About The Queen of the Tearling
A #1 Indie Next Pick and LibraryReads Selection
Magic, adventure, mystery, and romance combine in this epic debut in which a young princess must reclaim her dead mother’s throne, learn to be a ruler—and defeat the Red Queen, a powerful and malevolent sorceress determined to destroy her.
On her nineteenth birthday, Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, raised in exile, sets out on a perilous journey back to the castle of her birth to ascend her rightful throne. Plain and serious, a girl who loves books and learning, Kelsea bears little resemblance to her mother, the vain and frivolous Queen Elyssa. But though she may be inexperienced and sheltered, Kelsea is not defenseless: Around her neck hangs the Tearling sapphire, a jewel of immense magical power; and accompanying her is the Queen’s Guard, a cadre of brave knights led by the enigmatic and dedicated Lazarus. Kelsea will need them all to survive a cabal of enemies who will use every weapon—from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic—to prevent her from wearing the crown.
Despite her royal blood, Kelsea feels like nothing so much as an insecure girl, a child called upon to lead a people and a kingdom about which she knows almost nothing. But what she discovers in the capital will change everything, confronting her with horrors she never imagined. An act of singular daring will throw Kelsea’s kingdom into tumult, unleashing the vengeance of the tyrannical ruler of neighboring Mortmesne: the Red Queen, a sorceress possessed of the darkest magic. Now Kelsea will begin to discover whom among the servants, aristocracy, and her own guard she can trust.
But the quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun—a wondrous journey of self-discovery and a trial by fire that will make her a legend . . . if she can survive.
Erika Johansen grew up and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She went to Swarthmore College, earned an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and eventually became an attorney, but she never stopped writing.
First things first, I was under the impression this was a young adult book. I think it’s even shelved as YA on Goodreads. Kelsea is 19, so this really falls in that whole “new adult” category, at least if you stick to the definition of genre based on the age of the main character. BUT. There’s strong language and some descriptive scenes that are pretty definitively NOT young adult. It didn’t bother me – and likely won’t bother most adult readers – but it’s something that parents, teachers, and anyone who recommends books to younger readers needs to be aware of. I know some YA books toe the line, but this one isn’t one of them, and probably shouldn’t be shelved as YA.
I also don’t think the description is entirely accurate. There’s very little romance (at least at this point), the magic is mostly hinted at (probably because the characters don’t even understand it), and Kelsea isn’t exactly serious and really doesn’t seem insecure about ruling a kingdom at all. In fact, she seems pretty capable. But that’s neither here nor there, and even if the description isn’t quite right, I still wanted to read this book…so obviously it did what it was supposed to!
Now, on to the review! To sum it up – I devoured this book. I read it in 2 nights, and gave it four out of five stars.
I have to admit, when I opened the book and found a map, I immediately got excited. I have a thing for maps. To be honest, I’m not sure I’ve ever NOT liked a book with a map. I didn’t use the map much in this one, and didn’t really need to. But it’s nice knowing it’s there. In terms of world-building, this one was a bit of an enigma for me. The story clearly has some post-apocalyptic leanings, but to me it felt much more old-world. I often pictured scenery from Game of Thrones.
Actually now that I think about it, the Game of Thrones comparison isn’t too terribly far off….though I don’t think Tearling is anywhere near as….tense? Violent? Horrifying? All of the above, really (though Tearling does have a few moments that made me cringe). I’d put this closer along the lines of Graceling or Throne of Glass – both of which I loved.
I’d like to have known more about the history of New London and the Crossing and all that went horribly wrong, but I understand why Johansen didn’t include it. Throughout the story, you’re more or less experiencing the world through Kelsea’s eyes – and she has huge gaps in her knowledge as well. So you discover it with her, which works well in this. I expect that the second and third books reveal more, as Kelsea finds her way and truly comes into her own as Queen.
Speaking of Kelsea…I sometimes find it hard to relate to younger protagonists, particularly those who find themselves as rulers of a kingdom. That just hasn’t been my life experience. *Grin* That said, I thought Kelsea was actually fairly easy to relate to. She’s wickedly funny, doesn’t seem to take herself too seriously, yet has strong convictions. She’s just naive enough to be believable, and just mature enough to be inspiring. Johansen does a great job of balancing her character, and making her someone you want to cheer for.
If I have to find a flaw, it’s that the supporting characters are fairly underdeveloped. We don’t really get to know any of them well – we get glimpses of some, but for the most part, they’re one-dimensional. That’s not a problem, per se, but I do hope we see more nuances in the second and third books, particularly of the Fetch, Pen, and Andalie. I also expect Father Tyler will be a bigger player, and I’m curious to see how their relationship unfolds.
As the first in a trilogy, of course I was left with lots of questions….but they’re questions I want to know the answer to. Will the Red Queen invade? Will Kelsea find out who her father is? What will happen with the Fetch? Will Thorne continue to wreak havoc? Just what is UP with those necklaces? And what will become of the library she so desperately wanted?
I really enjoyed Queen of the Tearling, and will definitely continue the trilogy. It’d been on my list for a while, and I’m a little sad that I didn’t read it before now!
Thanks to TLC Book Tours for the chance to join this tour. Check out the rest of the tour stops here!