The Queen of the Tearling

The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling, #1)The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Publisher: Harper
Series: The Queen of the Tearling
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Dystopian
Purchase: Book Depository

This review contains no spoilers.

An untested young princess must claim her throne, learn to become a queen, and combat a malevolent sorceress in an epic battle between light and darkness in this spectacular debut—the first novel in a trilogy.

Young Kelsea Raleigh was raised in hiding after the death of her mother, Queen Elyssa, far from the intrigues of the royal Keep and in the care of two devoted servants who pledged their lives to protect her. Growing up in a cottage deep in the woods, Kelsea knows little of her kingdom’s haunted past . . . or that its fate will soon rest in her hands.

This is a very interesting book because it’s a combination of dystopian and classic fantasy. The settlers in Tear and the surrounding countries are descended from a group of people who sailed away from the world we know America and England, to a ‘new world’ that would be founded on socialism and atheism and lack all modern technologies (except medicine). Obviously all of these plans failed: there’s a serfdom, a slave trade, a “Church” with the same power as the Catholic Church had over Medieval Europe, and the boat carrying all the doctors and medical equipment sunk before they arrived.

My biggest gripe with this series is a simple question: what land mass is this supposed to be happening on? The settlers (three centuries before the book takes place) supposedly sailed to the Tear region from America and Europe, but it never tells us which landmass they went to. There’s no island large enough for this to be happening on, and everywhere else is inhabited (which it apparently wasn’t when they arrived). Hopefully that will be explained later in the series.

I loved the world, the characters, and everything about this. It’s one of the best books I’ve read in a while (and I’ve been reading some good stuff recently!).


Kelsea: The main character (and title character) is Kelsea Raleigh. She quickly establishes herself as an idealist, who is only starting to realize the consequences of her actions. Kelsea is also a huge book lover, which actually ends up a pretty large part of her character. She was a bit vain, and spent quite a bit of time complaining about her looks for someone who was obsessed with “not being vain” like a certain other character (no spoilers!).

Mace: The head of The Queens Guard, Mace is an old pro who always seems to be five or six steps ahead of everyone else in terms of planning and plotting. Unlike Kelsea, Mace is

Fetch: The leader of a band of outlaws – rather like Robin Hood in their notoriety – who ends up saving Kelsea’s life (by deciding not to murder her) and plays a very important part in her decisions.

The Regent: Kelsea’s Uncle and regent is completely unlikeable from the moment he is introduced (because he is trying to kill her in whatever way possible).

The Queen of Mort: Otherwise known as the Red Queen, but I’d hate for you to confuse this with the book of the same name by Victoria Aveyard. She’s called by these titles because no one knows what her real name is. She’s pretty awesome in a very evil way, in her scenes you can expect witchcraft, intrigue, and good, old fashioned evil.


The new ‘thing’ in YA seems to be a brutal realism, like I complained about in The Kingdom of Little Wounds by Susann Cokal (read my review), there was a lot of talk of sex and rape. However, it was no where near as graphic and detailed (or common) in this book. I still feel as though I should warn you before telling you to go read it. There is mention of sex and rape, however, nothing too graphic. The worst is during the scenes in The Mort Queen’s POV.


Overall, I’d reccomend this book for fans of the Girl of Fire and Thorns series by Rae Carson. It had a spark to it that was similar to parts of that series, the same style of adventure tinged with politics. Like that series the main character was likable up until her looks were brought into play. Yes Kelsea, I get it, you’re ‘plain’ and yes, Elisa (of Girl of Fire and Thorns), I get it, you’re fat. Shut up and move on with the story.

The reason this didn’t rank five stars was pretty simple: the “what landmass are we on” question and “Kelsea stop whining about your looks.” Other than that it was really great, and neither of those are too pressing so you should be able to ignore it completely!!


2 thoughts on “The Queen of the Tearling

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