11 May 2015

Review: The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

Title: The Queen of the Tearling
Author: Erika Johansen
Published: July 8th 2014
Source: Paperback
Pages: 630
Series: The Queen of the Tearling #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 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.

Despite her royal blood, Kelsea feels like nothing so much as an insecure girl, a child called upon to lead a people and a kingdom about which she knows almost nothing. But what she discovers in the capital will change everything, confronting her with horrors she never imagined. An act of singular daring will throw Kelsea’s kingdom into tumult, unleashing the vengeance of the tyrannical ruler of neighboring Mortmesne: the Red Queen, a sorceress possessed of the darkest magic. Now Kelsea will begin to discover whom among the servants, aristocracy, and her own guard she can trust.

But the quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun—a wondrous journey of self-discovery and a trial by fire that will make her a legend…if she can survive.


I was so skeptical when I started reading this book because of all the mixed reviews but Emma Watson's approval of this book helped me push through. :P

The writing style is very simplistic and because of the large fonts that I was reading it in, sometimes it felt like I was reading a YA but a curse word or gross bloody description would jump out and I am reminded that it is an adult book again. I loved the writing style because it was so easy to digest and despite the length of the book, I did not find it draggy at all and this was all thanks to the great writing! And yes there is a decent amount of rape and slavery in The Queen of the Tearling but it is not a huge part of the book. Some people seem to have a huge problem with it so I thought I should mention it.

World building is seriously lacking in this one, especially in terms of the history of The Crossing. Only two countries crossed the sea? What happened to the rest? (p.s. there are more than two countries in the world.) Apparently there are only white and the occasional black people left. And the way white people looked at the rare black people in this book sounded like they were zoo animals. White supremacy anyone? What really helped me get through this huge problem with world building was telling myself that this is fantasy instead of dystopian. As a dystopian, this gets a big fat F.

I did not like Kelsea at all. Her attitude towards everything was honestly annoying. Her ego inflates like crazy as the book goes on. She was extremely judgemental and looked down on everyone; mocking their religion, decisions, looks etc. It is rather shocking and out of character imo. I am not sure if this was the intended characterisation but I highly doubt so. I think that readers are supposed to like her as she is the 'hero' that saves the kingdom. However,  I can't deny that she has an incredible character arc and you really see her grow in front of your eyes as the book progresses. Ironically, I still did not like her as she became a stronger female character. Her 'strength' was a little extreme. I get that she is supposed to be a strong female character and she is a queen so she has to be firm but it felt like she changed too much in her growth process and she seems more like an anti-hero now.

The other characters were amazing! I found myself wanting to know more about every single character, especially the Red Queen and Mace. If you are looking for a novel with great characters then you should check this out!

Also, there was no romance! Crushes? Yes, but no lurveee. Love the slow burn of the hinted romance.

The plot is not the most original and is actually reminiscent of the Falling Kingdoms series but it had sufficient twists and the pacing was on point! This book is very plot-driven and may not be everyone's cup of tea.


This book was a weird one for me. On one hand, I hated so many things about it but at the same time I liked so many things about it. The world building was just puzzling and I wished that more effort was put into it. I have the same issue with the magic system as well. I am curious to see how Kelsea continues to grow in the next book and I hope she stops saying idiotic things. The story and pacing is amazing and it really helped me to overlook all the other major problems of the book. The key to enjoying this is to honestly just let yourself get suck into the story and you will start to ignore the annoying bits about the book.

Also, I personally feel that this is the kind of book where you have to read at least 60% of it before you decide to DNF it. The story just gets so so so good!

Tips to enjoy this book:
1) Keep your expectations low. This is NOT GoT and this reads more like a YA than adult.
2) Kelsea (the main character) says stupid things once in awhile, chalk it down to her immaturity. 
3) Do not read this as a dystopian, it is easier to suspend your beliefs if you read this as a fantasy.

The sequel: The Invasion of the Tearling is coming out next month so now would be a good time to check this book out! :)

Great book for fantasy lovers and anyone looking for a really strong female character. (I think this was why Emma Watson loved the book and agreed to be in the movie.) 

Plot: 4/5 
Pacing: 4/5
Originality: 3.5/5 
Writing style: 4/5
Characters: 3/5 
Feels: 4/5
Enjoyment: 4.5/5
Cover: 5/5
Overall rating: 

1 comment:

  1. I thought you were going to give it a much lower score, based on parts of your review. I'm glad you ended up liking it well enough though! :) I love this book. I don't agree on Kelsea being annoying, but I do think there could be some more explanation about the world. I hope this is expanded on in the next book.

    Vicarious Caytastrophe