Fantasy · Ida's English Reading Corner

Review | ‘The Queen of the Tearling’ by Erika Johansen (2014)

“Tear Queen, you’ll either be dead within a week or you’ll be the most fearsome ruler this kingdom has ever known. I see no middle ground.”

The Queen of the Tearling, p. 109

Today I want to share with you a reread of mine – namely the first book of a trilogy, “The Queen of the Tearling” by Erika Johansen. This book, as so many before, has been either loved or hated by its readers, and there seemed to be no middle ground there, too. I decided to reread the first two books before getting my hands on the third and final one. Since I loved the books during my first read, I want to be as updated as I can be for the best reading experience possible for the last book. Although I have to admit that I grew cautious and nervous that I wouldn’t like it as much the second time around – I blame the 1 star reviews that ranted about the whole book as if there were no tomorrow. Christ! Would y’all please keep it together!

So what is the first book about? Here we have Kelsea Glynn, the heroine of this story, who has been raised by her foster parents far away from her home, where no one could find her. The reason for that is her being a princess inheriting the throne of a kingdom where a lot of powerful people want her dead. With her 19th birthday, she has to leave everything else behind in order to try and regain her throne. Surrounded by her new found guards, she learns more and more about the kingdom she is meant to rule – and the dangers that await. Now the question remains whether she will live long enough to be crowned queen and how she will cope with her corrupt and damaged kingdom once this is accomplished.

This was a really enjoyable read – and even though I already read the two first books more than a year ago, I am excited to continue the story with ‘The Invasion of the Tearling’. My dearest bookfriends, if you decide to start with this book, I highly recommend not to read it because of its labels (‘young adult fantasy novel’, ‘mixture of Game of Thrones and The Hunger Games’). Let yourself be surprised by how the story evolves and like it for what it is and not for what it’s labelled as.

Although the setting was a bit difficult for me to settle in to (for example because of the varying landscapes and housing) I liked how this world came to life with every new scenery in the book. It reminded me a bit of the first book of Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy, where the reader is a bit lost in the surroundings, which to me seemed to support the plot. In this case, Kelsea comes to know this world a bit like the reader him or herself. Because of her being raised in the woods and having been taught a lot of the hard facts about the real world during her preparation for being queen, she is confronted with new and confusing surroundings every day.

I also liked how the characters were constructed. They all feel genuine and individual and, most of all, believable. These are people formed by their experiences, by the devastating consequences of war, hunger, loss and a corrupt kingdom that cared only for its own luxurious way of living. Kelsea herself was also very believable and throughout the story, I was very glad to see that Kelseas personality was indeed well thought through.

She is a 19-year-old who has spent most of her life isolated, only knowing two grown-ups while never encountering any other people her own age. Understandably, she has to find her way with others once she is on her way to her throne, meeting more people in one day than she ever had in her whole life in isolation. Since she has a very biased view on what kind of a queen her mother was, she is constantly asking herself how she herself wants to rule her kingdom and if the only royal role model she ever looked up to, her mother, who was mostly known and loved for her beauty, can truly be a role model for her. Kelsea, seeing herself and being described as plain and sturdy, struggles to accept her outward appearance. I thought it was quite remarkable to follow Kelseas mindset change a little bit, struggling to understand that outward appearance does not equal a just and powerful ruler.

I love how many topics are woven into the plot: politics, corruption, drug abuse, growing-up, self-acceptance, slavery, war … just to name a few. And I also really liked that although there was romance involved, it wasn’t too much and did not form the center of the novel.

The center is a young woman fighting for acceptance, a young queen willing to fight for her people and a just political system. I loved it and am so excited for the second one.

Author:   Erika Johansen
Title:       The Queen of the Tearling
Series:     The Queen of the Tearling (#1)
Press:      Bantam Books
Year of publication: 2014
Pages:      490
[Genre:    YA | Fantasy | SciFi – Dystopian]

4 thoughts on “Review | ‘The Queen of the Tearling’ by Erika Johansen (2014)

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