Review: The Queen of the Tearling

◆ The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
◆ Read September 2014
◆ English Edition
◆ 
❝ Kelsea Glynn is the sole heir to the throne of Tearling but has been raised in secret by foster parents after her mother - Queen Elyssa, as vain as she was stupid - was murdered for ruining her kingdom. For 18 years, the Tearling has been ruled by Kelsea's uncle in the role of Regent however he is but the debauched puppet of the Red Queen, the sorceress-tyrant of neighbouring realm of Mortmesme. On Kelsea's 19th birthday, the tattered remnants of her mother's guard - each pledged to defend the queen to the death - arrive to bring this most un-regal young woman out of hiding...

And so begins her journey back to her kingdom's heart, to claim the throne, earn the loyalty of her people, overturn her mother's legacy and redeem the Tearling from the forces of corruption and dark magic that are threatening to destroy it. But Kelsea's story is not just about her learning the true nature of her inheritance - it's about a heroine who must learn to acknowledge and live with the realities of coming of age in all its insecurities and attractions, alongside the ethical dilemmas of ruling justly and fairly while simply trying to stay alive...
The Queen of the Tearling is a very engaging read from beginning to end. Many aspects of the book were slightly different from the average book in the fantasy genre and literally made me grin in delight. I really appreciate the choices the author made in her book and certainly hope some other authors will take note. In fact, if it weren't for one point of criticism, I would have given this book five stars.

First and foremost, the protagonist was my favorite thing about the story. I get so tired of reading about beautiful females who attract all attention, or worst yet, females who don't think they're pretty but still have several boys fighting over them. No, give me a heroine like Kelsea instead who is a bit on the chubby side and isn't even spared a sideways glance because she is extremely plain. It's much more realistic (because let's be honest, not all queens are beautiful and thin as sticks, not in the past and not now) and it allows for more focus on characterization. 


Kelsea, though unsure about her new role as queen, made all of her decisions as regent to protect others and was not easily swayed by intimidating individuals. She stuck to the decisions but was not afraid to seek advice when she needed it. Nor did she ever show self-pity for her position and her privilege This aspect of her personality made her into a very humane and like able protagonist. Bonus poins, she went through some character development, what else could you desire from a character?


What surprised me most about The Queen of the Tearling was perhaps the complete lack of a love story or even a love interest for the heroine. It's not something I come across in books nowadays, and boy, did it make me happy while reading. Don't get me wrong, I adore love stories and I'm a true shipper, but often the romantic aspect of a story demands all focus and takes away any other interesting subplots. So yes, I was glad that there was absolutely zero focus on a love story, but all the more attention for the other kinds of relationships human beings can have: family, friends and respect among employer and employees (so to speak, I'm not sure how else to qualify the Queen's Guard). This was equally as interesting and I reckon that there's plenty of room in future novels to establish a real romantic interest, if ever at all. 


I got invested in the stories of other characters, such as Mace, The Fetch, Pen, Marguerite and even the Red Queen, and the plot as well. The author did not shy away from sensitive topics such as rape, slavery and abuse, which I find a good thing because it's realistic and almost always relevant. My only issue with this book is The Crossing from a modern world like ours to a complete wasteland, The Tear. It wasn't realistic to me. Any modern society like ours would be much too dependent on technology and luxury to abandon it all and sail to an unknown destination with only books, little food, no drugs and only two doctors. For no apparent reason, might I add. Anything my education has taught me about our society made me skeptic about this subplot and it is the only thing I disliked about the book.


Apart from that one issue though The Queen of the Tearling is a really interesting book with an amazing main character. I'm not really sure how I feel about a movie adaption, but I know for sure that I will be counting down the days until the second book in the series comes out!


4 stars because:
✓ Realistic, likeable heroine
✓No love story
✓Incorporates taboo topics.

✓Practically all characters are interesting
✗The Crossing makes no senss
 

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