– The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen US release hardcover edition –
– UK and Australian hardcover edition –
The Queen of the Tearling is a book that I have been hearing about for some time. Now, newly released from Harpercollins, the book is currently available to purchase. I myself acquired an ARC last December but I finally read it last week. I do have a good explanation for why this took me so long – I tried to read it three times before the book finally stuck. So, keep that in mind if the beginning is slow for you, because it was very slow for me.
That said, I picked it up last week and finally got past page thirty. So, that’s saying something.
Kelsea Glynn is the heir to the throne of the Tearling, a small country near Mortmesne post-crossing. She has been hidden for nineteen years while her uncle has held the throne as Regent but the time has come for her to assume her birthright. Now, on a journey with a group of bodyguards, she is attacked by a group of assassins, the Caden, only to be saved and spirited away by a man called the Fetch, whom intrigues Kelsea. Because of his help she is able to return to the Keep where a series of events informs her about her Uncle’s regency. Dubious agreements between him and the Red Queen of Mortmesne alert Kelsea that she must step up as Queen, and soon.
Through it all there are several attempts on her life. She suspects a few responsible parties but has no proof other than her own intuition. One thing is for certain and that is that Kelsea is caught up in a dangerous game; a game that pits her against the strongest and most brilliant schemers of her time.
There were things I did not like about the book. However, it kept my attention and I never resorted to skim reading, which I consider to be good since it took me three times to get into it. One thing is that it’s very slow-paced and very densely written. This lends itself to marvelous character development but does take a while. The main characters have plenty of depth…and yet there were things about Kelsea that annoyed me. Greatly. She is nineteen and very unsure of herself, but she has been trained to be a queen and should have no problems on that end. And still she questions her every decision, undermines her own impulse, and feels uncomfortable in her own skin. Johansen constantly punctuates her self-esteem issues with lip-biting, cheek-biting, downcast eyes, and uncertainty that grates on the reader. She’s a bit Young Adult in an adult book and it is nerve-wracking.
But the things that are good far outweigh the bad. The story itself is straight-forward despite taking many diversions to get there. There were multiple times that Johansen surprised me both with character dimensions and dark plot twists. The scope of the novel is impressive and I appreciated this book very much. It’s imperfect, but it’s a good start. I’m curious to see what she grows in the next book, both Johansen and Kelsea.
That said, would I read the next one? At this time I am ambivalent about it. I don’t think I could get into the book after a sizable gap, and I am reluctant to read this a second time. Maybe curiosity will win out, maybe this is one of those books that will grow with me in a year’s time? Who knows?
4 out of 5 stars.
– Follow the Reader –