“Even a book can be dangerous in the wrong hands, and when that happens, you blame the hands, but you also read the book.”
– Erika Johansen, The Queen of the Tearling
The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen is one of my favourite fantasy series – ever! Leading up to its release, there was a proof copy floating around the office for weeks and all I heard for that whole time was how amazing the book was. Everyone was raving about it; there wasn’t a single negative comment to be heard. By the time I got my hands on it, I was almost frantic with excitement… but there was a small part of me that was afraid it wouldn’t live up to the crazy-high expectations I had. I really had nothing to worry about – I was completely hooked from the first page!
Since the death of her mother when she was a little girl Kelsea Raleigh has only known the quiet cottage life where she has been raised. Surrounded by books, she has been nurtured by a caring family and the knowledge and stories of her closest friends. On her nineteenth birthday, it is time for Kelsea to take ownership of the Tear throne. Completely alone but protected by her Queen’s Guard, Kelsea must face a corrupt and dangerous kingdom that has some extremely dark forces waiting to see her fail. Kelsea inherits old enemies, great burdens and a mysterious friend whose intentions are not entirely clear. She jumps head first into ruling her kingdom but her youthful yet ignorant enthusiasm could see her become a great leader… or a dead one.
There is much to like about this book. Kelsea is opinionated, strong-willed and incredibly stubborn. Her knowledge of the world comes from the stories she has read and heard and as a reader, I found her innocence quite endearing. She also has a wicked temper that she doesn’t quite have a hold of yet. Unlike many heroines, Kelsea isn’t your classic beauty; she is intelligent and resourceful and fights those who see her as just a girl. The supporting cast of characters are equally as enjoyable. Her Queen’s Guard are made up of a motley group of lads, ranging in age from late teen’s to those old enough to be Kelsea’s father. They are fierce and loyal and their camaraderie is both entertaining and comforting.
Johansen’s world building can be a little clunky at times but her creativity and thought-out history is fascinating. The reader is lead to believe that this could be a different world to the one we live in until Johansen slips in a reference to a collection of books by J.K Rowling that survive the Crossing, and the reader comes to realise this is a book set in our near future.
The Queen of the Tearling is a beautifully written and perfectly paced book that entertains the reader from cover to cover. Despite the political themes, the story line is not as complex as it chould be which gives the other aspects of the story room to shine. The characters are so well-realised that they jump from the page and the world building is enough to keep you reading, above everything else. It is a stunning read and I dread the day the series will come to an end!!