Review: The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

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The Queen of the Tearling
Erika Johansen
New York: Harper Collins, 2015
Paperback, 447 pages

Rating: 4.9 out of 5

Synopsis:

With the arrival of her nineteenth birthday, Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn is ascending to her rightful place as the new Queen of the Tearling. Surrounded by enemies, including an evil sorceress possessed of dark magic, the young ruler stands little chance of success. But Kelsea possesses fearsome weapons of her own, including the Tear sapphire, a jewel of immense power and magic. As an epic war draws near, Kelsea’s quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny begins – a wondrous journey of self-discovery and a trial by fire that will make her a legend… if she can survive.

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Review:

I’ve got a system of how I choose the books I buy now in order to budget properly. But this book managed to escape my system and still make it to my online shopping cart. I have a weakness for Chapters Indigo promotions – this was purchased as one of two teen books for $20. I read the synopsis – thought it sounded interesting – and then read a few reviews on Goodreads – that seemed to be positive with a few negative comments. And decided to take the chance – and boy, that was a great decision!

From the start, I was pulled in by all the mystery and uncertainty of the heroine’s past. The plot was very compelling. And I found myself asking new questions the entire time, reading on, because I was desperate to know what Kelsea would discover next.

My questions as I read the novel…

What was her mother like? Who is the Fetch? Who stabbed Kelsea? Who is the betrayer? Where are Carlin and Barty? Who or what is the dark thing? What is Javel’s role in all this?  What’s Mace/Lazarus’ past? What’s the Red Queen going to do?

And usually, this frustrates me. Having more questions than answers. But in this case, it was the type of frustration I liked because the plot was complicated, intriguing, and I couldn’t keep away from it for too long.

What surprised me, in a good way, was the lack of a love story here. Many of these teen fantasy/adventure fiction with a heroine usually brings in a love interest. And while there is the briefest and occasional pull between Kaelie and the Fetch, he doesn’t even make much of an appearance in this novel. And we get to see Kaelie’s growth as a girl who knew nothing to a Queen who deals with the new information as it comes. I do foresee – and would also not mind – Kaelie’s growth as a woman. She needs a little romance in her life – she’s only 19 years old.

Even a book can be dangerous in the wrong hands, and when that happens, you blame the hands, but you also read the book. – The Queen of the Tearling

The Queen of the Tearling is definitely one of the better reads I’ve done in awhile. Kaelie is a combination of Katniss’s anger and passion, and Hermione’s brains and magic ability. And for all book lovers, you’ll make a connection with Kaelie because she’s got a love for books too.

Was The Queen of the Tearling perfect? No. My 0.1 dock off the rating is personal. This might be a strange book peeve: I don’t like it when a chapter is too long. I think that this is because I usually like to take breaks between reading at chapter breaks – especially before bed. And sometimes I’ll start a chapter and then realize that I’m way too sleepy to finish the chapter and the break within the chapter is awkward. My last night reading this book went to almost 2am because I wanted to finish the chapter and ended up finishing the entire novel.

Everyone dies eventually. I think it’s better to die clean. – The Queen of the Tearling

I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy. This is one of the reasons why I don’t mind picking up a series after it’s been out for awhile – I can read them together at a time, rather than waiting tortuously for the next book to be released. But of course, there’s an excitement of waiting for a sequel that has its own merits – which I’ll have to wait until November for the final book in the installation.

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<SPOILER ALERT>

It’s not really a spoiler. But it could ruin the surprise and joy that I felt when I read it.

It was just a brief mention in passing in the novel but I loved that Harry Potter was briefly alluded to as “the seven volumes of Rowling” which appear in Kelsea’s library. And of course, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

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