Author: Erika Johansen
Series: Queen of the Tearling
Released: June 9th 2015
Length: 480 pages
Source: Publisher for review
With each passing day, Kelsea Glynn is growing into her new responsibilities as Queen of the Tearling. By stopping the shipments of slaves to the neighboring kingdom of Mortmesne, she crossed the Red Queen, a brutal ruler whose power derives from dark magic, who is sending her fearsome army into the Tearling to take what is hers. And nothing can stop the invasion.But as the Mort army draws ever closer, Kelsea develops a mysterious connection to a time before the Crossing, and she finds herself relying on a strange and possibly dangerous ally: a woman named Lily, fighting for her life in a world where being female can feel like a crime. The fate of the Tearling —and that of Kelsea’s own soul—may rest with Lily and her story, but Kelsea may not have enough time to find out.
Most of the criticism for the first book was aimed at its weak worldbuilding. The world we were given was well-built, but the details on how it all came to be were flimsy at best. Tearling may be a fantasy world, but it’s firmly rooted in our own; however, the connection between the two was never properly explained. In The Invasion, Erika Johansen overcompensates by giving us two stories, one in Tearling, and one in a futuristic dystopian version of our own world. The entire novel jumps back and forth between the two, usually at the most inconvenient of times, successfully distancing the readers from both main characters and making the narrative seem choppy and disconnected.
In addition to the extra storyline, Kelsea herself undergoes some serious changes. In The Invasion, she turns into a despicable person, giving us only brief glimpses of that sharp intelligence I admired so much. She becomes a rash, vain girl with only one goal in mind – proving to herself and to others that she’s all grown up. To say that I dislike seeing my heroines so thoroughly and senselessly ruined simply isn’t enough. Everything else that was wrong with this book was forgivable, but the utter ruin of this character was not.
However, at the end of the day, this is a simple truth we need to face: power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. We followed a simple forest girl as she turned into a sharp and honest queen, and then into a vain and powerful creature. We haven’t actually seen her redeemed, only partly, but even when she does find her path, I fear that she’s already done some unforgivable mistakes.
Finally, The Invasion of the Tearling wasn’t what I’d hoped it would be, but it deserves some credit for its originality and creativity in worldbuilding. Johansen’s writing is fairly simplistic, but impressively clever as well. Not all is lost, the third book might bring us a once again changed Kelsea and a differently constructed narrative. Let’s hope that it does.
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.