I am so in love with this book.
The Falconer is a fast-paced, action-packed highly addictive Victorian fantasy novel, full of fighting and vengeance and fae and apocalypses and steampunk weapons and the occasional ball. Set in an alternate 1840s Edinburgh, The Falconer follows Aileana, a high society inventor, who has dedicated herself to killing fae after one of them murdered her mother. In between her attempts to salvage her tattered reputation, she develops new weapons and patrols the streets of Edinburgh with Kieran, a mysterious ancient fae who hunts his own kind. Her only goal in life now is to find the fae who murdered her mother and get her revenge, but things are complicated slightly when the wards trapping the most dangerous fae under the city begin to break.
The Falconer somehow manages to be both high-stakes action/drama AND quirky and funny and fun. A comparison to Buffy isn't quite fitting, as The Falconer is a lot darker in tone, but they do have similarities. They're both apocalyptic with a sense of humor, and The Falconer follows Buffy's lead in exploring the impact that secret demon fighting has on your life, your relationships with family and friends, and your social standing (perhaps the 19th century version of getting expelled). Add in the forbidden supernatural romance, and you've got a book that will definitely appeal to fans of the show.
And Aileana is a fantastic female protagonist. She's incredibly intelligent and a badass fighter, but she's far from the kickass stereotype some people might expect. She was emotionally broken by her mother's death, and the hate that drives her is far from a strength. In fact, her "strength" as a character isn't that she can fight fae, but all of the other traits that struggle through her darkness. Her loyalty as a friend. Her genius for inventing. Her determination to succeed, whatever the odds. Her sense of humor, her resourcefulness, her emotional insight. Mix all of that with the desperate desire to find and kill her mother's murderer, whatever the cost, and you've got yourself a fascinating protagonist.
Meanwhile, the plot is full of brilliant twists, and the secondary characters are all so vivid and layered and compelling that you'll find it a difficult book to put down. The one downside to the book is that it ends with one of the biggest cliffhangers I've ever seen. It not only finishes mid-scene, it practically finishes mid-sentence. And although that's dramatic and gasp-worthy and will have you scrambling to find out when the next book comes out, it might also be beyond irritating when you find out that Book 2 isn't out until next year.
But otherwise, The Falconer is a really fun, twisty, half-Gothic, half-steampunk adventure, with great characters and lots to keep you turning the pages until the end. Highly recommended!