As I neared the last page of Elizabeth May’s The Falconer, I realized that I wasn’t about to experience any sort of closure. So while the lack of resolution didn’t come as a complete surprise, it certainly evoked a response: I wailed and threw the book across the room.
I don’t react well to cliffhangers.
In this case, though, it’s odd that my reaction was so violent. Because in a whole lot of ways, The Falconer is a pretty run-of-the-mill paranormal:
Beautiful society girl. Check!
Has a secret life. Check!
Killing fill-in-the-blank monster. (In this case, faeries.) Check!
Because her mother was murdered by one. Check!
But also because she’s the Chosen One. Check!
She fights alongside an emotionally aloof faery dude who is graced with Otherworldly Beauty, a Deep, Long-Held Sadness and a Bad Attitude, and she can’t decide if she wants to punch him or kiss him. Check! Check! Check! Check! Check!
But there’s also a human guy in the mix, so she’s dealing with a love triangle of sorts. Check!
The world’s about to end and she has to save it. CHECK!
So, yeah. Not exactly original. And yet....
And yet, I loved that although Aileana is blessed with the usual Slayer Skills (extra-fast healing, enhanced strength and speed), she has to do a lot of work to keep her many battle scars hidden under her ball gowns. Compounding that problem is her newly muscular physique, which isn’t exactly The Coveted Look in aristocratic circles in 1844 Scotland.
And yet, I loved that Aileana isn’t all that tormented about the difficulties of living two lives. Sure, it’s difficult. And sure, it’s annoying. And sure, she may well have to marry someone that she doesn’t love, she’d like to make her own decisions about her own future, and she’d like for her father to treat her as a human being instead of as baggage left over from his beloved wife’s violent death. But she revels in fighting the fae, full stop. She can be covered in blood, half of it her own, and rather than bemoaning her fate, she’ll grin in delight. In fighting, she has power, and in fighting, she wrests control from beings that are bigger and stronger than she is…which is exactly what seems so impossible when she’s wearing her public face.
And yet, I loved how May incorporated Scottish mythology into a steampunk setting, taking two somewhat familiar ideas and making them both feel fresher by mashing them together. Extra points for making it clear that not all faeries are soul-devouring monsters: As we all already knew from Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden stories and Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan books, PIXIES ARE AWESOME. But extra EXTRA points for making the scary faeries legitimately scary. (And also grody.)
And yet, even though the Aileana/Kiaran relationship is basically a retread of Buffy and Angel—complete with an ugly, murderous past and some sort of life-changing tragedy on his part, AS WELL AS the suggestion that he might Go Bad in the second installment—and even though his behavior toward her would Absolutely Not Fly in real life….Even though Gavin is basically a slightly magical Riley Finn, right down to his immediate dislike of Kiaran and his inferiority complex, and even though Aileana doesn’t want to marry him and he doesn’t want to marry her…I didn’t hate either pairing. Of course, I’d be fine with Aileana walking off into the sunset alone, too, but let’s face it: love triangles in paranormal YA rarely end like that.
In brief, despite some eye-rolling here and there: OH MY GOD, WHY IS 2015 SO FAR AWAY, DAMMIT??
Also, WHY CAN’T I HAVE AN ORNITHOPTER WITH A SWIVEL-MOUNTED CROSSBOW ON IT??
If she isn't writing Bookshelves of Doom or running the show at her local library, Leila Roy might be making stuff for her Etsy shop while rewatching Veronica Mars, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Babylon 5, Black Books or Twin Peaks. Well, that or she’s hanging out on Twitter. Or both.