Tag: Gollancz

Guest Review: The Falconer by Elizabeth May

Posted January 5, 2014 by Whitley B in Reviews | 0 Comments

The FalconerWhitley’s review of The Falconer (The Falconer #1) by Elizabeth May.

Heiress. Debutant. Murderer. A new generation of heroines has arrived.

Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, was destined for a life carefully planned around Edinburgh’s social events – right up until when a faery killed her mother.

Now it’s the 1844 winter season and Aileana slaughters faeries in secret, in between the endless round of parties, tea and balls. Armed with modified percussion pistols and explosives, she sheds her aristocratic facade every night to go hunting. She’s determined to track down the faery who murdered her mother, and to destroy any who prey on humans in the city’s many dark alleyways.

But the balance between high society and her private war is a delicate one, and as the fae infiltrate the ballroom and Aileana’s father returns home, she has decisions to make. How much is she willing to lose – and just how far will Aileana go for revenge?

This book had some decent action and some great writing and descriptions of fairies and magic, but it fell flat on the emotional front for me.  Not because it was lacking in emotion, mind you, but more because it tried way too hard in that regard.

Falconer delivered in almost every aspect that drew me to it in the first place: evil fairies, bloody slaughter, explosions, mayhem, 19th century Scotland setting, tea parties getting attacked, and all of that part of it was excellent.  I did not expect it to be a steampunk setting, which isn’t really my thing, but the steampunk aspects were minor enough that there’s a reason it wasn’t mentioned in the summary.  I greatly enjoyed the variety of the fairies and their eviltude and all the descriptions of fighting them.

Everything else, however, was either iffy or downright bad.  I was unhappy with the plot; despite the amount of action we got, the actual plot moved at a glacial pace.  We learned about a quarter of the way in that some fairy prison is about to fail and release all the big bads into the world, and the rest of the book was just one fight after another.  None of those fights served any purpose but distraction.  At the end of each I thought “and are we closer to solving the prison problem now?  No?  You’re going to cuddle romantically over your wounds instead of addressing the world-ending problem?  Sigh, if you must.”  They didn’t even begin to address the prison problem until almost 80% of the way through, at which point it became clear why the author straight-up avoided it.  The problem took nothing but an infodump to “solve,” because one character knew things all along.

I was also highly irritated with Aileana’s constant “I am nothing” soliloquies.  This girl could not shut up for talking about how broken and empty un-person-y she was.  I really don’t care if there’s an reason for it; I’m still sick of seeing women reduced right into un-person-hood in novels.  You can be grief-stricken and still a person.  I also didn’t get a good sense of Aileana’s actual pain, because for all she went on about how her life was ruined and such, we never really got to see her trying.  So you can’t enjoy balls anymore?  Well, we’re never shown you particularly trying to or wanting to try to; in fact she only goes to two of them and she spends the whole time complaining.  How am I supposed to feel bad for her missing out on something she doesn’t even appear to want?  The book spent thousands of words telling me how she felt and zero words showing me any actual consequences, because the book was so narrowly focused on angst and bloody battles and pretty boys.

And the ending straight-up wasn’t there.  The book simply stopped mid-paragraph.  That doesn’t count as a cliff-hanger; it’s more like the author got up to get a cup of coffee and never came back.

Also, there were no falcons in this book.  At all.  Minor point, but still, you’d think she could have at least thrown in one.  Maybe it was in the ending that got left out.

Rating: 3 out of 5

This book is available from Gollancz.  You can purchase it here in e-format.

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Guest Review: Hexbound by Chloe Neill

Posted May 4, 2011 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 1 Comment

Genres: Urban Fantasy

Mary’s review of HEXBOUND (Dark Elite #2) by Chloe Neill.

Lily Parker is new to St. Sophia’s School for Girls, but she’s already learned that magic can be your best friend…or your worst enemy.

They say absolute power corrupts absolutely. Turns out, even a little magic can turn you to the dark side. That’s why Lily has to learn how to control her newly discovered paranormal abilities, on top of avoiding the snobs who think they run her school, nursing a crush on a cute sophomore with a big, werewolf-y secret, and fighting the good fight with her best friend Scout as they take on Chicago’s nastiest nightlife—including the tainted magic users known as Reapers.

Then Lily’s invited to a private meeting with Sebastian. He’s hot, powerful, and offering to help her harness the magic flowing in her veins in a way no one else can. He’s also a Reaper. Lily can’t hide her suspicions. But she’ll soon find out that the line between good and evil isn’t always clear…

Let me just start off saying that HEXBOUND is a young adult paranormal and contains nothing steamier than teenaged lust (which can be pretty steamy at times but not in this story). But it does contain mystery, use of a wide array of powers, and some bad baddies.

Lily and her BFF (best friend forever), Scout, are part of the Dark Elite, kids who fight the evil crawling around Chicagoland. During the day, they’re your typical boarding school teens, lusting after cute boys, snarking about the local queen bee/mean girls, and going to classes. I really like these two characters. They have their own quirks and flaws but are still trying to do the right thing, despite the fact that, if they don’t give up their powers when they get older, they’ll turn evil and become Reapers, ex-Elite who suck the magic out of (and ultimately kill) other Dark Elites. Yes, it’s a tangled web. One that gets even more tangled when you factor in Sebastian.

Sebastian is a Reaper but it seems like he’s trying to help out Lily. In the first book, he did help her learn a bit about her powers and, in this story, he’s always skulking around, appearing to feed Lily little tidbits of information. Some of this information is useful and some is just confusing. Plus, Lily’s got feelings for Sebastian and she’s not sure what to do about it. He’s bad, right? That’s what I want to know. It’s like Neill is teasing me with the lack of information about Sebastian, enjoying my frustration. He’s an intriguing character and, like Lily, I want to know what his deal is.

I like how Neill introduces aspects from her adult vampire novels (Chicagoland Vampires—and awesome series if you haven’t read it!). There are some new baddies in town, slimy, vamp-like, slug creatures (yes, they’re as pretty as they sound) and the kids have to enlist the help of another group of Dark Elite as well as get some info from the vamps. The answer to the mystery is rather obvious, with the clues dropping like breadcrumbs in front of the kids.

There’s great potential in this series, potential that I don’t think it’s quite reached yet. Because this series is done episode-style, much like Rachel Caine’s Morganville Vampire series, there’s a major mystery surrounding Lily’s parents, the company they work for, and Lily’s boarding school itself, including the headmistress. So, the set-up is there but it’s a bit too unclear at the moment. However, I have the feeling, as we progress, the pieces will start to fall into place.

All in all, a fun, fast read with great characters and a mysteriously dark city for them to play, love and fight in.

Rating: 3.5/5.0

The Series:

Firespell (Dark Elite, Book 1)Hexbound (Dark Elite, Book 2)

This book is available from Signet. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

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