Review: ‘The Queen of the Tearling’ by Erika Johansen

Blurb from GoodReads:

An untested young princess must claim her throne, learn to become a queen, and combat a malevolent sorceress in an epic battle between light and darkness in this spectacular debut—the first novel in a trilogy.

Young Kelsea Raleigh was raised in hiding after the death of her mother, Queen Elyssa, far from the intrigues of the royal Keep and in the care of two devoted servants who pledged their lives to protect her. Growing up in a cottage deep in the woods, Kelsea knows little of her kingdom’s haunted past . . . or that its fate will soon rest in her hands.

Long ago, Kelsea’s forefathers sailed away from a decaying world to establish 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—loyal soldiers who protect the throne—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 the heart of her realm will precipitate an act of immense daring, throwing the entire kingdom into turmoil—and unleashing the Red Queen’s vengeance. A cabal of enemies with an array of deadly weapons, from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic, plots to destroy her. But Kelsea is growing in strength and stealth, her steely resolve earning her loyal allies, including the Queen’s Guard, led by the enigmatic Lazarus, and the intriguing outlaw known simply as “the Fetch.”

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.


I had quite a few hopes for this book- I hoped it would be similar to Alison Croggan’s ‘Books of Pellinor’ series, for instance- and it started out well, with the young Queen-to-be, Kelsea, leaving on a dangerous quest to go to a region called the Tearling and take up her throne. I hoped it would be a bit like ‘Game of Thrones’ full of political machinations and deadly schemes. But to be honest, I couldn’t finish this-Kelsea came off as overly defensive and whiny, the geography/history of the Tearling wasn’t really explained- nor why its rulers are so quickly and effciently despatched-and Kelsea was surrounded by rough-tough-yet-unfeasibly-handsome guards who all kind of blended into each other. They seemed to spend all of them time riding around, not telling her anything.

The evil sorceress queen at the heart of it all felt a bit too predictable for me, a bit of a one-dimensional baddie who tortures people just for the sake of it. Plus, I began the book thinking it was a fantasy series, and was therefore left alienated by random, unexplained references to ‘New Europe,’ Europe and ‘New America.’ Eh?? I quickly lost interest, and ended up not finishing it. An interesting premise, with some good description and a nice pace, but ultimately disappointing. For a high fantasy novel, it was incredibly slow paced. I would recommend Alison Croggan’s work instead.

Overall rating: 3 out of 10

This book in four words: Shows. Promise. But. Dull.

Read if you enjoyed: ‘The Shadow Queen’ by CJ Redwine

Image is from Tumblr. If you look close, you can see that it’s actually an image of (the amazing actress) Emma Watson, which kind of makes sense as apparently she loved this book (there’s a quote from her on the back cover!) and there are also rumours that she may play Kelsea in a movie adaptation. (But those are just rumours, so don’t quote me on it!) Perhaps a movie adaptation would be better.




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