battle dress, with swords, driving a steam car is just...off. Like I said...I don't really click with steampunk all the time.
But this brings me to my biggest issue...the end. Or lack thereof. I understand why cliffhangers are necessary, and if you want a great one, see Sarah J. Maas's A Court of Mist and Fury, wherein several main conflicts were concluded, yet we are left with the two halves of our heart split in different places, with so much left to do. AHH even just typing it here made me wail for book three!
Okay, FOCUS! *quietly tucks thoughts of ACOMAF away*
The Falconer concluded nothing; literally stopped mid-battle with every question hanging open in the air. We were given no answers at all—not about Kiaran, not on the outcome of the battle, not on the state of the city, not on who of her friends survived (if any)—and this is why I am so annoyed with this book.
I could have lived without an answer to Kiaran's survival, and really I assumed that's where book two would pick up. Is he alive and trapped? Tortured? Do we really know who he is at all, or should we be focusing on how everything he's taught us was not to trust him, because he has no humanity? The fact that I'm most upset about Kiaran tells me I was hooked on the romance of this story alone, and I am just dying for another Rhysand and Feyre.
"'I'm someone who has slayed for you, who pulled you from that river, saved your life, and taught you all the ways to kill me and mine. But never make the mistake of thinking I'm a man. I aid you because I've deemed it necessary to do so. I don't value honor.'"
Whatever you say, Kiaran, because this ship still sails for you. Hard.
I'll keep The Vanishing Throne on my radar as just a maybe.