There’s a new Katniss in town!

Picture of Queen of the Tearling


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So for my first post, I’ve chosen to review a book I recently read called The Queen of The Tearling. This is the debut novel by attorney turned author Erika Johansen. Following a cataclysmic event know as the Crossing that saw the collapse of civilization as we know it, humans reverted to a feudal society on a mysterious landmass known as the Tearling. In the 24th century, Kelsea Rayleigh Glynn is raised in hiding for her own protection in a cottage deep in the woods by foster parents, Barty and Carlin.

On her 19th birthday, Kelsea comes of age, and accompanied by her deceased mothers guard, she must leave everything she has ever known behind and travel to the royal Keep to claim her birthright, the Tearling throne. Though prepared for this somewhat by her foster parents, there is much that Kelsea has still to learn. She must rely on her own initiative and the power of the mysterious Tear sapphire she wears around her neck to guide her in claiming a country marred by corruption and greed.

But danger lurks around every corner, as Kelseas power-hungry uncle has been acting as regent in her absence, and unwilling to give up the throne, he has placed a bounty on her head. Not only that, but King Thomas has also formed a deadly alliance with the Red Queen of a neighboring nation known as Mortmesne. All live in fear of the Red Queen, an ageless tyrant powered by dark magic, who will stop at nothing to take what she wants.

Kelsea is horrified to learn on her arrival in the Keep of a monthly shipment of slaves to Mortmesne in order to keep the evil queen from invading. Outraged, her first act as queen sees her put an end to the slave treaty and rally her troops in preparation for war as a result of her defiance.

QOTT is a strong debut novel from Johansen. Kelsea is a compelling heroine, instantly likable, strong and capable of making hard but needed decisions, even if her self-doubt threatens to derail her at times, and comparisons to Katniss Everdeen will be immediately made. Allies to the Queen are equally well drawn, such as Lazarus, the Captain of the Queens Guard, a ferocious warrior with a dark past, ruthless in his mission to protect queen Kelsea. Another interesting character is that of Andalie, who becomes a loyal servant to Kelsea after she rescues her youngest child from the slave shipment. Andalie is blessed with the Sight, an ability to see the future, which is both useful and unnerving to the queen at different times. Also, there is the Fetch, an outlaw who few people have ever laid eyes on, who helps Kelsea in a time of need. Though utilized very little in this debut, the Fetch leaves an impression due to his cocksure nature and the promise of an intriguing back story to be discovered in future novels.

Of course, for there to be allies, the queen would also have to have enemies. The Red Queen, like the Fetch, is seen very little in this book, but leaves the reader wanting more of her just the same. On the surface there is a cold, calculating woman, imbued with the darkest magic and a ruthlessness that leaves her people petrified. However when you read between the lines, you see a woman putting up a front; she’s scared of Kelsea, but why? And her brief meeting with the creature known only as the Black Thing, leaves the impression that Kelsea is not the only one the Queen should fear.

Overall, the story is paced well and well written, with nice little references to our world today that make the reader almost believe they are getting a glimpse into the future. Understandably, as it’s the first in a planned trilogy, the novel leaves many plot points unexplained, such as why can’t Kelsea remove the sapphire from around her neck? Who is the Fetch and what is his significance to Kelsea? Who or What is the Black Thing, and how great are its powers?, and what led to the original Crossing hundreds of years previous? Johansen does a good job at giving just enough to whet the appetite and keep us interested in future installments.

I was first drawn to this book by an article I read in which the film had just been announced as in development, with Harry Potter star Emma Watson attached to both star and produce. It’s no secret that the young adult genre can mean big payouts. Why else would film studios be in competition with one another to secure the film rights to the latest successful series? Down through the years, Harry Potter, Twilight and The Hunger games have set the standard by selling millions of copies and going on to have hugely popular film adaptations. With The Hunger Games film series drawing to a close last November, and both the Divergent and Maze Runner series receiving a lukewarm reception by audiences, studio executives will no doubt be looking to take advantage of the gap in the market left by Katniss Everdeen. Enter Kelsea Raleigh Glynn.

Next Review: The Invasion Of The Tearling, the second book in the Tearling trilogy. Until then, Happy Reading 😉

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