Friday, January 2, 2015

{Review + Giveaway} The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

Title: The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling #1)
Author: Erika Johansen
Publisher: Harper
Publication date: July 8th 2014
Buy the book (locally): Fully Booked
(internationally): Amazon / Barnes and Noble

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.
(Image and summary taken from Goodreads.)


I was honestly a bit apprehensive in regards to reading The Queen of the Tearling because of the mixed reviews I saw, but as an opportunity came up for me to review it, I decided to throw caution to the wind and read it. After finishing all 400-plus pages, I realized that the novel was one of those “acquired taste” kind of books; because I did enjoy reading it (in all its weird but oddly appealing entirety). When I got over the obscure and slightly confusing world building (I sort of just forgot about it after a while), I was able to truly appreciate the complexity and diversity of the characters, the interesting plot and the great writing (Erika Johansen has got some beautiful words).

As I have mentioned above, one of the things that truly struck me was Erika Johansen’s writing. At first glance, it seems like your normal third-person point of view but as you delve deeper into the story, you see subtle shifts in her writing. The way she incorporates words and lines that make the text more captivating and enthralling. I was especially impressed when Erika Johansen was able to switch to different points of view so effortlessly and smoothly. I have read a number of novels wherein the characters have the same tone making it hard to differentiate between the alternating POVs or the author uses too many POVs which ends up with me being confused, but Erika Johansen used only significant POVs that may seem unimportant at the start but are given greater role as the story progresses. Each POV switch allows the reader to truly get to know the characters better and also see the story with a broader scope.

The character development in The Queen of the Tearling was also very good. The reader is given the chance to really connect with each character, even I found myself invested in most of the characters. I loved reading about the Queen’s Guard, each member had their own story to tell and I look forward to hearing more of them as the series goes on. (They are all so mysterious and so badass! Makes me want my own set of guards. Oh, and did I mention that they’re all good looking? I don’t even care how old they are, I’d take them, lol. Total groupie over here!) However, in the numerous characters I met, there were four that really got me all kinds of excited and intrigued: The Fetch, who reminds me of The Darkling (from the Grisha trilogy) but less evil but no less mysterious; The Red Queen, who is one crazy but interesting bitch; Cardinal Anders, who is a God’s man with insanely questionable intentions; and the dark thing, who is exactly that but where did it come from, what is its purpose, and so many more questions! But really, I commend Erika Johansen for being able to really build up each character and give them all a significant role. (Really liked the direction she took with Javel, the Gate Guard.)

If there is one person that surprised me the most, it would have to be the protagonist, Kelsea Raleigh. Having been sheltered and kept hidden for all of her life and then suddenly taken and then made into the queen would have made anyone pause but Kelsea took everything into stride. I never thought that she would be as fierce as she turned out to be. Even though she had bouts of insecurities at times, her confidence and rule as the Queen of the Tearling never wavered. She was very diplomatic and strategic and her command for respect made me respect her as well. She turned out to be a better queen that I expected her to be, than everyone expected her to be. Kelsea was definitely a force to be reckoned with and she stunned me. The decisions she made were tough and I really admire her for being so brave. I’d absolutely bow down to her. I am really looking forward to seeing how much more she can grow in the coming books.

Okay, time for the things I didn’t like about The Queen of the Tearling. First off, I wasn’t impressed by the fact that everyone seemed to be commenting on how plain Kelsea was. I really didn’t understand why people had to constantly mention it but I’m hoping that it’ll pass in the next books. And the other thing I didn’t particularly appreciated about the book was the world building and the general theme of the story. I felt that there were times wherein the story strayed from Fantasy and went into some other world or something. I wasn’t even sure if it was Fantasy in the first place because it was also Post-Apocalyptic or Dystopian or Historical or something. I was very confused but the farther I got into the story, the less it mattered, I literally just went with it. (It was better to go with the flow than stress about the structure.)

Another bit about the book that really got to me (in a good/bad way) was the fact that there was no romance, in Kelsea’s part (which was what really mattered anyway). While it gave the her more space to grow independently, I would’ve liked at least a kiss or a look from someone. (Totally Team Pen here, lol.) Hopefully we’ll get more in the next books! Also, I’m sure you’ve noticed that I keep mentioning the next books; well, it’s because there were a lot of things left unresolved in The Queen of the Tearling. I seriously have so many questions right now and I’m hoping that they’ll get answered in the sequels. So. Many. Questions. But I am happy to say that The Queen of the Tearling ended in a satisfying way, for me at least.

The Queen of the Tearling is a gem of a debut novel that shines with an exciting cast of charactesr, a great story line and gorgeous writing I would absolutely recommend it to anyone who is looking for some pure Fantasy with an extra crazy world building thrown into the mix, and a bunch of other really awesome things. I really enjoyed The Queen of the Tearling and I am seriously looking forward to the sequel. (Interesting enough, this book was my last read of 2014 so I ended the year with a good read. Yay!)


To start 2015 off, we're giving away this gorgeous copy of The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen. I hope that whoever wins this will enjoy the book as much as I did. (And the Queen's Guard, heehee.)

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen is available in Fully Booked.
Just wanted to say a quick thank you to the amazing people at Fully Booked (Trish, Angel and co.) who made this all possible. You all ROCK.


  1. Love the cover of this one. It's one of the books I've been eyeing to read and I enjoyed reading your review! :)

  2. I can't wait to get my hands on this book!!!!! I had fun reading your review! More power! God bless.

  3. It sounds really cool! Being a junkie for fantasy and dystopian stories, your review really caught my attention. Now, I am intrigued of this new world. And oh, I love the way you talked about the writing. Makes me more intrigued! Thanks for the giveaway! :D

  4. I haven't read a good YA this past few months. Perhaps I'm not looking at the right places. LOL. I'd like to try this because you liked it, I guess. When I don't know what to read next, I run to my most trusted bloggers to decide. :)

  5. OOoh nice review! I have this one in my TBR Mountain of Doom! Hoping to get to this year! Heard some good things about it and glad to hear you enjoyed it as well! Great review!

  6. I heard there's an upcoming movie adaptation and Emma Watson's going to be the lead. Thank you!

  7. I enjoyed reading your review. Can't wait to read the full book!

  8. Sounds amazing!! Good luck everyone

  9. It's been in my TBR pile since last year. I'm a huge fan of high fantasy.

  10. I want to read this because:
    1) I've read a lot of good things about this book and your review points out a lot of things I like about in a book including the lack of romance from Kelsea's part because it's refreshing to see a high fantasy book that doesn't focus on the romance side.
    2) It's been in my tbr list before it even hit the shelves, I just can't find a copy here in my province; and
    3) I heard through the grape vines that this is going to be a movie and Emma Watson is going to be Kelsea. I think it's impressive for a debut book to score a movie adaptation immediately.

  11. I've read awesome reviews about it and I can't resist the cover! ;)

  12. To be honest I'm so curious about this book when i passed by a bookstore i always think if i will grab a copy or not and the cover is really pretty.

  13. Because Emma Watson will play the lead! :))

  14. I enjoyed your review! and man, love the pretty cover!