21 August, 2017

[Review] The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

Series: Queen of the Tearling #1
Release Date: 8 July, 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Genre: Young Adult/Epic Fantasy/Coming of Age
ISBN:  9780062290366
Edition: Audiobook/Hardback
Review Written: 19 August, 2017 
Summary: Magic, adventure, mystery, and romance combine in this epic debut in which a young princess must reclaim her dead mother’s throne, learn to be a ruler—and defeat the Red Queen, a powerful and malevolent sorceress determined to destroy her.

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.

For Full Description and more information, please check out the HarperCollins website.

I remember seeing this book when it first came out, it's sleek cover and raised dust-jacket design appealing in ways that only a good book can be. Even at the time I was ready to read it however time was not my friend at the time. In the years following, especially this year, I've spent a lot more time listening to audiobooks and finally saw a way to tackle my desire to see exactly what Kelsea's legacy might be. 

The beginning of the book is a bit slow, following Kelsea's removal from the sheltered life in a cabin away from people. She's been raised since being a year old by Carlin and Barty Glenn, a former tutor and Queen's Guard, to be the queen her country needs, despite the numerous secrets that seem to surround her entire life. But now, on her Ninteenth birthday  Kelsea is swept away from the cabin to reclaim her throne at the center of New London, the capital of the Tearling. Numerous chapters follows her struggles to interact with her newly found guard, or rather the remnants of her mother's guard who swore to bring her to the city. 

Though the writing was good, I struggled a few times to continue listening through Kelsea's faults, perhaps because they struck home. She tends to allow her anger to rule her, turning her at times, into a different woman. Upon her arrival in the capital (after a run-in with a mysterious figure named The Fetch and his large camp of people), Kelsea is struck with a terrible truth. Her mother wasn't the wise and powerful ruler of her imagined childhood. And though she had been warned by the guard about it, she finds out quickly that her mother struck a bargain that is potentially the worst price for freedom. A monthly shipment of 800 people as slaves to the kingdom of Mortmesne to keep the Mort from completely destroying the kingdom. 

Embarrassed and furious with the realization that her mother sold people, including a large number of children, into slavery to save her own skin; Kelsea immediately sets out to right the wrong. As her first act as a ruler before ever wearing a crown, she ends the Shipment and sets the cages to fire once everyone has been returned. In it she also gains a number of staff for her wing in the Keep, including a woman with a mysterious past and a power of great value. Though occasionally Kelsea struggles to find the right course and earn the trust of her people and guards, the book progresses with few deviations from Kelsea's daily life, only switching a few times to show what's going on in other parts of the kingdom as the Mortmesne realize that the Tearling is beginning to rebel again.

I recommend this book for anyone who loves a good coming of age story set into a fantasy world with more questions than answers. It'll leave you wanting more, which Johansen definitely delivers in the second and third books of the series. 

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