The Invasion of The Tearling (Erika Johansen)

The Invasion of The Tearling (Erika Johansen)Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
Series: The Queen of the Tearling #2
Published by Transworld Publishers Limited on July 16th 2015
Pages: 380
Format: ARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon
Goodreads

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.

Plot: ★★★
Characters:
★★★
Readability:
★★★★

 

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!]

 

final thoughts

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.

Other Reviews of The Invasion of the Tearling: What Kara Reads | Tynga’s reviews  | The Quiet Concert

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The Queen of The Tearling (Erika Johansen)

The Queen of The Tearling (Erika Johansen)The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
Series: The Queen of the Tearling #1
Published by Harper Collins on 17-07-2014
Genres: Coming of Age, Fantasy, Fiction, General
Pages: 448
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Amazon
Goodreads

Her throne awaits . . . if she can live long enough to take it.

It was on her nineteenth birthday that the soldiers came for Kelsea Glynn. They’d come to escort her back to the place of her birth – and to ensure she survives long enough to be able to take possession of what is rightfully hers.

But like many nineteen-year-olds, Kelsea is unruly, has high principles and believes she knows better than her elders. Unlike many nineteen-year-olds, she is about to inherit a kingdom that is on its knees – corrupt, debauched and dangerous.

Kelsea will either become the most fearsome ruler the kingdom has ever known . . . or be dead within the week.

Plot: ★★★★
Characters: ★★★
Readability: ★★★

 

The storyThe Queen of the Tearling is a book I heard absolutely loads about before I actually read it, and I think that did the book a disservice.  The problem is that so many of the reviews I was reading kept calling The Queen of the Tearling a YA Game of Thrones. Which, frankly, it’s not.  That’s absolutely not to say I disliked the book, just that it’s not at all what I was expecting.

For one thing, I wouldn’t call The Queen of The Tearling necessarily a YA read – it has a YA feel to it, but it also has some dark elements that would definitely put me off giving it to my teenage sister.  I actually really enjoyed the darker tone, because it’s refreshing and unusual, and stopped the story feeling too young, which would have been a definite possibility otherwise from my point of view.

For another, A Game of Thrones is a straight up fantasy series, while The Queen of The Tearling doesn’t fit so nicely into genre boxes!  The Queen of The Tearling is a complex blend of multiple genres, which is probably the most unusual and intriguing element of the plot and I’m really interested to see where it leads.

The characters

Kelsea, our 19 year old somewhat sheltered protaganist is a great heroine.  She’s definitely not perfect; she can be naive, she’s very concerned with appearance and she’s occasionally annoying, but that makes her all the more relatable.  She’s fiery and feisty and determined, which are all traits I absolutely loved about her.  Above all, Kelsea wants to do what’s best for her kingdom and her people, and although she doesn’t always know the best way to do that, she’s razor sharp, logical and prepared to do whatever she must.  She’s definitely got the potential to be a fantastic ruler.

There’s not a lot in the way of romance which is refreshing, but there’s some thick foundations laid for a love triangle, which isn’t.  I didn’t find either of the love interests for that triangle of particular interest, but I felt Kelsea’s thoughts/feelings/slight mental obsession for one grew too fast, so obviously I’m leaning towards the other interest!

I thought the royal guard needed some serious work; as a group they’re largely incompetent and that’s something that didn’t really work for me.  Having said that, I really liked some of the individual members of the guard, so maybe they can redeem themselves later on in the series.

final thoughtsThe Queen of The Tearling is an interesting genre-bending story of a young girl fighting for her kingdom and ruling as best she can.  There’s a lot of questions left unanswered, and from my point of view I’d have liked to see more of the world building.  Perhaps I’m just a bit of a fantasy snob, but the world building was too vague for me, unable to compare with the rich, complex worlds I associate with fantasy, like those of George R.R. Martin, Robin Hobb or Sarah J. Maas. Although I can understand why the first book hasn’t just dumped all of the info on us, I feel largely unattached to the world because I don’t have a clear enough vision of it. An interesting start to the series nonetheless and I’m really intrigued to find out more about the formation of the lands and cultures in the world.

Buy it? This probably isn’t one I’d buy unless I could grab it on a deal.
In a nutshell: An intriguing blend of genres, a feisty heroine and a refreshingly darker tone, but I’d have liked more answers.

Other Reviews of The Queen of The Tearling: Uncorked Thoughts | Bibliodaze | Not Yet Read

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