by Erika Johansen
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.
The Queen of the Tearling introduces readers to a world as fully imagined and terrifying as that of The Hunger Games, with characters as vivid and intriguing as those of The Game of Thrones, and a wholly original heroine. Combining thrilling action and twisting plot turns, it is a magnificent debut from the talented Erika Johansen.
Let's face it. Unless you've been living under a rock for about 6 months, you've heard of this book. I have seen raving after raving review of this book with all it's epic high fantasy-ness and intriguing plot and plain but tough in her own way heroine. So, naturally, I went out and spent my money on it.
Eh. I'm not sure.....
Apparently, I missed the "really awesomely fantastic OIWJEFOWEJF" book part. And yet, I didn't.
Honestly, I really have absolutely no idea how I feel about this book.
When I finally got my hands on it, I devoured it. This book is huge with really small writing, yet I took ever opportunity to read it. That should mean I loved it, right?
This is one of those books where I was eating up the pages like
The book was pulling at me saying "read me, love me, worship meeeeeeee".
Then I finished the book and looked more like this....
And right about now, I have a
really unflattering look of confusion upon my face.
Writing this review? Impossible. How can I say I loved it, yet felt it lacking in so many places? After finishing this book, I knew I had to get all my thoughts down, no matter how jumbled they were. So, I sat down at work and wrote an e-mail to myself with bullet points of all the good, the bad, and the just plain ugly (because who actually works at work, amirite?) It's a confusing and messy mixture of words. However, it's really the only way to write this thing.
So, without further ado, here are my incredibly eloquent, long, and not in the least bit confusing bullet points with both the positive and the negative of this....interesting book.
- First off, loveeee the cover and style of this book. It feels so old timey and even had a BUILT-IN BOOKMARK!
- It was good. Obviously. Else I wouldn't have devoured it like I did. But, this is one of those books where, after you finish, you're like "wait....what?". Sure, a couple things bugged me during, but after actually finishing and allowing things to sink it, I realized I had many issues.
- So...the Caden are supposed to be like super awesome assassins.....except they aren't. Don't get me wrong, Mace is skilled, I get that. Butttttt shouldn't assassins be all lithe and really skilled? Mace is just brute stregth, but I feel as if the assassins could've, ya know, dodged the mace. But they didn't. He took down like 4!? Couldn't one have distracted while another came from behind with a knife or something? Also, SUPER quick fight. I feel that if it had gone into a bit more detail to really show how the Mace beat them, it'd be more believable. But he swung his Mace and sayonara!
- Also...how was NO one able to find her? I'm assuming Magic of some sort. Still not sure though.
- The Red Queen is very one dimensional when you stop to think about it. She's evil for the sake of being evil. But why? Again, I know that this will be discussed (hopefully) in future books, but there could've been a glimpse of her past. Her evilness was definitely mainly the shock factor. Don't get me wrong, I'm excited to see why she's evil (and psycho) and I was intrigued by her few chapters, but still left wanting.
- I like Kelsea. She's tough and intelligent (somewhat) and though insecure, she holds her own. But I still had issues.
- Her insecurities. I think it's awesome when a heroine isn't your typical model-pretty. It's realistic because not everyone is going to look like that (myself included). The problem lies in the fact that here she is complaining about being "plain" (overused) yet is quite cruel to a woman who isn't pretty according to her, yet the woman obviously believed so. Example? " and for all the anguish that Kelsea's own reflection had caused her lately, she saw something far worse than being ugly: being ugly and thinking you were beautiful." What's wrong with that? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, isn't it? Neither Kelsea nor this woman may fit into the "standards of beauty", but it doesn't mean they aren't or that someone won't find them beautiful. Had it just been her complaining about her being plain, I would've been annoyed slightly only because the word was overused, but it was this quote that diminished my view of her. I understand jealousy, but to a girl who has confidence (even if she does have a crappy attitude)?
- For all her faults, I still liked her. But, I definitely have some issues with her...politics. Look, I'm a realist. I admit it. And Kelsea....is an idealist. So, our....politics...differ. One, I don't really care for when author's shove their beliefs down your throat and unfortunately, that happens. Often. Normally, whether I agree with them or not, if it's subtle I'm totally okay. This was definitely a bit forced. And applicable today. So, since this takes place in the future, it's hinting that basically because things weren't done a certain way, it caused all our problems, eventual downfall, etc. She's definitely and idealist, and I congratulate her on it, but things just aren't that simple. I think that is really the problem. Not so much that we may differ in views, but that she thinks it's just so easy. Politics are NEVER easy. Part of me wants to be like YAY! she's going to be a great leader who cares about helping, but she also has NO grasp whatsoever on politics if she thinks you can just say it and it will happen. There are a lot more factors than that. Sorry girl.
- Spoiler (sort of)Also, call me cold and heartless but what she did at the beginning when she gets to the castle was completely and utterly idiotic. This goes along with the whole thinking politics are easy. So....you're going to take you'r whole country to a war which y'all know you ain't gonna win, to save a few? Yes, I'm heartless. Sue me. Like, if she had a fighting chance or thought it through or negotiated or something, then maybe. But WHAT DID SHE THINK WAS GOING TO HAPPEN?! Don't get me wrong. I commend her and even kind of like it, but the fact that she thought that'd be the end of it or that there would be no repercussions is what bothered me. End spoiler
- I do like the harem of sexy men though. It's a bit weird because they're all older than her, but I do admit, I love myself a silver fox ;)
- Also, THEY have a head on their shoulder. Which most likely comes with age. Which is good for Kelsea. I like her, but she's got a lot of growing up to do and I chalk that up to her being raised in a cottage with only two people. She hasn't had an opportunity to learn from anyone else or engage in critical thinking. I'm excited to see where she goes and how she changes and grows up.
- Oh, and the Fetch! How could I forget about him? He's not in here nearly as much as he should be. Sure, we only catch a glimpse of him, but call me interested. He's mysterious. Though....I'm not actually sure of his purpose.
- And, surprisingly, the whole world thing didn't bother me that much. Maybe because I expected it? Basically this takes place in the future that went back to medieval times. Now, the explanations for how it came to be or how there were no doctors wasn't exactly logical in my book, but maybe we'll get a better (truer) explanation later on.
- Also, I'm definitely over the whole anti-religion thing. Sometimes she handles it well, but very few times. Don't get me wrong, I know that religious systems aren't perfect and have been/are even now corrupt however, to paint all religion negatively and to bring it up often and have it as an integral part is a bit grating. The saving grace? The one good religious guy. I like him. You go adorable, sweet old man.
- I did like the random POV changes. They tied in really well and it actually gave us a glimpse of what is actually going on.
- Spoiler (sort of - nothing detailed, but overview of plot)
- After finishing, I just feel like nothing actually happened. She became queen and that's it. Basically. Like it's traveling from the cottage to the castle, some attempts on her life, reaching the kingdom, doing one grand (stupid) gesture, more attempts, one final grand attempt and that's it. It's not necessarily that nothing happened, but nothing was accomplished. End spoiler.
As you can see, those points are all over the place and definitely not in chronological order. Heck, I'm not even sure I hit it all. But, this is all I wrote at the time and I don't really feel like writing even more (heck, this thing is long enough as is!).
So, in case you skipped the rather confusing and jumbled mess that is the review above, here is the run down:
I both loved it and hated it. This book is good. The main character has potential, though she also has a lot of growing up to do. She's got good ideas and really cares, but is also immature at times. There is a harem of sexy, older men. The villain is more shock factor than anything, but I'm interested to see where it goes. The Fetch is hot. And mysterious. Not in here enough, but I look forward to reading more about him. The world-building isn't A+ and I'm not sure exactly how it works out, but it's definitely different. While some political shoving and religious hating nagged me, it was also ignorable (somewhat - it was just a little bit too much of HERE! HERE ARE MY POLITICAL VIEWS! THEY ARE OBVIOUSLY CORRECT! TAKE THEM! IMPLEMENT THEM! NOWWWW). Also, looking back, I don't feel like the plot really moved anywhere. But I liked it. I think. I don't know. I'm confused....
So, remember when I mentioned the harem of silver foxes? Well here's a post full of them so that you'll think reading my long review was worth it. Which it totally was.