book review · erika johansen · the queen of the tearling

Review: The Queen of The Tearling by Erika Johansen

Title: The Queen of the Tearling
Author: Erika Johansen
Publication Date: July 8th 2014
Publisher: Harper
Series: Book #1 in the The Queen of the Tearling trilogy

Rating5 stars

Synopsis: The 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.

“Here is Glynn Queen, here is Red Queen,

One to perish beyond recall,

The Lady moves, the Witch despairs,

Glynn Queen triumph and Red Queen fall.”

Still cannot stop buzzing about this book, in all of it’s amazing glory.

Completely entranced in this world that Erika Johansen has created. The Queen of the Tearling is such an utterly unique fantasy/dystopian story. Reading a fantasy that takes place in the future, but has a setting of “medieval times” all while still having many of our common day advances such as contraceptives, was what really hooked me into this world. So much thought and effort went behind this story and it really shows through her writing.

I started off reading this story believing it was going to be another typical fantasy story only to soon find myself constantly flying through the pages, needing to know what happens next immediately. Kelsea Raleigh is evidently not the same girl at the beginning of the novel juxtaposed to the queen we see at the end. I can honestly say that she is one of my favorite queens that I have read about out of the many fantasy novels I’ve consumed. Kelsea is fearsome creature. In the outset of the novel we see her as just a plain, unassuming girl who doesn’t even have the respect of the people protecting her, but she soon grows into a force to be reckoned with.

Not much I can say to justify my love and adoration for Kelsea besides the essential component that she is just a smart person. The way she is developed makes her into such a tangible person, someone I can relate too. I love that Erika Johansen made her “plain” and not the typical “strikingly beautiful” description. I love how she was a little “overweight”. I love that she honestly isn’t that great with a sword or weapons for that matter. It makes her honest and true against the slew of characters who sometimes harbor great fighting skills in such a small amount of time. Kelsea is just badass in her own way. If there’s an issue, she’ll put a stop to it, immediately. If there’s a problem, she’ll throw herself into it. She uses her head to think situations through. I appreciate the love and care she has for her kingdom which she barely even knows. Just so much love for this character.

“Only appearance, Lady, but appearance in a queen is important. For you to wield a sword, it’s . . . not queenly.”
“I can’t be queenly when I’m dead. And I’ve had to defend myself too often lately to be content with only my knife.”

So many other phenomenal characters that appear throughout this book. The way Johansen manipulates the 3rd person perspective on the various characters so you can know them more in depth is just stellar. I really grew to love side characters such as Pen, Mace, the Fetch, even Javel at times.

The Red Queen was such a fascinating antagonist to read about. We don’t really get to see too much of her in this novel, but I’m all the more intrigued to read her chapters. She isn’t your typical brooding villain (though she is quite insane and frankly terrifying) there’s just something uniquely peculiar about her. I’m curious to know how did she become a witch, if she is in fact one. How is she able to stay alive all these year? I’m really hoping for more of her backstory in the next book. Even more so, I want to know how she became so magically powerful. And also how magic even ended up in these kingdoms.

One thing that really had me on board was the political aspect of it. The fate and problems of the kingdom was essentially the main focus of this book. Kelsea genuinely cares for the well-being of her people and wants to establish initiatives to not only feed and cloth them, but to give them education and teach them how to read. Even throughout all the disgruntlement and annoyance of others, Kelsea stays steadfast in her decisions to make things right and just.

I appreciated the camaraderie between Kelsea, Pen, and Mace. Each of their dynamics just go well and intermingle efficiently with each other. Though there is that Queen’s Guard loyalty between them, I can also see that there is an honest friendship among them. Kelsea’s general interactions between people are just so solid. Such as her conversations with Marguerite and Ahmaldie and how she begins to trust and appreciate them.

Even as one who loves romance in a complex plot, I’m glad that this book went without it (Well at least for now). This book shows how great a book can be even without romance. Kelsea’s concerns for her kingdom and potential war, is essentially her prime focus.

The Queen of the Tearling
was just a solid hit for me, and quickly became one of my favorites. There’s so much intrigue, magic, and so many unknown variables for the remaining books to take us. Can’t even contain myself to see what’s in store in Invasion of the Tearling.

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