Review: The Falconer/ Author: Elizabeth May / Publisher: Gollancz / Release Date: Out Now
Young Adult fiction tends to be a bit of a mash-up these days. The usual formula is to take as many cool ideas as possible and see how well they go together. Which probably explains why The Falconer is a Scottish-monster-hunting-steampunk-adventure-romance. A subgenre so long that it probably wouldn’t fit on the shelf at Waterstones.
The Falconer follows the adventures of Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas who, following the tragic and mysterious murder of her mother, has become a hunter of strange and sinister faeries. Sneaking her electro-shock flintlocks into her complicated Victorian frocks, and trying to fit the demands of being an aristocratic lady in with a busy schedule of beating up soul-eating horrors. Of course, she keeps her nocturnal hobbies away from the prying eyes of society, which makes the potential scandal even more delicious and helps further build the tension.
A ticking clock is established pretty early on, with the promise that the hideous faery creatures that have been trapped beneath the city of Edinburgh for decades and are slowly being unleashed onto an unsuspecting and relatively defenseless population. As you may expect, all the story elements here have been turned up to eleven; the steampunk elements include very high-tech machines such as automated drones and medical devices, the monsters are hideous and almost unstoppable, and the romance is frustrating, unobtainable and full of lip-quivering, hand-on-heart longing.
Elizabeth May spins a good tale, mixing the high concept elements in effortlessly with the action scenes to produce a rapid and engaging read. The Scottish backdrop really fits, and combined with the rather beautifully written action scenes, we get a strong cinematic feel that really does make one think that this would work very well as a movie (or at least a TV drama). The Falconer is a memorable bit of fun, and one that you’re likely to want to re-read immediately. A stunning debut and very firmly recommended.