THE QUEEN OF THE TEARLING by Erika Johansen

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.


Title : The Queen of the Tearling
Author : Erika Johansen
Series : The Queen of the Tearling (book one)
Format : physical
Page Count : 426
Genre : fantasy/dystopian
Publisher : Harper
Release Date : July 8, 2014

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

The Queen of the Tearling series is one of a few series I own in physical form that I have not finished. Shame. Most of these fall into the “read all but book three” category but this series is worse than that. Shame shame. I had preordered both books two and three.. and never read either. Shame shame shame! You would think that as of starting the WFH life, which for me began months ago, it would’ve been the ideal time to start churning through said physicals, or embarking on rereads from my shelf — and yes, I agree, I had good intentions to do so. I thought about it every day. But, ahem, we’re only starting that now.

But onto the book itself! I read THE QUEEN OF THE TEARLING five years ago and, despite all the books I’ve read since, I still somehow remembered a few scenes from this book quite vividly. As it turned out, I remembered the first 40% almost perfectly. It was everything after that point which felt sorta new to me. Which was actually kinda nice. Reading this ended up being less of a rehash than I thought it would. What was also nice was that while I remembered liking this back in 2015, I obviously couldn’t know if it would stand up after all this time, or if I’ve feel any different. But it did and I didn’t.

What I didn’t remember is that a) this isn’t the young kind of YA you might expect after reading the summary, and in fact I wouldn’t actually classify it as YA at all, and instead just slot this in under adult fantasy/dystopian with a heroine who happens to be nineteen, and b) I forgot this world was founded in the ashes of our own. Somehow. The Tearling was an attempt to leave a dying world of behind, as well as the technology that had likely helped speed it’s demise, and so some things (references, books, history) are familiar but the world of the now is less refined, more primitive, despite the knowledge of so much more. It makes for a strange experience but one I liked. But it is, still, fantasy.

There are a whole host of characters that get significant page time, if not actual POVs, other than Kelsea, and yes that includes an ensemble cast of guards. My favourite, we love an ensemble. Additionally we also have an enigmatic potential love interest (maybe? hard to say). The Queen herself is also a very interesting character. Despite having been hidden away, sheltered and sequestered, left ignorant by certain events both in history and from her own family’s past, she’s educated and righteous and definitely a character to root for. The author has also made her plus-sized (I think? there are mentions of her weight but I don’t know if she’s just meant to be chubby or more) as well as plain. And despite her intelligence, despite her strength, I appreciated the brief glimpses of insecurity, of vanity, that she fights against when confronted by her perceived shortcomings. In that sense (and others I won’t mention), I do see shades of Carson’s Girl of Fire and Thorns series but as I love those books? It’s not a bad thing. Also, like that series, there are a number of societal and social issues that Kelsea’s eyes are opened to after inheriting her crown, systems that have been put in place, compromises made, that ignite her rage. And I love that the author is spending time with this, instead of just directing the focus to a neighbouring ruler who has done evil. She must confront the horror and injustice in her own backyard, as well.

I’m so happy I picked this book up again, so happy I decided to start my Read Your Own Damn Owned Books, Hollis journey with this series, and I cannot wait to read on. And by that I mean immediately pick up book two because I am all about that binge lyfe.

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