Review: The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

June 6, 2014 5 stars, Book Review, Giveaway 18 ★★★★★

Review: The Queen of the Tearling by Erika JohansenThe Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
Series: The Queen of the Tearling #1
Published by Harper on July 8, 2014
Genres: Adult SFF, Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 448
Format: ARC
Source: Blog Tour, Publisher
Buy on Amazon

Magic, adventure, mystery, and romance combine in this epic debut in which a young princess must reclaim her dead mother’s throne, learn to be a ruler—and defeat the Red Queen, a powerful and malevolent sorceress determined to destroy her.

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.

A Young Woman.
A Kingdom.
An Evil Enemy.
A Birthright Foretold...


“Kelsea sighed, feeling a mantle of inevitability settle over her, understanding that this would be the first of many compromises.”  (p.246)

The Queen of the Tearling had me asking myself so many questions. What kind of monarch would you make? Would you rule using fear and an iron fist like the Red Queen? Would you be weak an ineffectual like the deceased Queen Elyssa? Or do you have vision and spine? Can you make the decisions required to make your vision come true and hold your throne one day at a time?  We’ll see if Kelsea can…

We are introduced to our Queen, Kelsea who at 19 is called to take the throne of Tearling, ready or not. She has been raised in isolation to protect her from her dangerous enemies, some of which are her own family!

Erika Johansen does an excellent job giving us Kelsea’s backstory while remaining firmly entrenched in the present. The narrative is lively with the supporting characters being well defined and interesting. The book has an exciting feeling of depth, as if the characters are alive and separate from the story. While it is set in a post-apocalyptic future Earth I heard references to our society as it stands today and that was always a little thrill.  Erika Johansen uses wonderful words like “ceasura” which tickle my brain! There are a few POV shifts in the book although the main story rests with Kelsea. These are helpful to give an overall picture of what is happening and lets us see a helpful little bit more into the workings of the world.

Defying all odds, Kelsea arrives at her kingdom, but will she win the hearts of the people? Will she be able to rule despite the rampant corruption in her government and despotic leanings of the her neighboring country Mortmesne’s evil Red Queen?

Kelsea is a girl that we can all identify with. She loves books and she has a strong sense of social justice tempered with situational awareness. She will not stand by and see evil done and that is a point in her favor, as well as a danger to herself. Her intelligence, mettle and sense of justice  make her admirable, and her shortcomings make her human and identifiable. She adds people to her entourage throughout the book, and builds herself a power based on loyalty. These people all have hidden sides that are slowly being revealed with time. Kelsea has been given the Tearling Sapphire, a magical necklace that she is struggling to learn about. It is an interesting and unknown power that has the ability to rock the foundations of the world.

Each step of the story follows an inevitable course to a confrontation with the Red Queen… We can learn the mysteries behind The Fetch and The Mace… I cannot wait to read future books in this series to see how the story unfolds.  I hope Kelsea finds romance. I hope that her reign stabilizes and improves the lives if the people of Tearling.

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*gasp* This book was provided by the publisher! No worries though it’s an honest review and all opinions expressed are my own. Cover art displayed courtesy of the publisher. Quotes are taken from the Advanced Readers Edition and are subject to change upon publication. This post might also contain affiliate links. To view my full Blog Policy, click here.


When not taking care of my two children, husband and mini doxy, rushing here and there on the go, I can always be found reading. Fantasy of course being my favorite genre, but not the only I'll read. Oh yes, and I throw bad books.

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18 Responses to “Review: The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen”

  1. Melliane

    I didn’t know this one but it’s so great to have a heroine like that so we can easily relate. I confes that I’m curious about the queen now too. And I just love the cover! Great review!
    Melliane recently posted…Queen of Swords by Katee RobertMy Profile

  2. anne

    This book would be memorable and wonderful. Thanks for your review and giveaway.

  3. Kirsty-Marie

    I’m not too much into SFF, so I have to be in the right mood to read one, but keeping this on my list for when I am. Sounds like a great one, with a great main character, and I do love when there are alternating perspectives to show you an overall than more than what the main knows. Makes the story better that way. Glad you enjoyed it! 🙂
    Kirsty-Marie recently posted…Review: Murder Most UnladylikeMy Profile

  4. Amir

    I love the cover it is absolutely gorgeous! Kelsea seems like the girl I can identify with too, and she has a hell of a challenge in front of her, being isolated from everyone and then suddenly, given this huge responsibility that she may or may not be ready for. I love the setting too, it’s like post-apocalyptic monarchy 😀 Awesome review, would definitely put this on my wish list. Or if I’m lucky enough, I would win your giveaway!

    Thanks for the giveaway 🙂
    Amir recently posted…Guest Post: When Will I See You Again? by Joanne RockMy Profile