Monday, 9 February 2015

The Queen of the Tearling - Book Review

The Queen of the Tearling – Book Review
Erika Johansen
YA Fantasy
Queen of the Tearling Book #1
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 defenceless: Around her neck hangs the Tearling sapphire, a jewel of immense magical power, and accompanying her is the Queens 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.
Apart from having a completely gorgeous cover, ‘The Queen of the Tearling’ is an amazing read the gripped me from page one. Set in a fantasy world of a not so distant future, it takes the reader on a journey of trust, magic and self-discovery that explores both the corruption and responsibilities that come with power. It was a really great read and I’m counting down the months until the next book!
On the day of her nineteenth birthday, Kelsea becomes Queen of the Tearling, a small but vastly populated country that for too long has been ruled by Tyrants and suppressed by the woman known as ‘the red queen’ – a notorious witch who resides over the neighbouring kingdoms.
Yet Kelsea has lived her entire life in hiding.  Growing up in isolation, her adoptive parents saw her schooled in politics, history and social etiquette… but never was there a book labelled “How to rule a failing country”. But now Kelsea must find her voice or risk losing all. With an uncle plotting to overthrow her, the red queen threatening war and a damnable handsome thief, aka ‘The Fetch’ constantly in her thoughts, Kelsea must somehow win the love of her people, gain the loyalty of the queens guard and discover the secrets behind her twin sapphire necklaces, all before a knife can stab her in the dark.
Now involved in a deadly game of win all or die trying, Kelsea has assassin’s lining up to kill her and a traitor lurking somewhere behind the mask of a friend. With time working against her can she uncover the plots and schemes set to destroy her, or will her country crumbled before she even gets a chance to try to right the wrongs of her ancestors. The chess board is set, but the players remain a mystery and Kelsea must quickly learn who her opponents are if she is to have any hope of surviving the year...
I have seen many mixed reviews about this book, quite a few of them negative but I have to say, personally I really enjoyed it. It’s been a long time since I read a fantasy that truly captured my attention and I devoured this story within days. However the comparisons claiming this book to be a mix of hunger games and game of thrones, well… I don’t think this book is even remotely similar to either. ‘Queen of the Tearling’ is uniquely its own story and these comparisons do it no favours. So for anyone thinking of picking up this book, I can only ask that you approach it with no preconceptions.
The story itself is very action packed with a lot of mystery and intrigue. The history of the Tearling, particularly the events that happened during the reign of Kelsea’s mother, Elyssa, are shrouded in secrecy and Kelsea’s frustration in her lack of knowledge about such times are often echoed by the reader. However I think it is interesting how the author has made it so both the main character and the reader are alike in their curiosity to find out more backstory.
Also the setting of this book is rather unusual. In the beginning I thought that the Tearling was simply another fantasy realm, yet as the history of the world unfolds, you soon learn that the Tearling is in fact a futuristic echo of our own world, one that surfaced after a huge flood that set technology back hundreds of years and brought about the return of magic.   
As for the characters, Kelsea is a great heroine. Educated and brave, she shares her adoptive parent’s values of a modest and simple life. Accepting herself as plain, she is unable to acknowledge her own power and charms, yet despite her insecurities, she is ajust and strong leader and I look forward to seeing her grow, both as a woman and a Queen.
I also enjoyed the secondary characters immensely. The queen’s guard is built up of a plethora of personalities, each with their own dark past, while the villains themselves all have personal motives for wanting Kelsea dead. Furthermore the glimpses given of the red queen indicate that she has a greater agenda – and not necessarily a bad one – for the future of their world. She is however set on walking a dark path to achieve her goals. All of which add a layer of inquisitiveness to an already captivating story.
So overall a fantastic start to a promising new fantasy. Magical, unexpected and charmingly rich in plot, ‘The Queen of the Tearling’ is a brilliant read. 4 stars! 

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