Following good stories wherever they lead
A story of vengeance and duty set in a steampunk-era Scotland, this adventure follows a girl who’s about to realize what she’s really made for — if she can survive the next week or so.
Rating: 2.75 out of 5 mugs
If you’re in the mood for: Fight scenes with faeries amid high society duties, with a developing romance and wisecracking pixies
Lady Aileana Kameron is at yet another interminable ball, awaiting her next opportunity to kill.
Her reputation in society is already tarnished by her mother’s death — rumors abound regarding the little girl who was found standing covered in blood and mute by the body. Such a savage attack was a shock to the neighborhood, and Aileana’s refusal to speak of it casts her in a dark light. Her own father barely looks at her anymore.
Nonetheless, she must attempt to keep her dance card full and exchange polite chatter with her betters, in order to avoid slipping into disgrace entirely. This is made more than slightly challenging by the constant need to disappear from polite company and commit murder — sometimes several times in a night.
Fortunately, faerie corpses tend to disintegrate quickly.
Aileana doesn’t work alone, either — she has Derrick, a fast-talking pixie companion to patch up her wardrobe. And, of course, she has Kiaran, the faerie who trained her to kill.
And he has trained her very well.
Aileana knows that she is irrevocably broken and unfit for common life. What husband could possibly love a wife who delights in killing? Her need for vengeance is both a strength and a weakness — it drives her, pushes her forward…and utterly isolates her from any hope of a peaceful existence.
Her only desire is to kill the one faerie who murdered her mother, the one whose voice haunts her nightmares. She may get the chance, soon — but she may also discover the cost of this revenge is too much to bear.
Meanwhile, she has to smile and nod, trying not to show even her best friend, Catherine, the monster she’s become. Never mind Catherine’s brother, Gavin, newly returned from Oxford — and disturbingly handsome at that. If only he wouldn’t take such a persistent interest in her now…
A time of reckoning is drawing near, and the Falconer will be called. Will she be ready for the fight of her life?
A stylish, snappy adventure — albeit lightly developed — this faery story has intriguing steampunk elements and action to spare. Aileana is a bit of an engineer herself, which means we get to see plenty of cool inventions, weaponized and otherwise.
The character dynamics fold in well together in this stylized version of historical Scotland. Aileana’s sidekick, Derrick, provides some lighter moments, even as Aileana broods on her mother’s death and her own failures. Kiaran is a decent blend of compelling and purely dangerous, and Gavin complicates matters in an interesting fashion.
While the action scenes are well-done, more elements need to be developed here. Aileana’s agonizing runs the risk of becoming repetitive, and Kiaran drops more hints of being complex than he actually shows.
The atmosphere itself is more than slightly jarring. There are plenty of battles through the neighborhoods of Edinburgh — but the effect is more contemporary than anything. Despite the fact that societal pressures become a driving force of the plot, they’re never fully developed.
This isn’t a story particularly interested in building a distinct world and culture — the focus is firmly on the three central characters and their choices. However, these characters are not the most nuanced creatures, at least as we get to see them. As a result, it all feels a bit shallow.
For all that, it’s still enjoyably written and well-paced. If you’re interested in faeries, fights, and warlike gadgetry, you may want to see what Aileana has to show you.