The closing chapter of The Falconer trilogy, The Fallen Kingdom sees Aileana Kameron, a Victorian debutante turned fae hunter turned potential cursebreaker, face her biggest challenge yet. To avoid an impossible choice and save two worlds from total annihilation, she must recover a tome of power from the ancient and vengeful Morrigan, before the powers of a dead goddess with which she has been imbued finish slowly killing her.
With the series’ previous instalments including the likes of destructive steampunk battles on the streets of Edinburgh and the aftermath of world-spanning devastation, a plot consisting of a relatively straightforward MacGuffin hunt might seem anti-climactic. However, the pace and intensity of May’s writing makes the story anything but run of the mill. Right from the opening page that sees Aileana clawing her way out of her own grave, devoid of memories but possessed of devastating abilities, a sense of urgency is ever present as the fast moving events and short chapters compel you to blitz your way through the book without pause.
That Alileana is effectively tasked with saving the world but refuses to consider doing so at the cost of her friends or her love make her someone to truly root for, as it’s this refusal to surrender her humanity that mark her as a true heroine, even as she tries to prevent herself succumbing to the rage and hate that threatens to consume her. That said, it’s not all dark and gruesome, and some much-needed levity is provided by reader favourites like honey-addicted pixie Derrick and batty fae queen Aithinne, and even the sadistic villain turned extremely reluctant ally Sorcha is entertaining in her own bitter and vicious way.
Even with all their dramatic and brutal action, the Falconer books have been far more focused on their characters, principally the tragic romance between Aileana and her fae lover Kiaran. This time around the damaged warrior is just as brooding and swoon-worthy as he has been previously, only he now comes with added darkness infusing his emotionally tortured ensemble. The developing relationship between the pair has always been the series’ backbone, and throughout the book the true extent of what they mean to each other comes through, while the personal sacrifices they are asked to make form some of its most emotionally intense scenes.
A worthy conclusion to a spectacular series, The Fallen Kingdom provides everything that fans of the trilogy have come to expect and then some, leaving the tale on a very final but very satisfying high.
THE FALLEN KINGDOM / AUTHOR: ELIZABETH MAY / PUBLISHER: GOLLANCZ / RELEASE DATE: 15TH JUNE