Author: Erika Johansen
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publish Date: July 8, 2014
Source: TLC Book Tours and HarperCollins
What's the Story?:
From Goodreads.com: "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."
My Two Cents:
"The Queen of the Tearling" is the story of Kelsea, a 19 year old girl that grew up relatively sheltered away from the kingdom that she is now inheriting from her mother. She knows little of what she will face as she takes the crown and puts her life in danger in this brand new world. This is one of those series that I have been waiting to get around to and after reading this first book, I can't believe it took me so long to get to it.
This is the first book in a trilogy and it was a great kickoff. The author does a good job of setting the stage for what Kelsea will face in future books. This book introduces us to the plight of the Tearling and what their enemies are willing to do in order to take their land. We get insight into where the issues really began, which I enjoyed.
Kelsea is incredibly naive when the book opens. She almost seemed younger than 19 when the book first opens. Her childhood seemed relatively coddled and comfortable. We get to see as she figures out that the real world is much different than her life with her caretakers Carlin and Barty who sheltered her from a lot of the bad things that she would eventually face as the Queen of the Tearling. She is on her own to figure out who she can actually trust. Those that work for her may have ulterior motives and she is not sure who to trust. Throughout this book, she begins to build more confidence and understanding about the level that she must rise to. I loved reading about this transition and am excited to see her growth throughout this series.
I was also fascinated by the Red Queen. She is sort of a shadowy figure in this book and her magic is incredibly dark. Some of the scenes with her were some of the most vividly described scenes of the book. She is definitely creepy and seems to have a much better understanding of her power that Kelsea has of her own power. I am anxious to see how this plays out in the later books.
Fantasy books are a little bit of a mixed bag for me. I need there to be good world building in it and luckily in this book, there is definitely that. Kelsea's world is a bit of a combination of different things. It feels old and is filled with magic. I loved the way that the author was able to make the magical aspects, especially those associated with the Red Queen, feel real. I did want a little more of a context as to how the world came about. With names like New London, there is definitely some sort of real-world context but the land seems made up. Hopefully more detail on the land and those that fill it will be a part of the later books in the series.
Overall, this was a really good opening to a series that I am excited to continue. This book is a good pick for you if you like fantasy and adventure stories. You will also like this book if you like good world building. I really enjoyed this first book and am excited to see where the other books go!