The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen (The Queen of the Tearling #2)
Published June 9, 2015 by Harper, 515 pp.
With each passing day, Kelsea Glynn is growing into her new responsibilities as Queen of the Tearling. By stopping the shipments of slaves to the neighboring kingdom of Mortmesne, she crossed the Red Queen, a brutal ruler whose power derives from dark magic, who is sending her fearsome army into the Tearling to take what is hers. And nothing can stop the invasion.
But as the Mort army draws ever closer, Kelsea develops a mysterious connection to a time before the Crossing, and she finds herself relying on a strange and possibly dangerous ally: a woman named Lily, fighting for her life in a world where being female can feel like a crime. The fate of the Tearling —and that of Kelsea’s own soul—may rest with Lily and her story, but Kelsea may not have enough time to find out.
How goes it?
“A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.” – William Styron
What a great way to sum up how I felt after finishing this book; I will probably use this quote whenever reading a book taxes me out. This is basically me after finishing the Invasion of the Tearling, not the least because we have several POVs again; we all knew Kelsea wouldn’t have it easy after what she did in the Queen of the Tearling, but somehow even I forgot that this girl is just 19 years old. With her queenly duties, a whole kingdom relying on her to save them, and an invading army on their door, it doesn’t make being a teenager any easier.
The Invasion of the Tearling opens with Hall, a colonel in the Tear army, guarding the Tearling’s border against the advancing Mort army. This is after Kelsea, in one of her earliest and biggest decisions as queen, stops the shipment of slaves to Mortmesne and consequently, puts in motion the titular invasion. There are also flashbacks to a lady who lived in the pre-Crossing, named Lily Mayhew, who may hold some answers for Kelsea.
The thing about this series is that it feels like two different books in one, but not in a bad way. Kelsea has visions that place her in the shoes of a Lily Mayhew, and it’s through these visions that she has insight as to how the Crossing took place. While I didn’t particularly care for the constant POV switching, this actually helped answer some of the questions I had from the first book. If the first felt like there were so many question marks, this helped answer some of them; such as where this pre-Crossing people came from, how did they cross, etc. But probably not the most persistent question: who is Kelsea’s father and why do people refuse to tell her?
To be honest this book has so much going on that you grapple to understand everything. The constant threat of the Mort army bearing down on the border, Kelsea’s depression, the fact that her guards think it’s sorcery when she becomes prettier (I’m actually kind of offended for Kelsea, I mean just because the girl is starting to look pretty according to y’all it boils down to sorcery? Guards I thought you were better than this), the doubt that constantly assails Kelsea over every decision she makes – it’s all a bit much, but oddly enough all this makes Kelsea seem more real. I liked her better here – she thinks things through, sometimes a bit too much, but I like that she thinks about what happens after she makes her decisions.
I think there’s a connection between Kelsea’s fixation on her looks and the Red Queen, but it’s either I didn’t get it, or the book didn’t expand on it enough. Like I can make a tenuous connection, but nothing really solid. I hope it’ll be explored more in the next (and final) book. And I do think the deal she made with Rowland Finn will come back to bite her in the ass later, but hopefully she’ll manage to divert that too. Let Kelsea rest! (#savekelsea2k16 pls haha)
What I don’t get is why people in the book, especially her Guard, are so surprised, and maybe even disappointed, that she’s changing. Was she supposed to be brash forever? Supposed to be idealistic, if not optimistic? Mace comments that she’s swayed by a crowd now, that she’s become more brutal – what was she supposed to do? Even if I do kind of understand where he’s coming from.
I like how this ended, I really did. It was Kelsea being the best kind of noble idiot – like she didn’t have a choice, because she’s backed into a corner, and she couldn’t have done it in a better way. If anything, that ending has me firmly in Kelsea’s corner now.
4 paper planes! I really don’t care much for the multiple POVs because it jolts me out of the reading rhythm I’ve established, but I can see how this is used in the storytelling of the book. Otherwise, another great sequel! The ending had me regretting reading this so much earlier than the release date of the final book.