Review: The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
Saturday, 27 June 2015
Title: The Queen of the Tearling
Author: Erika Johansen
Release Date: July 2014
Book one of a trilogy
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I realised recently that I absolutely love books with royalty, politics and some iffy characters who you just don't know if they can be trusted or not. This is one of those books and I really, really enjoyed it.
Kelsea Glynn was sent into hiding as a baby and has lived a sheltered life until now, her nineteenth birthday. Soldiers have arrived to escort her back to the kingdom where she was born to take the throne that is rightfully hers. But she isn't being welcomed back with open arms and the journey alone could see her demise. She has inherited a kingdom that is corrupt and in serious need of a strong ruler. Kelsea has to learn quickly to be the queen she was born to be.
Kelsea isn't always the easiest person to like. I didn't agree with some of her opinions but she has a great inner strength and intelligence which is much better than being a vacant weakling (like her mother was). Being isolated her entire life, she doesn't know a lot of details about the empire or her mother. We know very little of her mother and her rule and maybe that's because she didn't do much (it's stated at various times that she was more vain than intelligent) but I'm as eager as Kelsea for more details.
Kelsea isn't thin, attractive or a skilled fighter unlike other heroines that we tend to see in fiction nowadays. She makes various references to her appearance and comments her desires to be more beautiful. I can see why this would bother people as she doesn't just accept the way she looks and move on but I think it's more realistic. Especially when she is surrounded by people, male and female, who are handsome or beautiful. With that being said, I don't agree with her opinion that "...saw now that there was something far worse than being ugly: being ugly and thinking you were beautiful." I do think she is very courageous though. It would be easy for her to leave the decisions to someone else, someone who has been in the empire the entire time she was away, but she doesn't; she stands up, fights for what she thinks is right and bites back at the skeptics. So she isn't perfect but she is realistic.
I was intrigued by the magical element that is interspersed throughout the story. There are two magical necklaces that have an immense magical ability when worn together and I'm really interested to find out more about them. I suspect we've only seen a tiny amount of the power they possess and what can be achieved with them.
The world is a bit of a mystery. An event called The Crossing occurred some time ago which appears to be an apocalyptic type event and modern medicine was wiped out along with it. The current world is in the future but feels very medieval. I assume the loss of medicine and other modern resources (such as technology) has resulted in a return to medieval living. We are given barely any information about the Crossing though in spite of the number of times it is mentioned. Hopefully we'll learn more as the series progresses!
One of the things I really like is that even though this is a long book, we know that there is a major war still to come. I like that everything wasn't thrown into the first book; there's still plenty of action to come and mysteries still to be unraveled. That alone makes me excited to read the next book as I want to know more about the characters and how things are going to pan out.
There is practically no romance in this book (only the presence of some hot men) and I definitely didn't feel like the story was lacking because of it. It was actually kinda nice to be able to focus on other things and not have anybody impaired by romantic feelings. I'm convinced there are hints of a romance brewing between two people though and I'm secretly hoping I'm right as I would be on board with it.
I do think it is worth noting that isn't really suitable for the younger end of YA. There's strong profanity, references to rape (including child molestation/rape), a lot of sex and violence. I imagine it's being labelled as YA because the main character is nineteen but it is definitely graphic.
This book is getting a lot of mixed reviews: you'll either love it or hate it but I highly recommend giving it a try. I'm firmly in the "love it" group!
TL;DR: After being hidden away her whole life, Kelsea inherits the throne to a kingdom full of corruption and violence. She isn't perfect but she is realistic, courageous and intelligent. There are elements of magic, politics, and an apocalypse many years ago resulting in the current medieval-like world. There's no romance and it is extremely graphic. You'll either love it or hate it!