Book Review – The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

The Queen of the Tearling Cover

The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling #1)

Author: Erika Johansen

Publication: July 8th, 2014

Publisher: Harper Collins

Format: Kindle Edition, 643 pages

Genre: Adult, High Fantasy, Dystopian

Read: November 2015


Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Magic, adventure, mystery, and romance combine in this epic debut in which a young princess must reclaim her dead mother’s throne, learn to be a ruler—and defeat the Red Queen, a powerful and malevolent sorceress determined to destroy her.
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.

Plot – 4 out of 5 stars
Unfortunately I have to say that it was slightly predictable, but it was still entertaining and exciting. There was a good deal of mystery and action. The story pulled me in and took me for a ride. The only other complain I have is that there’s not enough world building to really understand what the story is about and its history.
Writing Style – 4 out of 5 stars
It’s great! Intricate and dark. It’s detailed and descriptive. It has the tendency to be a bit wordy and verbose but it’s an asset when it comes to the different POV changes. They were a few of them, some actually unexpected, but it worked very well with the story.
Characters – 4.5 out of 5 stars
I’m primarily going to mention our main character Kelsea, because although there are a few POVs and a lot of things going on, she’s what our focused is supposed to be on. And I adored her. She’s strong and fierce and determined. But at the same time, she knows even though she’s been preparing to be queen her entire life, there’s a lot of things she doesn’t know about her kingdom and her history. She’s unsure about that and vulnerable and a little bit lost. But it doesn’t take away from her intelligence and her cunning ability to get things fixed. She felt genuine and real and it was awesome. Also, there’s a lot of side characters, more than I thought so in the beginning. There were all important and necessary and I am dying to see what kind of development they’ll have in the story.


This was a very solid start to a new High Fantasy series.

The plot is intricate. At first, it seems like it’s just about a young girl who is learning how to become queen of her country. But it’s so much more than that. There are so many parts, from the past and the present, that connect together into what we’re reading and we only know a quarter of what’s going on. What we learn in this book revolves around Kelsea and how she finally gets her chance to be on the throne. She takes that job by the horns and right off the bat makes some serious changes to her kingdom. But there’s also so much more to learn! We get a glimpse of this infamous Red Queen and her weird personality and country. But there’s something extra peculiar about her and how she feels about Kelsea. Then we have the Regent, Kelsea’s uncle, who has a lot of emotional baggage and weird sense of entitlement. We are introduced to the Fetch, an enigma I still can’t put my finger on. And every single man on the Queen’s Guard, specially the Mace, has a personal story to tell.

Something that I just recently learned (as I am writing this review) is that this is an adult book, and not young adult. Which, now that I think about it, makes a lot more sense. This is very very dark and gruesome. There’s a lot of descriptions that border on grizzly and disturbing, which while I think young adults can take it, might make a few people queasy and not at all happy with the book. I think it made sense to the plot and the world they live in and I wasn’t at all bothered by it.

Kelsea to me is the perfect high fantasy main character. She’s fierce and determined to do what she feels is right for her people. To keep them from slavery and servitude. To give them the tools to think for themselves and to survive and live well on their own. But at the same time, she’s scared and she feels vulnerable because she’s only nineteen and she has so much responsibility on her shoulders. And worst of all, she’s clueless about a lot of things that are important. Things like what her mother’s reign was like, how the Red Queen came into power, etc. It’s amazing that she managed to handle all that she did with so many disadvantages. Also, something great about this series: there’s no romance in this first book. Kelsea gets a crush on an older man, which is not surprising considering: 1. she’s a teenager and 2. she’s spent her whole life in isolation. But there’s no real development of that. It’s more about her personal development into her new life which is great.

Lastly, I just want to briefly mention the side characters that are more than just that, they all have important parts to play. The Mace is amazing. He is such a complex and intriguing individual that you can’t tell if you can really trust or not, not even in the end. Red Queen is one of the creepiest villains I’ve ever read about to be honest. There’s just something about her that is incredibly off, and it has nothing to do with her not aging. Thorn is going to be a thorn in my side I just know it. One of those guys who knows he’s the bad guy, doesn’t care and is going to do everything in his power to keep it that way. All of the extra POVs were so interesting, specially since there was no real pattern to their appearance but they all made sense with the timeline and what was going on. Great job on Ms. Johansen’s part.

So that’s it for this review! Let me know if you’ve read this book and what you thought. Thanks for reading and I’ll see you on my next post!

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6 thoughts on “Book Review – The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

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