Series: The Queen of the Tearling #2
Published by Transworld Publishers Limited on July 16th 2015
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 neighbouring 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. In this dazzling sequel to her bestselling debut The Queen of the Tearling, Erika Johansen brings back favourite characters, including the Mace and the Red Queen, and introduces unforgettable new players, adding exciting layers to her multidimensional tale of magic, mystery and a fierce young heroine.
I liked The Queen of the Tearling, but I wasn’t wowed by it – I was frustrated by the staggering amount of questions left unanswered, and I felt the world-building was a little lacking. The Invasion of the Tearling has a rather different feel, and I think I preferred it.
In The Invasion of the Tearling, we not only see Queen Kelsea trying to cope with the Mort invasion, but also Lily, a pre-Crossing woman who provides some insight into just what life was like. The alternating point of views could have felt jarring, particularly since one set of chapters feels like fantasy and the other like dystopia, but somehow that really worked. The changing storylines weren’t enough to jolt me out of the story, they were just enough to keep me curious and build my need to know just how the Crossing worked. In general, the plot had me absolutely hooked, and I really enjoyed the novelty of switching time periods – the women were developed enough, and the setting different enough, that I never doubted where I was in time.
There are some parts of the book that make for uncomfortable reading – rape, abuse, self-harm – which were unexpected but which I felt were mostly plot-relevant. [Very slight spoiler] Kelsea’s appearance also changes throughout the book, and I did question that – she loses weight and becomes more attractive, and the reasoning behind it was too loose for me; it almost felt like the author had decided the heroine needed to be pretty and was trying to make an excuse to change the way she’d looked until now [End slight spoiler!]
There are definitely still some unanswered questions, and the ending felt a bit anti-climactic after such intense build-up, but I was definitely more satisfied with this book than the first. I think because it felt less like classic fantasy, and because of the dystopian-esque chapters, the world-building didn’t bother me as much, and I was glad to finally have some answers regarding the Crossing. Unfortunately the characters were a disappointment. The characters I really cared about were Father Tyler, Pen, and Ewen; the majority of the main characters didn’t make much of an impact, and for me, that limits this to a three-star.
Buy it? This is one I’d pick up on a deal, but I wouldn’t rush out for.
In a nutshell: An addictive plot and a unique feel, but let down a little by the characters for me.