Book Reviews

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

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

3 thoughts on “The Queen of The Tearling (Erika Johansen)

  1. Yeah, I’d consider myself a fantasy snob too. You do grow accustomed to a certain level a world-building and when it’s lacking, it can really ruin an otherwise promising read. I haven’t read this one myself yet, but I’ve read both positive and negative reviews for it. I still want to check it out because the MC sounds brilliant and since it’s the first book, there’s always room for improvement in later books BUT. I know I won’t go in expecting too much – which is probably a good thing. I’m glad you enjoyed this one overall Faith! Lovely review ^^
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  2. I agree that the fantasy world in Queen of the Tearling just can’t compare to GRRM or Robin Hobb. I found her world to be too simplistic, without any depth. Combined with the odd insta-attraction bordering on creepy in the beginning and the fact she’s so obsessed with her appearance made me DNF the book. There just wasn’t anything that interested me in enough to keep reading. I think I’ll just watch the movie (:
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