Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Queen of Tearling by Erika Johansen

Published: July 8th, 2014
Publisher: Harper
Pages: 448
Copy: Publisher through Edelweiss
Summary: Goodreads

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.

But the quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun—a wondrous journey of self-discovery and a trial by fire that will make her a legend…if she can survive.

The Queen of the Tearling introduces readers to a world as fully imagined and terrifying as that of The Hunger Games, with characters as vivid and intriguing as those of The Game of Thrones, and a wholly original heroine. Combining thrilling action and twisting plot turns, it is a magnificent debut from the talented Erika Johansen


I have to be honest- one of the first things that attracted me to this book was the cover, I absolutely love it. Then I read the blurb and I got excited. Sounded like a fantasy with potential.  Then I read it, and what I got was a dystopian fantasy that caught my interest in the first few pages and just kept getting better and better.

Ms Johansen has put together a fascinating future earth, where magic has reappeared and shares centre stage with the rediscovery of past wonders - like plastic surgery! The evil red queen was/is a geneticist who has managed to extend her own life and she really wants the young Queen of Tearling dead and gone.

I loved that life has reverted back to castles and swords and horses for transportation.  Medicine is primitive - and there is a really good explanation why.  Slavery and corruption are rampant, and at times the society sounded positively feudal, but it all worked.

Kelsea is a fascinating character, finding strength when it's least expected.  I loved that she is most definitely not thin and gorgeous - she's tall, a little heavy, and definitely plain, but she has a beautiful nature. I adored her, and all her 'Queens Guard'.  They are completely loyal to her- with one exception - but she has to earn their respect and the journey to achieve that is totally captivating.

I must point out that there is enough going on here of a disturbing nature that I wouldn't recommend it for younger teens, but otherwise I'll be recommending it to teens and adults both.  The story ends on a positive note, with no cliffhangers ( for which I am truly grateful) and it could be a standalone, but I'm really, really hoping that there is more to come, as I'm not ready to say goodbye to Kelsea and her guards.  A totally engrossing book filled with tension, excitement and easily relateable characters.  Highly recommended for dystopian and fantasy fans alike.


  1. Thanks for this review! The cover was what drew me into your post too! The description sounds like it could be a really fun read and your review is the icing on the cake. I agree that it is refreshing to have a "normal" heroine. You always read about the girls who are supposed to be plain or whatever, but ever man within driving distance is pining for her. And thank goodness for no cliffhangers!

    Tracy @ Cornerfolds

  2. Yay! I'm happy to see another positive review for this one! I have high hopes for it and the way you described the mix of dystopian and fantasy really got me more excited :D I'm also really digging the fact that the MC isn't your typical pretty/petite girl. I already love her more for it haha Thanks for the wonderful review ^^

    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews