The Friday 56: The Fallen Kingdom

The Friday 56The Friday 56 is a weekly blog meme hosted by Freda’s Voice. Join us every Friday and share an excerpt from a book you’ve been reading.

Rules:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader.
*Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post here in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url. It’s that simple.

**Be sure to leave a link to your Friday 56 post in the comments!**

Aithinne is standing so close that my first instinct is to step back and preserve some semblance of personal space. That is, until she says, “I’ll need to go into your mind for this. Will you let me?”

After what feels like forever, I finally got to Elizabeth May’s The Fallen Kingdom, her final book in The Falconer Trilogy. This is a series that I think is really underrated and I love that the author has never been afraid to let her characters lose. Makes for an unpredictable series. You can read my mini-review of this one hereCover is linked to Goodreads.

From the Goodreads Synopsis:

      “She’s on borrowed time…and she has only one chance to set things right.
      Find life.
      Deep in a forest, Aileana Kameron claws her way out of the earth. Back from the dead with no memory of who she is or what has happened to her, the Falconer now possesses even greater otherworldly powers and a ruthless instinct to kill—and the one piece of knowledge that can change everything.
      Find Kiaran.
      Two fae monarchs, Aithinne and Kadamach, stand on the brink of war, and according to an ancient curse, one must die at the hand of the other or all the worlds will perish. Once, Kadamach was known as Kiaran, and he was mentor, protector, and lover to Aileana. Now, under the grip of the curse, his better nature seems lost forever.
      Find the book.
      Aileana’s only hope lies in the legendary Book of Remembrance, a book of spells so powerful that it can break the fae curse and even turn back time. But the book has been lost for centuries, and many are looking for it, including its creator, the Morrigan—a faery of terrifying malevolence and cruelty.
      Sacrifice everything.
      To obtain the book and defeat the Morrigan, Aileana must form an unthinkable alliance, one that challenges every vow she has made to herself—even as the powers that brought her to life are slowly but surely killing her.”

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Mini Reviews: The Fallen Kingdom + The Similars (ARC Review)

MiniI have two very different books and two very different ratings for this set of mini-reviews. You might not see another set of mini-reviews for a while. I am going to be trying a new kind of format for books I don’t want to write full reviews for. So stay tuned for that. Covers below are linked to Goodreads.

Title: The Fallen Kingdom
Author: Elizabeth May
Series: The Falconer, #3
Pages: 389
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Release Date: June 13th 2017 

      “She’s on borrowed time…and she has only one chance to set things right.
      Find life.
      Deep in a forest, Aileana Kameron claws her way out of the earth. Back from the dead with no memory of who she is or what has happened to her, the Falconer now possesses even greater otherworldly powers and a ruthless instinct to kill—and the one piece of knowledge that can change everything.
      Find Kiaran.
      Two fae monarchs, Aithinne and Kadamach, stand on the brink of war, and according to an ancient curse, one must die at the hand of the other or all the worlds will perish. Once, Kadamach was known as Kiaran, and he was mentor, protector, and lover to Aileana. Now, under the grip of the curse, his better nature seems lost forever.
      Find the book.
      Aileana’s only hope lies in the legendary Book of Remembrance, a book of spells so powerful that it can break the fae curse and even turn back time. But the book has been lost for centuries, and many are looking for it, including its creator, the Morrigan—a faery of terrifying malevolence and cruelty.
      Sacrifice everything.
      To obtain the book and defeat the Morrigan, Aileana must form an unthinkable alliance, one that challenges every vow she has made to herself—even as the powers that brought her to life are slowly but surely killing her.

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“It wraps me in a cloak of darkness, thick and impenetrable. I am suddenly calm, my pulse a steady cadence. My mind slices right back into the instinct of a hunt. It’s so easy. My power assures me that I am perfect. I am untouchable.”

I have been putting off Elizabeth May’s final book in her Falconer Trilogy for over a year in fear of how the series would finally end. I finally picked up The Fallen Kingdom and absolutely adored the conclusion. This final book in the Falconer Trilogy pulls no punches as the characters we’ve come to know are met with even more impossible odds in their quest to save both the human and fae worlds. One of the things I really admire about May’s writing is she’s not afraid to have her characters lose. This has made the whole series a nail-biting journey. Each book has felt like an accomplishment in and of itself and I cannot choose which of the three would be considered the weakest. I’ve really enjoyed all the side characters from Aileana’s loyal faery friend Derrick, who always adds a dash of humor to even the direst of situations, to Kiaran’s sister Aithinne, who makes it easy to see the humanity in these otherworldly fae creatures who often feel untouchable. I’d be lying if I didn’t mention that my favorite relationship has always been Aileana and Kiaran’s. I’ve loved all their interactions, from the first book when bickering was their favorite way of communicating to the second novel when they were just starting to discover what their feelings for one another meant to this final book when it feels that every interaction may be their last. The Falconer Trilogy is a underrated fantasy series in my opinion and May is a really gifted author we should all be paying attention to. 

Rating: 4/5

★★★★


Title: The Similars
Author: Rebecca Hanover
Series: The Similars,#1
Pages: 352
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: January 1st 2019
**I received a copy of this book through NetGalley which does not influence my review**

      “When six clones join Emmaline’s prestigious boarding school, she must confront the heartbreak of seeing her dead best friend’s face each day in class.
      The Similars are all anyone can talk about at the elite Darkwood Academy. Who are these six clones? What are the odds that all of them would be Darkwood students? Who is the madman who broke the law to create them? Emma couldn’t care less. Her best friend, Oliver, died over the summer and all she can think about is how to get through her junior year without him. Then she comes face-to-heartbreaking-face with Levi—Oliver’s exact DNA replica and one of the Similars.
      Emma wants nothing to do with the Similars, but she keeps getting pulled deeper and deeper into their clique, uncovering dark truths about the clones and her prestigious school along the way. But no one can be trusted…not even the boy she is falling for who has Oliver’s face.”

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Rebecca Hanover’s The Similars has an interesting premise, but lacked that something extra that would take it from being mediocre to something truly unique. Emma Chance is still reeling from the death of her best friend Oliver who died by suicide. Going back as a junior to Darkwood Academy should help Emma feel normal again, but the elite boarding school just brings back memories of Oliver. When the academy enrolls the Similars, a group of clones, Emma’s entire world is turned upside down. Not only do the Similars bring controversy to campus, the U.S. and the rest of the world are wrestling with the ethics of cloning and clone rights, unbeknownst to Emma, one of the Similars is Oliver’s clone. Emma and Levi don’t get along from the get-go, but when Emma discovers there may be something more to Oliver’s death, she enlists his and the other Similars’ help. I wish I could point to more than the premise as being a positive element of this novel, but from the characters to the plot to the writing, I found this one to be incredibly lacking. Emma was not a character I liked or even respected. She was the kind of character who thought not caring made her stand out, making her come across as incredibly privileged. I was not a fan of her relationship with Levi for several reason, one of which being she literally physically attacks him the first time they meet. Secondly, she never fully deals with Oliver’s death, so starting a relationship with his clone left me feeling uncomfortable. There are twists and turns in this one that sometimes felt so disjointed, it felt like I was reading five different versions of the same story. The writing left me wanting more and while I did like exploring this world, I never felt immersed in this world.

Rating: 1/5

The Friday 56: The Falconer

The Friday 56The Friday 56 is a weekly blog meme hosted by Freda’s Voice. Join us every Friday and share an excerpt from a book you’ve been reading.

Rules:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader.
*Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post here in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url. It’s that simple.

**Be sure to leave a link to your Friday 56 post in the comments!**

“The faery pauses beneath me, his body still. His breathing is silent; he is not at all winded from our chase. He starts forward, slow, quiet.

Supporting my weight on my hands, I drop from the walls and launch myself at him.”

This week I should be spotlighting Elizabeth May’s The Vanishing Throne, but I don’t like to quote ARCs, so instead I’m featuring the first book in the same series, The Falconer. Read my review of this one here and my review of the sequel, The Vanishing Throne, here. Cover is linked to Goodreads.

Goodreads Synopsis:

      “Edinburgh, 1844. Eighteen-year-old Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, has everything a girl could dream of: brains, charm, wealth, a title—and drop-dead beauty.
      But Aileana only looks the part of an aristocratic young lady. she’s leading a double life: She has a rare ability to sense thesìthíchean—the faery race obsessed with slaughtering humans—and, with the aid of a mysterious mentor, has spent the year since her mother died learning how to kill them.
      Now Aileana is dedicated to slaying the fae before they take innocent lives. With her knack for inventing ingenious tools and weapons—from flying machines to detonators to lightning pistols—ruthless Aileana has one goal: Destroy the faery who destroyed her mother.
      The last in a line of female warriors born with a gift for hunting and killing the fae, Aileana is the sole hope of preventing a powerful faery population from massacring all of humanity. Suddenly, her quest is a lot more complicated. She still longs to avenge her mother’s murder—but she’ll have to save the world first.”

ARC Review: The Vanishing Throne by Elizabeth May

Vanishing Throne_final front cover.pdf

Title: The Vanishing Throne
Author: Elizabeth May
Series: The Falconer, #2
Pages: 384
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Release Date: June 21st 2016
*I received a copy of this book through NetGalley, which does not influence my review* 

      “Aileana Kameron, the Falconer, disappeared through the portal that she was trying to close forever. Now she wakes up in the fae world, trapped and tortured by the evil Lonnrach. With the help of an unexpected ally, Aileana re-enters the human world, only to find everything irrevocably changed. Edinburgh has been destroyed, and the few human survivors are living in an uneasy truce with the fae, while both worlds are in danger of disappearing altogether. Aileana holds the key to saving both worlds, but in order to do so she must awaken her latent Falconer powers. And the price of doing that might be her life.

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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.

Rating: 4/5

★★★★

The Falconer by Elizabeth May

The Falconer by Elizabeth May

Title: The Falconer
Author: Elizabeth May
Series: The Falconer, #1

The mysterious circumstances surrounding Aileana Kameron’s mother’s death has left her reputation in a state of disrepair. There are whispers that she may be responsible; they call her mad, murderess, monster. But Aileana is far more lethal than the rumors allege. Aided by her Fae mentor, Kiaran MacKay, Aileana has been tasked to hunted down and slay the most deadly of Fae who managed to escape a fate that has entrapped their kind years ago. But now the faeries who’ve been condemned to the lowest recesses of the earth are breaking free and only Aileana, the last Falconer, can stop them.

“I’m filled with a familiar rush of excitement as the faery snarls again. My heart pumps faster. My blood rushes and my cheeks burn.

‘Aye, that’s it,’ I whisper. ‘Take me instead.’

The faery leaps forward.”

Consumed with rage over the murder of her mother, Aileana has leaped wholeheartedly into the battle against faeries, in hopes that one day she will be prepared to avenge her mother’s death. What makes Aileana an interesting character is this all-consuming anger, which she believes will help her fight, but which prevents her from truly mourning her mother’s death. She has swallowed her grief and has been waiting to unleash it on the Fae who murdered her mother and cannot see that this grief is choking her. The social pressures placed on her are just another circumstance she must contest with, but despite it all, Aileana keeps moving forward and I admire this strength.

Aileana’s relationship with her mentor Kiaran is filled with so much tension I imagine if it was represented by a stringed instrument, it would have snapped by now. Here are two characters each with their own hang-ups that cannot seem to meet one another in the middle. What I liked about them the most is their constant need to push and challenge each other, and whether they see it or not, they need one another. It will be interesting to see how their relationship evolves in the next installment and I’m eager to learn more about Kiaran’s mysterious past.

I had a lot of fun reading Elizabeth May’s debut novel. From the playful banter to the steampunk technology (Victorian-era Scotland with a few flying machines thrown in), and a great female protagonist (girl carries a pistol, so she automatically gets my vote), The Falconer has much to offer readers.

Rating: 4/5

★★★★