Title: The Vanishing Throne
Author: Elizabeth May
Series: The Falconer, #2
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Release Date: June 21st 2016
*I received a copy of this book through NetGalley, which does not influence my review*
It’s been nearly two years since I read Elizabeth May’s The Falconer and with the way it ended, its sequel The Vanishing Throne is long overdue. Aileana grew up sheltered from the evil of the world until the day she witnessed her mother being murdered at the hands of a monster. Discovering that fae existed and that they live to hunt humans was a tremendous revelation to begin with, but Aileana also discovered that she was a Falconer, a human with the ability to fight and kill fae. Along with her fae mentor Kiaran, Aileana has been battling these monsters, confident that she could put a stop to the chaos they’ve unleashed upon her world. With the barrier between worlds threatening to break, Aileana was tasked with sealing it for good, but then the unspeakable happened, she failed. The wall between the human and fae worlds collapsed, leaving her trapped in the fae realm and separated from everyone she loves.
Rare is the novel that allows a protagonist to fail to save the world, but May did just that at the end of The Falconer. At the beginning of this second book, Aileana is imprisoned in the fae world, devastated by her own failure and haunted by the knowledge that all those she loves may be dead. Lonnrach, a malevolent fae, wants something from Aileana and will do anything to get it. At his hands, the protagonist undergoes horrific torture, stripping her of strength and any hope for escape. Unlike many books I’ve read where the protagonist quickly overcomes being held against their will, Aileana struggles throughout the entire book with the aftereffects of being trapped and tormented. She has a specific coping mechanism she uses to help her through the trauma that she falls back on even after escape. These terrible experiences become a significant part of who Aileana is, gives her a greater understanding of another character, and drives her forward in her fight against the fae. In the first book, much of Aileana’s motivation to destroy the fae was bred from hate, but in this sequel, Aileana gains a better understanding of herself, able to control her emotions rather than letting them control her, helping her to realize her full potential as a Falconer.
One of my favorite parts about this novel is the world-building. While we really only got a glimpse into the fae world in the first novel, this second book does an amazing job of broadening our perspective. Characters like Kiaran become more well-rounded because of the backstory provided and new characters like his sister Aithinne are easier to understand and sympathize with. I really enjoyed their relationship, despite their complicated past, their connection brings out a more personable side to them. This is essential, especially when dealing with characters like fae, who are often depicted as otherworldly and untouchable.
In The Vanishing Throne, May gives her readers a greater understanding of Aileana’s role as the Falconer and just what’s at stake for everyone in the final book. Her battle scenes are as epic as ever and her characters once again shine.