Author: Erika Johansen
Book Title: The Queen of the Tearling
Genre: Adult Fiction – Fantasy
Type: Series – Book #1
Format: Hardcover, 448 Pages
Publishing Date: July 17, 2014
Summary: “Kelsea Glynn is the sole heir to the throne of Tearling but has been raised in secret by foster parents after her mother – Queen Elyssa, as vain as she was stupid – was murdered for ruining her kingdom. For 18 years, the Tearling has been ruled by Kelsea’s uncle in the role of Regent however he is but the debauched puppet of the Red Queen, the sorceress-tyrant of neighbouring realm of Mortmesme. On Kelsea’s 19th birthday, the tattered remnants of her mother’s guard – each pledged to defend the queen to the death – arrive to bring this most un-regal young woman out of hiding…
And so begins her journey back to her kingdom’s heart, to claim the throne, earn the loyalty of her people, overturn her mother’s legacy and redeem the Tearling from the forces of corruption and dark magic that are threatening to destroy it. But Kelsea’s story is not just about her learning the true nature of her inheritance – it’s about a heroine who must learn to acknowledge and live with the realities of coming of age in all its insecurities and attractions, alongside the ethical dilemmas of ruling justly and fairly while simply trying to stay alive…” [summary from Goodreads]
My Thoughts: Usually I don’t look at other reviews prior to writing my own to prevent other opinions from interfering with mine but with this book I did. Well, kind of. I only skimmed through some on Goodreads to see what the general ratings were and it was pretty clear. People either loved it or they hated it, not much in between, and I happen to be one of those who loved it…well, the majority of it anyway.
I finished reading this a few days ago and I’ve been sitting here trying to put my thoughts into a coherent post but for some reason it’s been challenging to do so. When I began reading the book I was extremely frustrated because it felt like there was so much that the author wasn’t sharing with me, as the reader, but also with the main character, Kelsea. I wanted to pull my hair out every time Kelsea asked a question and got a cryptic answer in return by everyone around her. Not one person would give her any information about the life that she was about to enter into and it really pissed me off, it pissed her off too, which made me like her even more. However, it began to feel as if the novel wasn’t going anywhere but then I realized the brilliance of this tactic. Well, maybe not brilliance but it was definitely something the writer must have done on purpose to keep the reader hopeful enough that answers would come with every turned page. By writing it this way, we get to empathize with Kelsea’s frustrations and discover every new detail at the same time she does, which is kind of a cool way to tell a story. The waiting that I originally found frustrating became gratifying as those unanswered questions became clear and the plot developed. Kelsea developed too and that pleased me even more. Hopefully this won’t push anyone away from reading this book because it really was great and even though the answers didn’t come as quickly as I hoped, the action involved during those few chapters made up for it. I kept turning page after page, obviously hooked and desperate to know what Kelsea would encounter next.
Three characters stood out to me the most: Kelsea, was brazen and bold in her actions and I felt a strong sense of girl power while getting to know her. However, she was also insecure underneath that tough girl exterior. Constantly questioning her choices and putting herself down, referring to her appearance as ugly, overweight, and not having the right look to be a queen. While I could relate to her, it bothered me a bit too because it was like saying that someone who isn’t beautiful to the masses is unfit to be in a place of power. I felt as though the focus on her appearance was nonessential and could’ve been removed but at the same time it did make me see her as a human being, flawed as we all are. A 19 year old girl just trying to fit into societies demands for perfection. It’s a mixed bag for me on this one so I’ll move on. The Fetch is a mysterious bad ass who swoops in whenever it suits his agenda and leaves you unsure whether you want to smack him or kiss him as a form of thank you and The Mace, also known as Lazarus and is one of Kelsea’s guards, is a pretty tight lipped man and I wanted to strangle him a bunch of times but I still found him to be awesome. I was reminded of Gimli from Lord of the Rings a bit with his rugged nature, bravado, and fighting skills, completely suspecting that there is a softer guy beneath those external layers.
This book was a great way to end the summer (as if that is even possible down here in blistering heat of Florida) and I’m really excited to find out more about them all in the next book. I’m also really looking forward to seeing who will play them in the upcoming film adaptation starring my favorite witch, Emma Watson! 😀
[NOTE: Many people think that this is a YA book but it isn’t and it has a lot of visual scenes as well as foul language that some may not be comfortable with. I did not find it any more violent than that of The Hunger Games trilogy though, which was for a younger audience so it really is at the discretion of the reader how this book will be received.]
Quotable Moments: “Those who cease to worry about their souls often find them difficult to reclaim later”
“Stories moved Kelsea most, stories of things that never were, stories that transported her beyond the changeless world of the cottage.”