Aileana Kameron only looks the part of a proper Scottish debutante. For the past year the only thing she’s cared about is vengeance on the faery that murdered her mother. She spends her night hunting with the help of a pixie and Kiaran MacKay, a faery who hunts his own kind and has taken Aileana under his wing. When the aftermath of a hunt leads to her being engaged against her will, Aileana doesn’t even have time to really process that when Kiaran informs her that the prison that holds the most powerful faeries is about to fail and they have one shot at reestablishing it or the world will be overrun by the faeries.
I vaguely remember reading this book when it first came out (around 2013) and thinking that it was a breath of fresh air in the YA Fantasy genre. Then I couldn’t find the sequels and forgot about it. And it definitely holds up. I love the Scottish setting and the way it weaves in Scottish mythology and language. The combination of faery magic and Steampunk technology also works really well. But what really carries the book are the characters.
Aileana is full of rage and grief, and the author lets her feel it. She’s flawed, and that helps shapes the story rather than being an informed attribute like in many YA novels. Kiaran is an interesting mystery; there’s clearly more to his story, but we only get a little trickle of information as the story is being told from Aileana’s point of view. The two of them have great chemistry together that makes you root for them even if you do think that there is something sus about Kiaran. The book ends on a hell of a cliffhanger, and I’m already diving into the second book. Four out of five stars.