I have heard a lot about The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen. I believe that Emma Watson is said to be producing this story. I even checked it out of the library once, but wasn’t in the mood to read it so didn’t. However, I was at Word on the Street in Toronto last month and this book was being sold at a discount and I was in a buying mood. So I bought it…and then I bought the second book too because why not. Usually, I’m wary of YA. So when I started this book I started it with a sense of “Entertain me now!” which I realize isn’t the best way to go into reading a book, but that’s what happened, and let me tell this book did not disappoint.
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.
I was hooked from the get go. Fifty pages in and I was already invested in characters, and swearing viciously at other characters and praying that they would get what was coming to them. It’s always a good sign when a book can make you feel that much so early.
I really liked Kelsea. She’s a fearsome heroine, and puts me in mind of Tamora Pierce’s heroines. They are characters you aspire to be, characters that you always come back, and characters that you never grow tired of. The supporting characters are also very entertaining. I love Mace, and the Fetch and Pen. The Red Queen is fabulous because it’s so easy to hate her, and Thorne is fantastic because he’s almost like an Umbridge. His kind of evil exists in the world. It’s a relatable evil, and that makes it all the more terrifying.
The one thing that the book doesn’t go into really is the Crossing, and the pre-Crossing history, or the early post-Crossing history. I think that it’s going to be explained much more fully in the next book though, and I’m very interested to learn more about that.
Overall, this is a great story. The world building is interesting, the characters are great, and I can’t wait to see what happens next. This is definitely a book that you should pick up if you’re into fantasy.