12 September, 2017

[Review] The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

Series: Queen of the Tearling #3
Release Date: 29 November, 2016
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Genre: Young Adult/Epic Fantasy/Royalty
ISBN:  9780062290427
Edition: Audiobook
Rating: ★☆☆
Review Written: 31 August, 2017 
Summary: In less than a year, Kelsea Glynn has transformed from a gawky teenager into a powerful monarch. As she has come into her own as the Queen of the Tearling, the headstrong, visionary leader has also transformed her realm. In her quest to end corruption and restore justice, she has made many enemies—including the evil Red Queen, her fiercest rival, who has set her armies against the Tear.

To protect her people from a devastating invasion, Kelsea did the unthinkable—she gave herself and her magical sapphires to her enemy—and named the Mace, the trusted head of her personal guards, regent in her place. But the Mace will not rest until he and his men rescue their sovereign, imprisoned in Mortmesne.

Now, as the suspenseful endgame begins, the fate of Queen Kelsea—and the Tearling itself—will finally be revealed.

See more at HarperCollins's website.

The Fate of the Tearling brings the tale of Kelsea Glynn to a close, though perhaps not in the way readers might think. Taken captive by the Mort at the end of The Invasion of the Tearling, Kelsea spends much of the book trapped in Mortmesne with a struggle whether she should help the Red Queen (who turned out to be one of her relatives, Evelyn Raleigh) with the threat that she unleashed. Her visions, which had seemingly stopped at first since she gave the Red Queen in exchange to leave the Tearling untouched for three years, return with a force this time following Katie Rice, the daughter of Doreen Rice.

It’s in the Better World that Kelsea follows the history of the early Tearling closely, trying to see how she can protect her people and those of Mortmesne from Roland Finn. The book once again jumps between Kelsea and Katie without a lot of warning at times, leaving readers confused before they can find footing again with whose life they’re following. After a time, the Evelyn is forced to ask Kelsea for help, and the pair barely escape the children of Ro Finn who have come to claim what’s his. With a harrowing escape, the pair end up making for the desert where Evelyn intends to hide from the devil she sold her soul to remain young and beautiful and immortal.

During this entire arch, we’re shown what happens to Andalie’s eldest daughter Aysha who decided to pursue the Caden in the Gut. She helps to bring many of the children who have been held there and abused sexually to the surface. While on a mission she encounters Father Tyler (who has been missing for several months since escaping the Arvath) and has to choose between her loyalty to the Caden or to the Queen. Eventually her loyalty to Kelsea wins out and she abandons the Caden to help Father Tyler escape the caverns below the Gut and return to the palace.

Things speed up quickly, leaving the book feeling rushed in some places and drawn out in others. Perhaps the most frustrating part of the book was Katie’s slower sections intermingled with the faster pace of the world of Kelsea. It’s also revealed that Elyssa Raleigh isn’t actually dead, instead she lives in a remote Villa working as the most demanded seamstress in all of the Tear. Still vain and pretentious, Elyssa admits that she did miss Kelsea a little, since she was a “quiet baby” and that Mace and Carroll had helped her fake her death and escape. She also reveals who Kelsea’s father is, which does leave a bit of a sore spot for Kelsea and readers alike.

Though Kelsea does eventually save the kingdom at the cost of changing events in time, I was left with a sense of dissatisfaction regarding the book’s ending. By changing how Katie Rice’s encounter with Roland Finn goes, Kelsea undoes all of the history that she knew and ends up changing the Tearling into a different place. Gone are the monarchy, Mortmense, and other remnants of her life as the tearling Queen. Instead there’s a democracy with libraries and shops and more modern but humble abodes. In this new life, Kelsea has trouble adjusting since she can remember how things were and realizing that while people she knew are alive, they don’t remember her.

I’ll admit that I was disappointed with the ending of this book, with Kelsea’s final thought being that if Carlin Glynn could change then perhaps she could adapt. It simply felt like a huge let down after the building and building of something grand happening in the book. I think also my experience was marred a bit by the fact that the narrator was yet again a different person than the first two. Her voices, while nice, were a bit nasally and often a bit high pitched when going into male roles.

Overall, while I enjoyed the series as a whole, I long for a different ending that didn’t quite feel as disconnected as the one readers received.

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