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BOOK REVIEW: The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

| 26 August 2014 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

Bantam Press
August 2014, $32.99
Reviewed by Steph O’Connell



Kelsea Glynn is the rightful heir to the throne, but no one knows where she is; she’s been in hiding her entire life.
Today is her nineteenth birthday, and time for her to take back her throne from her uncle, who is wasting the crown’s money on his own illicit pleasures, rather than helping its people.
She’s a little on the chubby side, a bookworm, and wants what’s best for her people, add to that the fact that this book has been likened to The Hunger Games, and Game of Thrones.
And just look at that cover! 

Sounds like an interesting story, no? 

I thought so, too, and then I hit page eight of this 432 page novel, and the troubles started.


The writing was stilted, choppy, and didn’t give off any emotions. We weren’t shown things, but told them repeatedly. Especially the fact that Kelsea is fat, ugly, and would make a better boy than girl. We GET it, Kelsea. 

Kelsea doesn’t want to be vain like her mother, but she can’t seem to help it. 

She wonders how old people could possibly place any importance on looks, she gets jealous of the pretty aides, and she rejoices in the arrival of an old, ugly man with the thought “Finally, someone who makes me look beautiful”, but then she scolds her own “vanity” for not wanting to stand in front of a whole troop of guards, naked. 

The guards were stupid: 

They collect her from her cottage to escort her to the throne. As they travel, they tell her they are aware they’re being followed, and when they make camp for the night they drink and tell loud stories around a roaring campfire.

At some point on their journey, it becomes suddenly urgent that they escape. They’ve been followed this whole time, and I’m still not sure what it was that told them the followers were about to strike. 
They split up, each guard going his own way, hoping to confuse the trackers. Kelsea even wears the armor of one of the guards to further disguise herself. Of course they’re not going to let the heir to the throne ride away by herself, so their best rider is going to stay close to her, but not close enough to be suspicious. 
Then, as an enemy hawk approaches, he sends her off on her horse: 

“Christ!” Mace slapped the horse’s rump and Rake leaped forward, the reins nearly jerked from Kelsea’s hands. Behind her, she heard him call out, “Dolls and dresses, Lady! You’ll need to be tougher than this!”

Subtle, Mace. REALLY subtle. 
This is the guy she chooses to be in charge of her guard when she’s queen. 

The villains were pathetic and half-assed: 

Kelsea’s uncle has wanted her dead for the past eighteen years, and he has been in cahoots with the evil queen of Mortmesne (also known as the Red Queen. She doesn’t have a name, and apparently there’s a reason). The Red Queen has dark magic on her side, and doesn’t appear to age. She often bemoans the loss of her loyal servants to old age, while she remains young and beautiful. But they let Kelsea reach nineteen, and they let her find her way back to the Keep.

On top of that, Kelsea’s Mother’s guards have stayed in the Keep for eighteen years, despite the Regent’s wishes. He tried EVERYTHING. He assigned them to jobs away from the keep, he stopped their pay, I mean, so much EFFORT went into getting rid of these people. 

Okay, so I’m willing to give them the fact that Kelsea was supposedly hidden really well(though the guards knew where she was), and she only ever saw two people those eighteen years. But when Kelsea comes back, and they know where she is and supposedly have the means to destroy her, they just kinda… whinge about the fact that they would have to DO something. Maybe they’ll just wait and see, maybe someone else will kill her.

What FANTASTIC villains you are, really, bravi!


None of the characters could logic:

Kelsea’s mother died when Kelsea was still an infant, and she was raised by a governess and queen’s guard.

On Kelsea’s nineteenth birthday, when her escort  turns up, she has to say farewell to her guardians. They haven’t taught her anything about politics, and they sure as hell haven’t told her anything about what kind of queen her mother was.

On the trip back to New London, and throughout the rest of the story, Kelsea seeks the truth about her mother, the truth about their past, but no one will tell her the full story.

Because they swore an oath. To a dead woman. To a dead woman who was, by most accounts, a pretty rubbish queen, and who let her people suffer.

I fail to see how these people could POSSIBLY expect her to be a half-sufficient ruler, let alone a good one, without telling her ANYTHING about what she’s walking into.

That phrase on the front:

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

Yeah, I’m pretty sure the one thing standing in her way is her ignorance of how the world works, fuelled by the people who want her to “save” them.

The world building just didn’t make sense: 

I really am not SURE where these people live. All I know is that it’s in our future (Rowling, Tolkien, and others are mentioned), and that some 300 years ago, a man decided to “cross” to somewhere via boat, and it seems to be a one way journey. This man, William Tear, decided that his new world would have no technology, but they would have doctors… Except the medical ship went down in the crossing(all doctors and nurses were transported on one ship. C’mon, even royal families know better than that), so proper doctors are hard to come by. Oh, and they went back to being ruled by a monarchy.They weren’t the only ones to cross, and the Mortmesne people seem to have been more prepared, so they still have educated people and doctors. 

There are a lot of people in this world, which seems to have reverted back to medieval times, and I can’t help but wonder how William Tear convinced them all. 
All these people gave up their smart phones, their ebooks, their cars, heck, their medical science(because that’s the other thing technology is really useful for), and moved to a place where they would have no indoor plumbing, would likely not be able to bathe for days if not weeks at a time, and would have to get around by horse or by walking, before dying a surely premature death. 
All while being ruled over by a monarch and not getting any say in who takes the throne, because it’s all down to the bloodlines. 

Sure, as a fantasy, there would have been nothing really stand-out about it, but as a dystopian it just plain doesn’t make sense.

I’ll admit that it did pick up a bit around the three hundred page mark, but it was far too little, far too late.


Status updates made throughout the reading of this book can be found here:


There’s too much to include in one review without going off on some serious tangents, and waffling on for pages and pages.

Category: Book Reviews, Other Reviews

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