I received this book free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
Series: The Queen of the Tearling, #1
Published by Harper Paperbacks on July 8th 2014
Source: TLC Book Tours
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Also by this author: The Invasion of the Tearling, The Fate of the Tearling
Young Kelsea Raleigh was raised in hiding after the death of her mother, Queen Elyssa and knows little of her kingdom’s haunted past . . . or that its fate will soon rest in her hands.
Long ago, Kelsea’s forefathers established 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 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 her realm will precipitate an act of immense daring, throwing the entire kingdom into turmoil—and unleashing the Red Queen’s vengeance.
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.
‘The future was only disasters of the past, waiting to happen anew.’
Princess Kelsey Raleigh Glynn has known from an early age that as soon as she turned nineteen, when she officially came of age, that she would ascend the throne as The Queen of the Tearling. Smuggled from the kingdom in an effort to protect her from would-be assassins, she is raised by her foster parents Barty and Carlin and theirs are the only two individuals she interacts with her entire life. Her mother, long dead, had left her kingdom in the hands of her brother, Thomas Raleigh, and Kelsea’s arrival to court certainly throws a wrench in his continued plan to rule. The policies put in place by her mother and upheld by her Uncle don’t sit well with Kelsea and she sets out to make things better so her people are truly protected but this is only the start of her journey.
‘The Queen held up her hands for silence. At that moment, Javel knew for certain that she truly was the Queen, though he never knew why or how he knew.’
Regardless of all the talk of thrones and kingdoms and courts, this story is not set in some medieval past but rather a distant future where an unexplained catastrophe has managed to bring about a dark age. No technology exists, books are not commonly owned with most individuals not even possessing the ability to read, violence is rampant, and slave ownership is customary. This story definitely would have worked far better if it was a true fantasy (which it is not, even though it is marketed as such) rather than a future based on our current reality, especially with the lack of explanation regarding how we as a society could have possibly gotten to that point. It could almost be called a dystopian, but even that doesn’t completely fit. Honestly, it’s better just to go in with the belief this is nothing more than a fantasy because if you attempt to rationalize the world-building you’ll be at it for days. In terms of this being viewed as a fantasy story though, this has been billed as an exciting new entry into the fantasy and alas I believe this to be anything but. Simply put, this fantasy and historical fiction mash-up will appeal to fans of the genre even if it doesn’t necessarily bring anything unique to the table.
Game of Thrones meets Hunger Games has been the standard comparison and while there are aspects that fit with both stories, it unfortunately only sets the reader up for failure if going in with that comparison in mind. The Game of Thrones comparison is shown in the medieval aspects, the political strife, and the inner turmoil of the court. Everyone is either good or evil though, Kelsey is something of a Mother Teresa and the villain of this tale is a mass murderer so it’s completely black and white. And speaking of color, there is a decided lack of diversity and that is something that I admittedly fail to notice in most cases, but apparently not this one. While there may be some form of diversity present in some way shape or form, it’s never referenced. The Hunger Games comparison is mostly in regards to the the heroine, but Kelsey is certainly no Katniss. Our character definitely had appealing qualities but we got off to a rocky start. Here’s a girl that has had no interaction with the outside world and her only knowledge consists of what she is told and what she has read in books. As soon as she has begun her journey to her kingdom, she transforms into this individual completely lacking in self-doubt (minus the strange fixation she has on her plainness and of others beauty or lack of), holds herself and comports herself as a Queen would be expected to. And while I loved this aspect of her because she was a force to be reckoned with, it just didn’t fit with our initial introduction to her. I did thoroughly enjoy the magical aspects of this tale, the sapphire necklaces that she wears, and the power that she learns to wield.
While I did not adore this as many have mainly due to my hopes for additional world-building explanations, this world still managed to sufficiently intrigue me. The Queen of the Tearling is the start of a trilogy and I have hope that Johansen will be able to build further on the foundation she’s laid.
This post was a part of ‘the Tearling trilogy’ blog tour.
Check out this post for a complete list of tour stops!