A steampunk adventure with murderous fairies, Elizabeth May’s historical Scottish novel adds the fantastical, the automated and the violent to the streets of Edinburgh in 1844.
Alieana saw her mother die in a faery attack, and since then has committed herself to killing every faery she can find, as preparation for the return of her mother’s murderer. A committed inventor, she works on her own increasingly more creative methods of killing the fae. Assisted by small, harmless pixie Derrick, Alieana tracks the faery’s movements around Scotland. Battling against creatures she can only see when wearing a rare breed of thistle, her trainer is the attractive yet mysterious and enigmatic faery Kiaran. At the same time Alieana must fight the losing battle of attempting to remain respectable to the rest of the aristocracy. When one of her victims calls her a ‘falconer,’ and stronger faeries start escaping from beneath the city, she starts to realise that there may be a bigger crisis brewing, one which only she can stop.
Whilst series rely on having an ending that makes the reader invested enough to wait a year for the sequel, this novel ends on a cliffhanger that actually feels incomplete. Sadly it feels like the story needed another hundred pages or so to come to a satisfactory ending. The steampunk elements, such as the flying ornithopters or wound healing stitchers, are fascinating and exciting, and it is a shame that this facet of the story was not more developed; at times they felt more like plot devices rather than part of the world being presented. However, it was refreshing to read a YA fantasy set in Scotland, and May used the landscape evocatively, creating a perfect setting for her wild Fae. A fun book with likeable characters.