The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen (The Queen of the Tearling #1)
Published April 14, 2015, 454 pp.
A young woman.
An evil enemy.
A birthright foretold . . .
With the arrival of her nineteenth birthday, Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn is ascending to her rightful place as the new Queen of the Tearling. Surrounded by enemies, including an evil sorceress possessed of dark magic, the young ruler stands little chance of success. But Kelsea possesses fearsome weapons of her own, including the Tear sapphire, a jewel of immense power and magic. As an epic war draws near, Kelsea’s quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny begins—a wondrous journey of self-discovery and a trial by fire that will make her a legend…if she can survive.
How goes it?
You know what Queen of the Tearling left me with? Questions. And a ton of “called it!!” moments, but I liked those moments. I have very few of them, so getting them right every now and then is satisfying. The paperback version of this is quite long – 400+ pages, and much of it is spent shifting between different points of view. There were spots that I wanted to skip over because wow I do not give two shits about this character? Give me Kelsea, give me Mace, at the very least, damn son give me Pen!
But the POVs do serve a purpose to see Kelsea’s ascension to the throne through different eyes and how it affects them, so while the character POVs aren’t exactly my favorite feature (because there are quite a number of POVs in this book), it makes it more… Multi-dimensional I guess. And they do add up quite nicely in the end of the book.
Kelsea isn’t my favorite heroine. She acts spoiled most of the time, which makes me side-eye some of her actions, and is unhealthily fixated on her appearance. I just want to give Kelsea a good dose of self-esteem. This child relies on others’ view of her too much, sometimes it makes me cringe reading her thoughts, especially about her appearance and weight. For someone who has spent most of her life in seclusion you’d think she wouldn’t be aware of societal norms regarding beauty, but Carlin is apparently an efficient tutor. Though I do understand it: she is a teenager after all. Which is why I can also somewhat brush off her thoughts whenever she sees handsome men (Lord, this child).
The plot itself is interesting, though the setting will have you puzzling for a bit. I think the author deliberately withheld information regarding a lot of things. Like what happened to the world and the Crossing had to occur? Where did they come from? If what happened was so catastrophic that they had to Cross, how did they find these lands? Wouldn’t they have gone in circles? How come no pre-Crossing knowledge has been passed along? Not even medicine, history, etc. While you’re reading you feel like you’re missing a huge chunk of the puzzle.
The setting starts out in a medieval setting – horseback, cottage out, Queen’s Guards – but then they suddenly start talking about Harry Potter, modern medicine, drugs, so you suddenly wonder when exactly is this set?? When was the Crossing anyway? This is dystopian??
The Queen of the Tearling is kind of like an earworm, in the sense that you can’t get it out of your head, and you can’t just stop at this one. Because I really want to see where Kelsea takes this, you know? Like where can she take the Tearling under her reign? Who is her father? And in my usual vein of being a somewhat-hopeless romantic: will there be a king to her queen?
4 paper planes for a pretty enjoyable ride through the Tearling with Kelsea! While she isn’t my favorite, I reckon she did the best she could under the circumstances. And for that I’m more than willing to give the next book, The Invasion of the Tearling, a go!