Thursday, June 23, 2016

A Stunning and Gripping Sequel: The Vanishing Throne

Title: The Vanishing Throne (The Falconer, #2)
Author: Elizabeth May
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Release Date: June 21st, 2016!
Get It: Amazon
*eARC kindly provided by Chronicle Books via NetGalley*

From Goodreads...
The second book in the Falconer trilogy is packed with surprises and suspense. Aileana Cameron, the Falconer, disappeared through the portal that she was trying to close forever. Now she wakes up in the fae world, trapped and tortured by the evil Lonnrach. With the help of an unexpected ally, Aileana re-enters the human world, only to find everything irrevocably changed. Edinburgh has been destroyed, and the few human survivors are living in an uneasy truce with the fae, while both worlds are in danger of disappearing altogether. Aileana holds the key to saving both worlds, but in order to do so she must awaken her latent Falconer powers. And the price of doing that might be her life. Rich with imaginative detail, action, fae lore, and romance, The Vanishing Throne is a thrilling sequel to The Falconer.

 My Review!
*Spoilers for the first book!

I am dead. And this book killed me.

I don’t know how it was possible for this to surpass my expectations and love for the first, but I do believe it did. I thought The Falconer was so good, but this one was HOLY SHIT SO AWESOMEPAINFUL OMG. Upon finishing this, not only is my heart is shatters, but this series has become a FAVORITE of mine, and these characters are just freaking amazing. And I have no idea how I’m gonna be able to wait for the final book. It better not be a freaking 2 year wait like the one in-between the first two books! I would especially be upset after this other goddamn cruel ending! What a fucking cliffhanger, I can’t even deal right now. WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN TO MY BABIES.

I have so much love for Aileana. I love that she’s not only a badass heroine, but also a person who feels and thinks and chooses her own destiny. Throughout everything she goes through, she just doesn’t give up. Not once. Even when she so deserves to, when she deserves a break, a chance to chill. When she’s captured, Aileana is forced to withstand torture of a mental kind, almost worst than if it had been physical. Lonrach stole her memories, her will, her fight. He stole a piece of her that she won’t ever get back. But damn if she’s going to let him win. Damn if she’s going to let those months trapped in that room of mirrors defeat her. In The Vanishing Throne, Aileana is not only working through that pain and anger, but also the guilt that she wasn’t able to save her world. Edinburgh is gone. Her father, most likely dead. Her friends, forced to hide and lean on the cousins of the creatures that destroyed their lives. The price of her failure haunts her. She’s never backed down from her duty, but I believe she takes on too much. Her martyrdom was a *wee* bit annoying just because I KNOW she doesn’t deserve the way she beats herself up for things she can’t control. It’s not her fault. It’s not, and Aileana is TRYING to get that. She’s trying to forgive herself, as well as trying to survive in this new world. And she’s trying to understand her relationship with Kiaran. It frustrates her, but also gives her strength. Strength that she clearly doesn’t need, but one that she welcomes. And one, that I think, is super good for her.

Kiaran has always been a bastard. Partly because of his past, but also because he’s lived too long to let himself feel, and give humans patience. But in the sequel, he’s growing as well. His love for Aileana is something that he hasn’t felt in so long that it’s basically foreign. And he stumbles. He pushes and needles and sometimes he doesn’t understand human emotions even though, since he’s lived among them for thousands of years, you’d think he would by now. But he’s trying, too. He’s trying to be, like, worthy of Aileana. Like her, he also beats himself up for things he shouldn’t have to. Er, well, in some respects. He did baaaaad things when he was leading the Wild Hunt, but I also think the Cailleach had been the biggest reason for that. She pushed him and his sister into war, as was the custom of their culture, and he was born into a world that valued war and death and revenge above all else. He’s clearly not a great guy if his past is any indication, but he tries to do right by Aileana. And he’s always understood her, even when she didn’t feel like she knew herself at all. Throughout the book, their relationship is pushed to the test. In a new era such as this, the two of them together is hard for people to understand. Not only that, but Aileana is still trying to reconcile Kiaran with his Kadamach self. She’s seen into his past and his life, and she has to decide whether or not he’s worth the shot. She has to decide whether to forgive (but NEVER forget) what he’s done and move on from all of that. He may not have been a good person in the past, or not always even now, but he’s her EQUAL. He matches her in all ways, and he’s a steadfast anchor when her world falls apart.

I, um, clearly have a lot of feelings on their romance. I feel like I need to defend it sometimes, especially considering everything that happens in these books, but I also think it’s another way that Aileana grows and strengthens as a character, and I’m ALL for that. What also helps her is her relationships with her best friends, Catherine and Gavin (who incidentally pissed me off big time with what he let happen to Aileana, but who she also finds it in herself to forgive), and that of the faeries Derrick and Aithinne. You know my thoughts already on Catherine, Gavin, and Derrick. I love that they’re big supports for Aileana, but that they’re also 3-dimensional characters. They’re not pushed to the background. I loved learning more about Derrick’s past, as well as seeing where Gavin and Catherine are at after 3 years. 3 years have passed since the events of The Falconer (which was super hard to actually reconcile, ngl, I didn’t expect such a big time gap), which is also something that completely trips Aileana up. For her, two months in the faerie world, but not for Edinburgh and her friends. And the person who got her out of that mirror prison is Aithinne, Kiaran’s sister. AITHINNE IS ONE OF THE MOST PRECIOUS CHARACTERS OF EVER. Her quiet strength, her willpower, her grace in fights and with other people. She’s a compassionate person, which is kind of not-normal for faeries. And she’s also loyal, loving, and forgiving (even when she doesn’t have to be). She’s got a past too, one that isn’t nearly as bad as her brother’s but still, not good. But people change as time moves on. They’re both different from who they were back then, and I loved seeing that. Also, their sibling banter was one of my favorite parts of this book.

The Vanishing Throne
upped the high stakes from the first book, and somehow was more intense, grueling, and character-driven. I loved everything about it. From the kickass Falconer to her world-weary trainer. From the humans who bring light back into a darkened Scotland to the faeries who protect them at a cost. From the confidants who lend the main character much-needed support now that both of her parents are gone to the newest arrival who simply tells Aileana that it’s okay to be angry and hurt for what had been done to her in the faery world. From the passionate and believable romance to the sibling rivalry turned new beginning for two people who had been fighting each other for so long. Basically, the characters are what makes these stories so freaking fantastic. The world itself is engaging and magical, but the characters are what breathe life into it.


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