Book Review: Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen (Queen of the Tearling, #1)

Queen - Johansen

Queen of the Tearling

By Erika Johansen

Series: Queen of the Tearling, Book 1

My Rating: 5 Stars

Woohooo for Erika Johansen’s Queen of the Tearling series.  To say I’m excited about this series is putting it mildly.  I’ll be honest I hadn’t heard of this series until two of my staff asked when I was going to order the second book in the series.  Because of their enthusiasm I was turned toward this series.  I’m so grateful for their recommendation.  These books absolutely rocked!!!!   This is likely going to be my favorite series of the year and possibly my favorite books.  It’s definitely going to be ranked as one of my all-time favorite series.  I am so excited about this book and can’t wait to read the remaining two books in the series.  Bound to be the most popular book and series I’ve recommended to customers, friends and family since the Red Rising series by Pierce Brown (If you haven’t read the first two books in Brown’s series, YOU ARE MISSING OUT!!!) And I’m going to be a bit redundant by saying the same thing about Erika Johansen’s Queen of the Tearling series.  GO AND GET THESE BOOKS AND READ THEM.  If you don’t enjoy them even half as much as I did, I would be surprised.


Kelsea Raleigh is heir to the Tearling Throne but she’s been in hiding since she was a young girl.  Whisked away in secret during the night after her mother, Queen Elyssa, is assassinated, she has been raised in secret by two appointed guardians.  On the day of her 19th birthday Kelsea is retrieved by the Queen’s Guard, who have sworn to protect her to the death.  From the moment Kelsea leaves the security of the small cottage, where she was raised, the dangers that hunt her increase exponentially.  Kelsea, along with her Guard, must reach the Keep in the heart of New London, the capital of the Tearling, so she can assume the throne.  But not everyone wants Kelsea to reclaim her throne.  Her uncle has been Regent in the Keep since the death of Queen Elyssa and he will stop at nothing to keep Kelsea from ascending the throne.  And while he poses a threat, the real danger is the Red Queen of Mortmense.   The feared queen of Mortmense wants something Kelsea was given, two sapphire necklaces that hold immense power and magic.  As long as Kelsea has these necklaces she is grave danger.  Both the Regent ad the Red Queen have disbatched lethal assassins to find and kill Kelsea by all means possible.

Kelsea always dreamed of the day she would take the throne but she never imagined the danger she would be in or the challenges she would face when she ascended.  Leading the Tearling will take everything she has and more.  Kelsea will have to learn the history of her people and learn who she truly is and what she believes in if she is going to lead her people to a better tomorrow.  But the trespasses of those in the past will haunt Kelsea each and every day and she will have to fight to not let them define her.  A brutal war is brewing and it will take everything Kelsea has ever learned and a few things she has yet to discover to come out victorious.

My Thoughts

I think I’ve already established that I loved this book.  What an amazing world Erika Johansen has woven within the pages of this book.  Queen of the Tearling is delightfully entertaining, amazingly complex, and filled with some of the most original characters I’ve ever come across. And to top it off, she has imagined a heroine who is not only strong but willful, determined and representative of what a true hero must possess in order to be inspirational.  You are going to love her.

In reading some of the reviews people posted about this book I found one common thread of comments, specifically, that this book was slow.  And I couldn’t disagree more.  Queen of the Tearling was anything but slow.  Yes, it’s true, there isn’t a whole lot of action, but there is so much going on under the surface.  When describing this book to others I believe I said “There isn’t a whole lot going on in terms of action, though there is some of that, but there is SO MUCH GOING ON, just below the surface.”  The book is filled with characters who live to do business in secret and to hide what their true intentions are.  Therefore, the reader, has to take what they are being given and look below the surface.  That’s where the important stuff is happening.   It’s important to remember that everything may or may not be as it appears.  It’s what made this book truly amazing.

Do you ever read a book and think, “Awwww man, these characters are so flat. How disappointing.”?  Well I do.  Nothing pains me more than to go through a book and find the characters desperately lacking the much needed substance to hold a book together and propel it forward.  Erika Johansen has created some amazing characters for this series.  Characters I’m bound to stay attached to for a long long time.  Kelsea Raleigh undergoes a huge transformation in this book. I loved her inner voices and how she relied on them to push her and guide her.  She is such a strong character but selfless which provides her balance.  And while she is highly educated she is willing to listen to her advisers, namely Lazarus.  And how about Lazarus?  Yeah, he kept me guessing during this book.  I couldn’t help but feel like he’s hiding so much from Kelsea.  I wasn’t sure if it was for her benefit, the benefit of the Tearling or for his benefit.  And, I will admit that I had a theory about him at the end of the book.  I only hope all will be revealed in the next book.  And last but not least, I have to talk about The Fetch.  Yeah, he’s quite the entertaining character.  I loved him from the moment he appeared but I wasn’t sure what his agenda was and I’m certain he has an agenda.  Only time will tell though.  I’m not the only one who liked The Fetch.  My two employees loved him.  He’s just one of those characters you can’t help but love from the start. In a conversation about this book I was quoted saying “Yeah, The Fetch, I could do with more of him.  I REALLY liked him.”

Another great thing about this series is the whole premise of these books.  The plot is delightfully complex and full of mystery.  You don’t have much of a back story.   Johansen takes a unique approach in her book by giving you bits and pieces about the time period and how they got to where they are now.  She reveals all the details slowly and it takes a while before you fully understand.  You start reading them not really sure of the time period.  They live in small villages, have no real technology, farming is their main source of income, they ride horses for transportation, live in castles and have nobleman.  Keeping all of this in mind, it appears to be the middle ages.  But then small references are made to indicate that they live this way by choice.  That other countries are more advanced.  It’s not until quite far into the book that you realize that these books actually take place in the future.  It’s completely mind boggling to say the least and absolutely, fabulously amazing.  It’s so original that you can’t help but appreciate the creativeness of the plot.  I’m told that the second book reveals more about the past and how the Tearling and the surrounding countries came to be where they are at the point this story takes place.

Overall, this was an amazing read.  It’s intriguing and entertaining.  It’s complex but not confusing and the characters and their secrets will keep you guessing until the very last page.  Go and get this book.  Best read of the year right here!!!!


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