The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen – Review

Cover- The Queen of the Tearling

Published: July 8, 2014

Publisher: Harper

ISBN: 9780062290366

Pages: 448 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0


An untested young princess must claim her throne, learn to become a queen, and combat a malevolent sorceress in an epic battle between light and darkness in this spectacular debut—the first novel in a trilogy.

Young Kelsea Raleigh was raised in hiding after the death of her mother, Queen Elyssa, far from the intrigues of the royal Keep and in the care of two devoted servants who pledged their lives to protect her. Growing up in a cottage deep in the woods, Kelsea knows little of her kingdom’s haunted past . . . or that its fate will soon rest in her hands.

Long ago, Kelsea’s forefathers sailed away from a decaying world to establish a new land free of modern technology. Three hundred years later, this feudal society has divided into three fearful nations who pay duties to a fourth: the powerful Mortmesne, ruled by the cunning Red Queen. Now, on Kelsea’s nineteenth birthday, the tattered remnants of the Queen’s Guard—loyal soldiers who protect the throne—have appeared to escort the princess on a perilous journey to the capital to ascend to her rightful place as the new Queen of the Tearling.

Though born of royal blood and in possession of the Tear sapphire, a jewel of immense power and magic, Kelsea has never felt more uncertain of her ability to rule. But the shocking evil she discovers in the heart of her realm will precipitate an act of immense daring, throwing the entire kingdom into turmoil—and unleashing the Red Queen’s vengeance. A cabal of enemies with an array of deadly weapons, from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic, plots to destroy her. But Kelsea is growing in strength and stealth, her steely resolve earning her loyal allies, including the Queen’s Guard, led by the enigmatic Lazarus, and the intriguing outlaw known simply as “the Fetch.”

Kelsea’s quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun. Riddled with mysteries, betrayals, and treacherous battles, Kelsea’s journey is a trial by fire that will either forge a legend . . . or destroy her.

My first impression upon seeing this book was that it had the most beautiful scrolling lines on the cover and that the title was quite intriguing. “What is a Tearling?” I wondered to myself. Well, the Tearling are the people that reside in the country of Tear, ruled by a drunkard sellout of a Regent. Well, until Kelsea, the rightful heir to the throne turns of age and is brought out of hiding to sit her throne. I was impressed by how strong and certain a character Kelsea was. Though she was a mere 19 years of age, she was trained to make wise decisions from a very early age and it certainly paid off. I find that many times, the young new queen characters are uncertain and make childish choices. Kelsea does make rash choices and doesn’t always think through the consequences, but she does make wise choices.

It is said that the easy choice and the right choice are not always the same. I find that this is true, and apparently Erika Johansen had something similar in mind for her character. Kelsea makes a choice to end a slave shipment to the kingdom of Mortmesne, to whom the Tearling have been paying tithe to. Children are ripped from their mother’s arms and wives and husbands are torn from one another to be sold into servitude to the enemy. This cruel tithe is the only way to appease the much stronger nation of Mortmesne, which has superior military forces, technology, and supplies in addition to an un-aging Queen.

I love that this book really prods some thought on what it is like to have to make decisions for a nation of people. Though this book seems to be primarily targeted to a younger audience (think YA to New Adult) it is surprisingly deep and well thought out. Kelsea is also not marketed as a great beauty, but a rather plain, perhaps slightly overweight girl that loves to read and walk about the woods. She seems so relatable and perhaps that is why I liked her character so much. She had a temper and fought with her guard, fell in love with a criminal, and has trouble getting people to take her seriously at first. It turns out I’m rather fond of this book, contents and cover art.

I plan on reading The Invasion of the Tearling as soon as I whittle down my TBR pile to a reasonable size, which is unlikely to happen for a month or so. The Queen of the Tearling was a great start to a series and I think that it’s definitely worth a read. If your reading this post and you’ve read it tell me what you thought about it.


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