Teens' Book of the Month: The Falconer

Author: Elizabeth May | Age category: 12-16

Synopsis: Edinburgh, 1844. Beautiful Aileana Kameron only looks the part of an aristocratic young lady. In fact, she’s spent the year since her mother died developing her ability to sense the presence of Sithichean, a faery race bent on slaughtering humans. She has a secret mission: to destroy the faery who murdered her mother. But when she learns she’s a Falconer, the last in a line of female warriors and the sole hope of preventing a powerful faery population from massacring all of humanity, her quest for revenge gets a whole lot more complicated.

Review: An adventure story with well-rounded characters; Aileana is a fantastic protagonist, strong, defiant with a sharp tongue and unshakeable determination. The story is peppered with many Edinburgh locations, and if you know the place, you’ll enjoy envisioning the scenes. This book is witty, fast-paced and an addictive read. Thank goodness there’s a sequel imminent!


Competition

We have 5 copies of The Falconer to be won! To be in with a chance of winning one, just answer this question:

Where was Elizabeth May born?

Send your answer to Miriam Morris at miriam.morris@scottishbooktrust.com  Competition closes on Thursday 31 July. Entrants outside the UK must cover postage.

Q&A with Elizabeth May 

Did you enjoy the research that you did for this book?

Yes, absolutely! Scotland has such interesting folklore and a rich history, so I couldn’t help but mix the two. I’ve always been fascinated by Scottish faery mythology, stories of the Second Sight, and tales of different types of fae. The history of the country is so intensely connected to paranormal stories. I was struck, in particular, by Robert Kirk’s treatise The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns, and Fairies, which was written in the late 1600s. Kirk’s work detailed what he described as a subterranean, invisible (except to those with the Sight) society of fae and their interactions with humans. His essay would be unseen by the public until Sir Walter Scott’s decision to publish it in the 1800s. The Secret Commonwealth greatly inspired The Falconer. I chose to set the book shortly after Scott’s time, during a post-Enlightenment age that emphasized science, technology, and philosophy. I exaggerated the technologies that would have been available to really get across that the Victorian era was a time of exceptional progress – so Aileana’s circle of peers would have doubted and ridiculed fae belief.  It was the perfect time period to create a tension between folklore and scientific advancement.

 Why did you start writing this book?

I knew I wanted to write a book that combined Scottish folklore and history. But I suppose the reason I wrote this book is because of Aileana’s character. I love writing heroines who are emotionally intense and conflicted, who feel strongly and profoundly. Aileana fascinated me because of her anger, which has to be so tightly controlled during a time when women were expected to have a pleasant, gentle demeanour in public.

I felt how stifling it was to write her as she wore dresses and smiled and pretended to be happy. The truth is she’s an 18-year-old girl who is still grieving after the loss of a parent. Aileana’s story in the first book is all about pretence, where this secret faery-hunting life calls to her because she can actually feel her anger instead of bottling it up inside. Honestly, I had never written a character with such overpowering emotions. Her story was too fascinating to ignore.

What else have you written?

Nothing that’s been published yet. But I just wrote the sequel to The Falconer, which I should be able to share more details on soon. There is a third book in the series after that, and I have a few secret projects I’m currently working on. Hopefully they’ll find a lovely publishing home. Fingers crossed for those! 

Find lots more book recommendations, blogs and videos in our Parents section