Sunday, July 13, 2014

Blog Tour Review: The Queen of the Tearling

The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling, #1)Author: Erika Johansen
Series: The Queen of the Tearling, #1
Published: July 8th 2014
Publisher: Harper
Format: Hardcover, 448 pgs
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Amazon

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.
The Queen of the Tearling introduces readers to a world as fully imagined and terrifying as that of The Hunger Games, with characters as vivid and intriguing as those of The Game of Thrones, and a wholly original heroine. Combining thrilling action and twisting plot turns, it is a magnificent debut from the talented Erika Johansen.
There’s something to be said about books that take you completely by surprise, grab you with their first few words sometime late in the evening and refuse to let go until the very last page, when you, bleary-eyed but elated, finally go to sleep already thinking about the next installment. The Queen of the Tearling came to me in a month when I had little time and even less patience for fiction, and yet it held my attention from start to finish, leaving me thrilled and completely breathless in the end.

The pacing was a bit slower than expected, but I for one thoroughly enjoy a worldbuilding well thought-out, even when there were things I wished were done differently. Queen of the Tearling is high fantasy with roots in modern society, which makes it unique but also a bit confusing. It’s an interesting blend of old customs and new technology that sometimes worked and sometimes bothered me greatly. I would have preferred a simple historical fantasy, or even some straightforward futuristic world, but this blend of the two didn’t always sit well with me.

Johansen took her time with Kelsea and her closest companions, giving them layer upon layer of complex personality, but at the same time she completely neglected her villain, Kelsea’s uncle, who was almost cartoonish in his heartless stupidity. Truth be told, a villain can make or break a book, but in this case, with everything I admired about Queen of the Tearling, I found that I didn’t mind this fault too much.

I did feel that Kelsea’s physical appearance was somewhat exaggerated in the attempt to give more weight to her inner strength. Something similar was initially done to Elisa in The Girl of Fire and Thorns but to an even larger extent. Kelsea constantly struggles with her looks and her weight, which I suppose adds a layer to her character and makes her seem more human, but it’s something I could have certainly done without. A girl can be smart and brave and resourceful and be quite ordinary on the outside, not too pretty and certainly not quite so unattractive. And it wasn’t just Kelsea’s distorted self-image we were dealing with; other people never hesitated to tell her that she looks nothing like a queen.

Queen of the Tearling has no more than a hint of romance, a stray thought here and there, an occasional yearning for someone completely out of reach. As a romance girl through and through, I would normally be very bothered by this, but this fabulous story, well plotted and nearly flawlessly executed, left no room for wishes and regrets.

This is a story I’m quite eager to continue. Even with a few faults that I’m sure will be fixed later on, it’s the best fantasy I’ve read in a good long while. The second book hasn’t even been properly announced and I’m already impatient to get my greedy little hands on it.

A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.


  1. Maja! Welcome back :)

    I've been reading a lot of reviews of this one and it looks like this is a polarizing book because people are either loving it or hating it. I'm glad that you loved it though! I don't mind slow pace as long as there's a good reason for it such as the thorough world building. I will definitely be picking this one up!

    Lovely review, Maja! <33

  2. I'm so excited to get to this book. I saw it at Costco yesterday, of all places, which means it's going to be very popular (most likely because of the movie version coming out). Awesome review!

  3. I missed this one! I'm so glad I visited and saw your review of this one b/c I'm kind of on a fantasy kick right now.

    I'm glad you mentioned the wee bit of romance and put it in the context of your LOVE of romance but that it didn't bother you - the story more than distracted you it sounds like. That completely sets up my expectations - thanks!!

    Adding to my TBR and going on the hunt :)

    BTW - saw on Kimba's page that you're working on your dissertation. From your wording it sounds like you're DONE?!?!?! YAY?????!!!! Congrats?!!?!?!? :)

  4. Oh it sounds really good! I was wondering about this one but as I'm quite difficult with fantasy I was anxious, it seems like I made a mistake because if you had such a great time it could be the same for me. thanks for the review!

  5. This really sounds good. I have been seeing this book around a lot these days and some very differing review about it too. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

    Aparajita @ Le' Grande Codex

  6. Aaaand she is back with a bang. Wow, this sounds completely fantastic. You have me curious about the blending of worlds. It has been a while since I have tackled a high fantasy, but the world building alone has me drooling. Added to my list!

  7. I totally agree that this one is polarizing. I didn't much care for it but I feel like I'm in the minority. I had the highest hopes for it but I had some issues that I couldn't get over. I'm so glad you enjoyed it though. I do think it'll be good in film version and I'll be curious to see what everyone things of the second book. great review!

  8. Maja, I've been dying to pick this book up! I've heard a lot of mixed things, but it looks like you enjoyed it overall. There does seem to be quite a few flaws, however, they seem minor enough to be ignored/remedied in the following installments! I've never read about a main character who is so insecure about herself, so I'm interested to see how that'll play out since she is the queen. I'm a little bummed to hear that the villain isn't the best villain, but you didn't seem to mind, so we'll see! I'm definitely interested in reading this one for myself. Thanks for the wonderful review, Maja!

  9. Well, Maja, this is an awesome review
    This is by far the first review I hear of this book and the first time I hear about the author.
    Though, this looks like the kind of book I would really enjoy.
    GREAT review (again!)
    Your reader

  10. Good to see you, Maja! I had missed you around the blogosphere!!
    I've read so many different reviews for this one! Some very positive like yours and some very negative... So I feel like this will be one of those books I'll have to read for myself and see what side I end up in!
    Thankfully I'm really in a fantasy kick, so I think it's the right time to read it!

  11. Great review! I loved this one too. Very excited for the sequel.

    Cat @ Addicted 2 Heroines

  12. Yeah, there were a couple of things that bothered (the focus on her weight, and I wanted a bit more worldbuilding--WHY did they have to do this Crossing? How?) but the story as a whole was fascinating! I loved it and really can't wait until the next one.

  13. How have I not heard of this one yet, it sounds fabulous!
    Wonderful review Maja, I am so glad you enjoyed this as much as you did. :)

  14. I think I would like this more if it was historical fantasy because the modern stuff thrown in to stories like this always messes with my head.
    I'm really glad you mostly loved this one though because I read a more negative review and was thinking it might not be for me. Now I'm not sure. This might be worth me picking up at the library at least. I do love the cover too!

  15. I think there were rumors that this series is already being optioned for a film deal with Emma Watson meant to play the heroine, so that's a LOT of weight for a new series to carry on. I'm curious to see how the series plays out more than any film adaptations and I'm glad that, despite a few issues, this novel really shined. Loving intricate world-building myself, I definitely can't wait to get my hands on this.

  16. I liked that Kelsea was described as 'plain' or even 'unattractive', but at the same time I didn't like the huge focus on looks. I loved how there was no romance, it wasn't needed at this time :) the world-building was a little confusing, but I can't wait to see more of this world!

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