The Queen of the Tearling
by Erika Johansen
Genre: Fantasy, New YA
Excerpt: Yes | Book Trailer: Yes
Reviewed by: Kate | Source: Publisher
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.
The Queen of the Tearling introduces readers to a world as fully imagined and terrifying as that of The Hunger Games, with characters as vivid and intriguing as those of The Game of Thrones, and a wholly original heroine. Combining thrilling action and twisting plot turns, it is a magnificent debut from the talented Erika Johansen.
In the vein of GRACELING or GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS, THE QUEEN OF THE TEARLING offers a rich fantasy world chock-full of political intrigue, heart-stopping moments, and an unconventional heroine who I fell in love with on page one.
THE QUEEN OF THE TEARLING is one of those books that I’m happy I read before I read any online reviews. There are a lot of complaints about THE QUEEN OF THE TEARLING, and I’m not saying that some of them aren’t valid, but it is a remarkably engaging book, and once I picked it up, I was barely able to set it back down again until I finished. It may seem similar to other books in the same genre, but it sets itself apart, with its older heroine, slightly more adult topics, and the setting, in a future world after some sort of apocalyptic event that caused the world’s population to lose their technology and gain magic.
While the blurb compares this book to THE HUNGER GAMES, I wouldn’t necessarily put the two together. I would recommend THE QUEEN OF THE TEARLING to an older teenage reader, since the main character is 19, and some of the descriptions of violence and sexual violence can be quite graphic, which may be disturbing to some people (younger and older alike). Kelsea is a wonderful heroine though, embodying the coming of age storyline, as she goes from being isolated in a forest, with only her foster parents for company, to growing into a queen of a country and all that entails. She was frequently focused on the world around her, sees the flaws, and pushes hard for improvement. By doing that, she earns the respect of those around her, and that was satisfying to see, from the beginning to the end, the growth in relationships.
I did have a few complaints however. First, I would say that the world building was a bit sparse. The events which led to the various kingdoms being created were nebulous, they was little to explain how civilization got to the point it did where the people were living in a feudal existence. Also, Kelsea tended to get on my nerves whenever she started talking about her appearance, and that was frustrating – mentioning it once is fine, twice is even okay, but after that and it started to become unclear why she was so focused on how she looked when she had so many other concerns to worry about.
If THE QUEEN OF THE TEARLING was designed to be great literature, it doesn’t succeed. However, if it was designed to be an entertaining book for older teenagers (and some adults), then it certainly achieves that goal. And as the movie rights are already picked up (and Emma Watson’s name has been connected to the project) I’m guessing that the latter is the intent, so if you go in with that mindset, you will not be disappointed. I know I’ll be back for book two!
- The Queen of the Tearling
+ Similar Titles
- Graceling by Kristen Cashore
- Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
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About the author
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