By Erika Johansen
Published on July 8, 2014
Published by Harper
Published by Harper
On her nineteenth birthday, Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, raised in exile, sets out on a perilous journey back to the castle of her birth to ascend her rightful throne. Plain and serious, a girl who loves books and learning, Kelsea bears little resemblance to her mother, the vain and frivolous Queen Elyssa. But though she may be inexperienced and sheltered, Kelsea is not defenseless: Around her neck hangs the Tearling sapphire, a jewel of immense magical power; and accompanying her is the Queen’s Guard, a cadre of brave knights led by the enigmatic and dedicated Lazarus. Kelsea will need them all to survive a cabal of enemies who will use every weapon—from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic—to prevent her from wearing the crown.
Despite her royal blood, Kelsea feels like nothing so much as an insecure girl, a child called upon to lead a people and a kingdom about which she knows almost nothing. But what she discovers in the capital will change everything, confronting her with horrors she never imagined. An act of singular daring will throw Kelsea’s kingdom into tumult, unleashing the vengeance of the tyrannical ruler of neighboring Mortmesne: the Red Queen, a sorceress possessed of the darkest magic. Now Kelsea will begin to discover whom among the servants, aristocracy, and her own guard she can trust.
I really enjoyed this book, though I hesitated to get into it since there are a lot of novels on the market claiming to be like the Hunger Games or the Game of Thrones that are utterly awful. However, I can say with confidence that if you liked Game of Thrones, you will probably find this satisfying.
The Queen of Tearling is basically one long set-up to what promises to be a great series. This particular installation is broken into three books: the first follows 19-year-old Kelsea as she journeys from her hiding spot in the woods to the Keep of Tearling to claim her birthright as queen. She begins to realize that her ascent to the throne is not going to be an easy one, and what's more, no one respects her. She will need to win the heart of her people, it will not be handed to her.
The second book sees Kelsea claiming the throne amidst several assassination attempts. Slowly she gains the respect of those who can protect and help her, and she takes on the challenge of the Red Queen.
The third book shows Kelsea really embracing her kingdom and finding her true power.
What I find intriguing is that this all takes place after the "Crossing". From what the author mentions, this is a future time period, even though it feels distinctly medieval. For example, there are mentions of computers and calculators and heroin and plastic surgery, but that all disappears after the Crossing. We do not know much more about it, and I hope that the author elucidates it soon!
Something this I appreciate about the book: Kelsea is normal looking. She is not a hidden fairy flower with goddess-like flowing locks or dimples or anything even remotely resembling a Disney princess. She is a strong young woman full of justice, courage, and intelligence. Finally!
At this point, if you are like me, you are going to be eagerly awaiting the next in the series. Like any good serial, The Queen of Tearling draws you in and makes you love the characters (good and bad), and it makes you want to see where it is going next. I cannot wait to find out the back story of the Red Queen and why she is so utterly awful. I look forward to seeing the battle between Tear and Mortmesne. I highly recommend this.
A word to the tender-hearted: There is a fair amount of f-bombs dropped in this book. There is some sex alluded to, as well as quite a bit of brutality to women and children. I think maybe a mature high school student could enjoy it, but that a college-aged person would really like it. I think adults can also get quite a bit out of the story.
Go get it this summer!