Fantasy · Ida's English Reading Corner

Review | ‘The Invasion of the Tearling’ by Erika Johansen (2015)


“If we could be better people,” she would say, “if we could care about each other as much as we do about ourselves, think about it, Lily! Think what the world would be!” – p. 175

This is the 2nd book of the ‘The Queen of the Tearling’ trilogy.

The Tearling has a new and powerful ruler: Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, the Tear heir. After managing to hold her throne long enough to make a dangerous enemy, the Red Queen, Kelsea has to face a possible invasion of her kingdom. The Red Queen is determined to seize power over the Tearling by killing Kelsea. But as the war progresses and the Red Queen’s army seems to loom closer to the border every day, Kelsea gains invaluable knowledge about the past and herself, which may yet prove helpful to keeping her kingdom…

I picked the book up directly after finishing the first one, ‘The Queen of the Tearling’ and I am still completely blown away by it. It was such a captivating read! Every second of the day I needed to know how the story continues. I needed to continue reading so bad I even started to read at work when there was nothing to do. Believe me, it was that good! I think I even liked it a tad more than the first one, simply because I came back to an already established world I felt at home in, I came back to characters I already knew and deeply cared about. And, most of all, the ‘Invasion of the Tearling’ is full with Kelsea being a real badass, a no-nonsense queen ready to kick some ass which was absolutely delightful to read. Although Kelsea discovers a dark side of herself which demands to be nourished, this was part of realizing who she was and what she could do – and maybe also refrain from doing.

“Something seemed to be unfurling inside Kelsea, unfolding stealthily, like a dark pair of wings opening in the night, and she wanted to spread them wide, feel their span. Always she had been a child of the light, loving the warm sun though the cottage windows, when it felt as though all things were right and kind. But the world was also full of darkness, a cold gulf that beckoned.” – p. 314

Like it was the case with the first book, I grew more and more attached to the characters and admired their depiction, their character development and how I was able to see them before me while I read. Whether important main characters like Mace and Kelsea or those that did not appear that often, I thought of them all as credible and believable. I felt for Ewen the jailor and hated Arlen Thorne and Greg Mayhew with all my heart. I despised Brenna and understood Father Tyler. I became invested with each and every one of them, so I am not surprised that I needed to know how the story evolved so badly that I kept carrying that book with me everywhere I went. And it is a heavy one, let me tell you that!

Other than that, I was more than happy to get to know what happened before the Crossing and how it even came to pass. The plot involved a lot of topics that made me sick to my stomach, because I realized that those were issues our society has struggled with a long time and is still struggling with while most people turn a blind eye towards these issues. I was shocked to read about marital abuse and even marital rape, about women simply being reduced to being another possession of their husbands – their only task to breed children and look nice so that the precious husbands can climb the career ladder.

The pre-crossing world, which the reader is able to catch a glimpse of is nauseating and points out the atrocious conditions of a world bringing itself to naught. I got very uncomfortable because it made me think of all the things that are going wrong in our own world today – the plot was full of it, if you read carefully: Homophobia. Racism. Child-trafficking. Fighting pits where children fight each other for money. The hypocrisy of a corrupt church lead by a ‘Holy Father’ who preaches abstinence and himself enjoys women and drugs. People who sentence others to death for all the wrong reasons. The list goes on and on. All the darkness lingering in the abyss of the human soul, showing the cruelty designed by mankind being brought to daylight one by one as the story progresses and Kelsea learns more and more about the circumstances that lead to the Crossing. Terrifying and fascinating at the same time, I could not stop reading because it seemed so devastatingly real to me.

“And Kelsea wondered suddenly whether humanity ever actually changed. Did people grow and learn at all as the centuries passed? Or was humanity merely like the tide, enlightenment advancing and then retreating as circumstances shifted? The most defining characteristics of the species might be lapse.” – p. 435

This book offered so many moments for me to feel elated, angry, shocked, flabbergasted, proud, disgusted, cheerful… and yes, sometimes I caught myself snickering or staring grimly at the pages before me. This book had no slow parts nor did I dislike anything in it. For me, it had been a perfect reading experience towards the end of the year. I for one cannot wait to start the final book of the trilogy and am so excited for the conclusion of the story.

Author:   Erika Johansen
Title:       The Invasion of the Tearling
Series:     The Queen of the Tearling (#2)
Press:      Bantam Press
Year of publication: 2015
Pages:      514
[Genre:    YA | Fantasy | SciFi – Dystopian]

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