My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A steampunk novel where Victorian Scotland is waging an unknown battle against evil fairies? Yes, please!
In the beginning of the book, we find ourselves at a ball where our main heroine, Aileana Kameron – Kam, is the subject of harsh gossip and scrutiny. She was found over the corpse of her murdered mother, the only witness to this unsolved crime. Obviously, scandal follows.
The scandal is the least of her worries though, and if she wasn’t busy tracking and killing evil fairies, she could probably overcome it. But, priorities.
Not all fairies are bad though. She has a pixie living with her, Derrick. His character alone makes this an enjoyable read. Who wouldn’t love a tiny grumpy fairy living in your closet? Especially one who steals shiny objects, mends your clothes and gets drunk off of honey! He sounds suspiciously like a good friend of mine, come to think of it.
And then there’s Kiaran, the Daoine Sith or fairy, who trains her to kill her own kind. More on him later.
Add in a father who barely seems to tolerate her presence, her best friend Catherine who doesn’t know the details of Kam’s strange behavior but remains loyal regardless, and Catherine’s brother Gavin as her newly betrothed, and we have a good story. Kam endures more scandal threatening her ability to function in normal society, at the same time that a seal holding back all of the really bad fairies verges on collapse. Now we have a great one.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. It was fast paced, had an intriguing mystery that kept me turning the pages, and a mother of all cliff hangers to top it off! You will not be able to help but dive right into the next book.
**SPOILERS – If you have not read the book, please DO NOT PROCEED**
While this was a very fun read, there were some things that bothered me. I’m hoping that some of these things are cleared up in the next novel(s).
The first is the love triangle. Or, what I think was supposed to be a love triangle. Her best friends brother, Gavin is referred to in the beginning. Kam had a serious crush on him, going so far as to admit that before her mothers murder, marrying him was her greatest desire.
Now, I get it. Her mom was killed, she witnessed it, and became a fairy killing machine to try and quench the rage that bloomed. As I said above, priorities. Marriage becomes a bit dull after living that sort of life. Especially when she is struggling to maintain her reputation as a giddy socialite. Being a good wife is probably not in the cards…
But then he comes back, and has the sight, meaning he can see fairies without using a sign-dubh (a magic thistle).
I actually thought we were headed towards a decent love triangle with the introduction of Gavin. Especially when Kam is forced into a battle without the thistle and Gavin becomes her eyes. The scene where he is pressed against her, aiming for her, is probably one of the hottest battle scenes I’ve ever read. There is already something between Kam and Kiaran, but this had the possibility of more. Especially when scandal forces them to become engaged.
But, for reasons I don’t quite understand, Gavin goes from seemingly flirtatious and determined to be by her side, to stiff and awkward.
I understand that Kam has some massive sexual tension towards Kiaran, but even that relationship is weird. Kiaran seems to barely tolerate her. Training her to kill his own kind, probably isn’t a picnic for him. Especially when we really don’t know his motivations. While he never lets her die, he certainly doesn’t mind if she comes close to death while fighting. Fine, he’s making her a tough warrior. Preparing her.
But I do get tired of the women characters who tolerate a man’s blatant abuse only to have him soften towards the end. It takes imminent death to kiss her? Or show that he cares if she lives? Maybe it’s supposed to be tragic. I would have enjoyed it more if Gavin put up more of a fight for her. If her feelings weren’t as clear for Kiaran because of his behavior. It would have made for better tension for me. Falling head over heels for Kiaran feels predictable, but I suppose we’ll see.
The other thing I wish was more developed was the world building. It’s Victorian Scotland, in a steam punk era. Outside of Kam and some description of her being an inventor and tinkerer, the gadgets didn’t really seem important or relevant to the era or anyone else. Outside of tea contraptions and stitchers, no one else seemed to rely on these things. Honestly, I kept thinking it was simply the Industrial Revolution on steroids. It didn’t feel as fantastical as other steampunk I’ve read. If it wasn’t for Kam inventing or building these machines, for example, would they still exist in this world? I got the sense that they were there, but not a major piece of most households.
This is the first in a trilogy, so there is potential for further development in the next two books. I hope to see more tension with Gavin. Kiaran may be a beautiful fairy, but Gavin shows more heart. Gavin is willing to expose his identity as a seer, even knowing it could cost him his life to help her, to commit to her and stay by her side. It isn’t a sense of duty that would compel him, or I hope it isn’t just that.
I hope to see more with her father. Is it that she reminds him of her mother, or that he suspects her of killing her, or is he just a really cold dude?
Obviously, the mystery of the failed seal and the fate of humanity lies in the balance. I’m sure more plot twists and character development are on the way. I look forward to the next book.