19 September, 2017

[Review] The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

Series: Queen of the Tearling #2
Release Date: 9 June, 2015
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Genre: Young Adult/Epic Fantasy/Dystopian
ISBN:  9780062290397
Edition: Audiobook
Review Written: 31 August, 2017 
Summary: With each passing day, Kelsea Glynn is growing into her new responsibilities as Queen of the Tearling. By stopping the shipments of slaves to the neighboring kingdom of Mortmesne, she crossed the Red Queen, a brutal ruler whose power derives from dark magic, who is sending her fearsome army into the Tearling to take what is hers. And nothing can stop the invasion.

But as the Mort army draws ever closer, Kelsea develops a mysterious connection to a time before the Crossing, and she finds herself relying on a strange and possibly dangerous ally: a woman named Lily, fighting for her life in a world where being female can feel like a crime. The fate of the Tearling —and that of Kelsea’s own soul—may rest with Lily and her story, but Kelsea may not have enough time to find out.

In this dazzling sequel, Erika Johansen brings back favorite characters, including the Mace and the Red Queen, and introduces unforgettable new players, adding exciting layers to her multidimensional tale of magic, mystery, and a fierce young heroine. 

For more information, please check out the HarperCollins website.

Following where The Queen of the Tearling left off, Kelsea Glynn’s kingdom is preparing for the impending battle with Mortmesne. Though she’s grown in her position as Queen, Kelsea still struggles with her personal vendetta against her mother’s legacy. Also in the mix are trances that tend to leave Kelsea acting on auto-pilot while her mind seemingly travels to the past during the time before the Crossing with a woman named Lily Mayhew. This book jumps a fair bit more between character viewpoints with little to no separation between characters. Given that Kelsea and Lily are meant to blend together, it wasn’t too terrible however it was a bit unsettling the first couple of times the narrative skipped. 

Kelsea also struggles with a new found attraction to her close guard Pen. The pair have become something akin to “friends with benefits” though for all of Kelsea’s insistence that they’re not doing anything everyone in the guard seems to know. Following a shorter timeline than the first book, the kingdom is shown in it’s quick succession to shore up its defenses with the small army it has and evacuating the farmlands of anyone who would like to retreat from being close to the Mort border. This book also focuses more on the power struggle between the Church and State ideals. The Church is angry about the end of their tax exemption, trying to weasel their way out of it in every turn. When it proves that Kelsea can’t be bought through coercion or threats, the Holy Father (who is very much like a very corrupted Pope-like figure) threatens the priest who serves the Keep to poison her. 

Father Tyler, the Keep Priest who was briefly introduced in The Queen of the Tearling, has grown fond of Queen Kelsea and spends a large portion of the book fighting with himself on whether he should follow the orders of a corrupt leader of the Church or taking a stand. The book truly captures the fear and uncertainty one can have when having a moral struggle internally. Morality eventually wins out and Tyler makes perhaps one of the boldest moves of his entire story arch, lying to the Holy Father and escaping the Arvarth with the Crown of Roland Finn, the being in the Fire that we were introduced to in the first book. 

At times the book was a bit slow and slogged down by the extra bits of worldbuilding and perhaps a few extra characters who shouldn’t have had their own points of view. Lily’s story also was rather tiring at times, her indignant and willful ignorance was hard to stomach at times. The changing of narrators also was very jarring. Though she does a good job, Davina Porter’s performance was a bit less exciting to listen to than Katherine Kellgren. I understand that sometimes circumstances prevent people from reprising their roles, however with audiobook series, it feels a lot less jarring when they have the same person narrate the series. 

All in all, I enjoyed the second book in the Tearling series and was grateful I could simply continue into the third and final book, The Fate of the Tearling.

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