The Fallen Kingdom by Elizabeth May is the final book in her Falconer Trilogy, a historical YA series set in Victorian Scotland featuring a young girl that is born fated to hunt down and kill the Fae. The Fallen Kingdom picks up right where The Vanishing Throne has left off. What’s left of the world is in chaos as Aileana awakens in a muddle of confusion, little more than a mindless killer of Fae. But soon, as she comes to herself, she and her friends try for one last gambit to save the world as they know it–find the Book of Remembrance and use it to turn back time to before the apocalypse began.
I wasn’t sure what I was expecting when I first picked up this series, but I can tell you I was not expecting it to go where it did. The first book feels familiar to many books I’ve read–a young girl is a chosen one, she’s different from other girls and prefers hunting to wearing complicated gowns and attending balls. There’s a forbidden romantic interest and of course the guy that she should end up with but won’t because that would be boring. Oh, and can’t forget a dead mother to give her motivation! And yet, I really enjoyed the writing and I loved Aileana’s character. Her trauma about her past and her mother’s death felt realistically presented. I also loved how quickly everything went downhill and the ending of the first book and the second book were all very much a revelation to me. Things. Get. Grim.
So, by the time we get to the third book things are pretty much as bad as they could get. The world has been reduced to small pockets of humanity that are quickly being rooted out by evil Fae. Everyone thinks Aileana is dead, because she’s supposed to be. And having awoken it’s quickly established she’s on borrowed time. Her friends are still fighting but now her love, Kiaran, might truly be her enemy. The only solution to the ending the war between the Faery court may be to kill him.
The stakes in this couldn’t really be any higher. They’re in a race against time and the pacing is pretty great in this last book, although it does get bogged down slightly now and then with exposition scenes. Like the previous book, we’re left dealing with the character’s trauma and confronting the past. There were some parts that felt drawn out and I wondered where they were going but overall everything fit together well.
Over the course of the series I’ve really come to love Aileana’s character. She’s stubborn but loyal, even when it might be to her detriment. She has faith in her friends, even when it seems like they might have betrayed her. She’s more than a little reckless, but her pain and trauma feels real and so does the way she deals with it. Also, since I’m a sucker for romance, I loved her relationship with Kiaran. First he is her mentor but then she falls in love with him. Kiaran is a fun character too, all broody and ‘no, I can’t fall in love with you’ but then he does and you find out why he’s all broody. (Ah, I may have a thing for broody immortals…) The thing I love about Kiaran most isn’t his relationship with Aileana, which feels fairly typical for these types of stories, but his relationship with his sister, Aithinne. It’s so nice to have a story about siblings! I love that his stance is that he isn’t going to kill his sister, even if it means the end of the world, he’d rather die himself. Aithinne may just be my favorite character in this series, and I’d gladly read her adventures as queen of the Fae.
The tone of this story can get pretty dark at times. Frankly, I wasn’t sure how the story would end up but I was satisfied with the ending, even if it felt like too neat of a solution. But when the world had been pretty much destroyed by a fae apocalypse there weren’t a lot of options–it was either going to be very grim and dark or kind of sappy. I don’t feel like there was a third option that would have felt satisfying so I’m happy that it ended on the note it did.
Overall, I enjoyed this conclusion to the series. If you’re thinking about picking up the series I’d say give it a try if you like YA with badass female characters that are able to show vulnerability, a touch of forbidden romance, and stories that involve the wars between the fae. 4/5 stars.