Nope. Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope.
This book started off very strongly and ended up with me ragequitting. Or, I would have ragequit if the book didn’t end in the middle of the climax.
Aileana Kameron is the gorgeous (but she doesn’t know it) daughter of Scottish nobility who is impatient with all things girly and fine and prefers to trash her reputation by skipping out on important social events to slay fairies in the hopes that one day she will face the horror that murdered her mother a year ago.
Aileana was not as likeable as I wanted her to be. She constantly kept information from people who really need it to stay safe. She trashed her reputation, which in 19thC Scotland was really all a girl, even a rich girl, had. She kept referring to herself as a murderer when she’d never killed another person. She’s beautiful and clever and perfect but broken. I liked how headstrong she was and I often despaired at how constricted she was in her life. Her father only wants to marry her off and couldn’t even look at her without pain because she looks like her deceased mother. I wanted to like her more but her habit of biting her tongue to stop from expressing any kind of emotion annoyed me and I really wish she had more of a survival instinct, or at least was more open to sharing important information with the other characters.
I loved the Scottish setting. I loved the weaving of Scottish language and culture through the narrative. I loved the descriptions of Edinburgh, even though it was Steampunk-infused so not entirely historically accurate. I loved the technology. I loved how Aileana beared her scars rather than having the author helicopter her out and keeping her perfect. The writing was really beautiful.
I wasn’t into the romance. It’s not that I particularly didn’t like the fairy she ended up kissing – I won’t say ‘fall in love’ because I never felt it – it’s that I felt their relationship was so plutonic and she made a big deal out of what it was like to be faestruck, so every time she thought about kissing him I just assumed the feelings weren’t legitimate. She never waxed poetic about his personality but was completely obsessed with what he looked like. There were reasons to get swoony over his personality, too – he was fierce, protective, and loyal, even if he was an asshole that enjoyed keeping relevant information to himself for no reason other than the plot demanded it. Thank god there wasn’t a love triangle, although there sure were hints at one.
I hated the twist that made it impossible for her to achieve her goal. I hated how most of the book was sitting around waiting for the particular day the climax was scheduled for. I liked the fighting the first few times but I quickly grew bored when it didn’t move the plot forward. I was bored with the ‘romance’ because I didn’t think it was romantic at all, as I wrote above. The quiet times spent together were completely wasted and in comparison to the action scenes they were also boring. I found myself wondering if I should DNF it, but I was so enchanted by the setting and genre I wanted to keep going.
I can’t even grasp the concept of a Falconer, one literally born to hunt fairies, being unable to see their prey but the males-born Seers can see but are untrained to hunt. I think maybe there was a spell put on the Falconers that made it so they couldn’t see the fairies (to keep them safe) but I might just be making that up to make the book better. I don’t remember – I may have been skimming the book by that point.
I absolutely despised the ending. I think it was meant to be a cliffhanger but it cut off in the middle of a paragraph. I’m assuming this was a mistake and my copy was simply missing the last page, so I’ll fill in the blanks.(show spoiler)
I simply don’t enjoy it when the main character doesn’t solve their own problems by the end of the book, and the fact that Aileana didn’t achieve her goal frustrates me so much I’m not willing to read the next book. The entire freaking book (once the Big Bad plot was revealed) built up to this massive climax and then we don’t even know if she was successful or not. It’s completely open ended and that’s why I’m ending it this way. If you can’t even write the climax I’m forced to imagine it in my head.
Thanks to Chronicle Books and Edelweiss for providing this review copy for an honest review.