Himself procured this one from the library and after devouring it more or less in one sitting, plonked it down in front of me with stern instructions to read it. So I did.
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.
Yes… the blurb does go on a bit – but it is worth including the whole thing because it neatly sums up Aileana’s issues. As an heiress and gentlewoman in a steampunk equivalent of the Victorian era, she is supposed to waft about in corseted dresses designed to keep her physically helpless. But since her mother’s brutal murder and relentless training from Kiaran, a fae warrior who seems to have thrown his lot in with humanity – or at least with Aileana – she has become adept at hunting and killing fae who prey on humans. And her struggles to keep her conflicting worlds apart isn’t wholly successful, with some farcical interludes, though the humour fades as the book progresses.
What this isn’t is some bodice-ripping romance where the supernatural element is an excuse to introduce a totally hot stud for our heroine to swoon over. Not that there isn’t a hot stud, but he’s disturbingly alien and savage – Tinkerbell he ain’t… We are tipped into the middle of Aileana’s situation as her behaviour increasingly marks her apart and makes her a target for gossip as she isn’t behaving appropriately.
Inevitably she has to make some hard choices in this fast-paced, surprisingly gritty story that completely drew me in. I like the fact she has been traumatised by witnessing her mother’s bloody murder and that incident has defined her behaviour as she seeks revenge – and in doing so, she has discovered she very much enjoys killing fae. However there are moments of humour as she has a small faery living in her dressing room. Derrek has appointed himself as her protector and loathes Kiaran, so there are some amusing scenes where he is vowing to revenge himself on the formidable warrior.
I read this one in three greedy gulps as the world drew me in and wouldn’t let me go – and we’ve now ordered the second one from the library. In the meantime, if you enjoyed Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone series, while there are a lot of differences, the intense writing style and punchy heroine reminds me of that world. Highly recommended.