The Queen of the Tearling
By Erika Johansen
Publication date: July 17, 2014
Bantam Press, 380 pages
Kelsea Glynn is the sole heir to the throne of Tearling but has been raised in secret by foster parents after her mother – Queen Elyssa, as vain as she was stupid – was murdered for ruining her kingdom. For 18 years, the Tearling has been ruled by Kelsea’s uncle in the role of Regent however he is but the debauched puppet of the Red Queen, the sorceress-tyrant of neighbouring realm of Mortmesme. On Kelsea’s 19th birthday, the tattered remnants of her mother’s guard – each pledged to defend the queen to the death – arrive to bring this most un-regal young woman out of hiding…
And so begins her journey back to her kingdom’s heart, to claim the throne, earn the loyalty of her people, overturn her mother’s legacy and redeem the Tearling from the forces of corruption and dark magic that are threatening to destroy it. But Kelsea’s story is not just about her learning the true nature of her inheritance – it’s about a heroine who must learn to acknowledge and live with the realities of coming of age in all its insecurities and attractions, alongside the ethical dilemmas of ruling justly and fairly while simply trying to stay alive…
— Goodreads.com description
I read The Queen of the Tearling thinking it was a YA fantasy, but I’d actually classify it as more adult. No, not because of ADULT SUBJECT MATTER. Moreso because, well, besides a very grownup 19-year-old main character, there aren’t any young adults in it.
But, no fear: It has plenty of YA appeal, especially when you consider that it’s being made into a moving starring YA fave Emma Watson.
Fantasy-wise, it’s a fantasy-lovers’ fantasy. It’s not super approachable to someone new to the genre, but big-time fantasy readers will appreciate how Johansen slowly unfurls her world before us, leaving a lot of questions unanswered and the readers quite eager for some more.
My big critique is that I’d have loved more insight into the timing of this story. It’s some sort of dystopian fantasy: set in a future world that has reverted back to medieval times. It is never clear that it is set in the future, so references to the ancient works of J.K. Rowling seem soooo out of place. It was more off-putting than intriguing as a result.
Oh, and it could have used some more romance. And the magic stuff confused the heck out of me.
But I’m still all in on the assumption that the kissing and explanations are coming down the line. We shall see! Loved the moral fortitude and strength of the main character, LOVED Lazarus, and am super intrigued by The Fetch…so I can’t wait for more!
Bonus factor: This is one of the most gorgeous physical books I’ve read in ages — a beautiful cover, beveled edging and a red ribbon bookmark. So classic and lovely I couldn’t help but pet it!