Book Review: The Queen of the Tearling

Book Review: The Queen of the TearlingThe Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
Series: The Queen of the Tearling #1
Published by Harper Collins on July 8th 2014
Pages: 448
Buy on Amazon

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 would have been a DNF if not for the talented voice acting of Katherine Kellgren. It’s a slow, long book, set in a fantasy world of the Tear which wasn’t well enough explained, especially for such a lengthy novel. Most of the description is setting or character related and it starts to get tiresome after a while. The mix of some advanced technology is mixed in with a medieval setting and there’s only mention of some sort of event that caused a mix of British and Americans coming and creating the land. Not sure about how they lost all their tech, because it is never explained in the book.

Basically, the book is about Kelsea who has been hidden away for her protection, isolated and now of age to become queen. People are out to kill her and she has a small Queen’s guard that escorts her from her hidden home to the palace. Kelsea, although sheltered, seems obsessed with her plainness from the second you meet her. She’s only seen herself once, but she knew she was ugly. Not sure how, since she lived with two old people. So in an attempt to make her un-vain, she is instead obsessed with her ugliness and compares herself as such to nearly everyone she meets. This inner voice drove me nuts throughout the whole book to be honest.

The somewhat love interest is the Fetch and as much as I wanted to like his character it felt quite a bit forced. He’s like Robin Hood, only he’s actually kind of a bad guy. Yet, Kelsea falls in love with him and even though he kidnaps hers (and lets her go after she passes some obscure test) she decides she’ll never want to charge him with his many crimes. In fact, at one point he even kills her uncle as a present and preserves his head and leaves it near the palace. Um, creepy love interest much?

To make this book even worse, most of the book seems to be spent traveling, for days. I get it, horses are slow, but c’mon – we can fast forward a bit, can’t we? I really wanted to like Mace, the lead of the Queen’s Guard, but he was pretty much borderline rude to the queen for most of the book and she just calmly accepted it. He was all hard edges and I didn’t feel I got to know him all that well.

The main highlight of the book was the few scenes with the Queen of Mortmain, who was vicious, beautiful and sacrificed children to demons. Sadly, all she did was lay around the castle it seemed, I was hoping for some confrontation from her once Kelsea took the throne. Even the evil uncle was a sad disappointment, being only a pawn for the Mortmain queen and a rather sad state of a man – spoiled and only caring about his many valuables – including several whores.

I think after writing this review, I’m dropping it an extra star on Goodreads. Pretty much the only great thing about this book is that it is narrated by Katherine Kellgren on audio, my favorite narrator and she brought the story to life. Unfortunately the rest of the book just did not hold up.


A sore disappointment of a book with an annoying lead character, a lack of world building and way too long. Try this one on audio if you feel you must.

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4 responses to “Book Review: The Queen of the Tearling

  1. Yeahhh I have heard this one was crap from many of the reviewers I trust with these things. It doesn’t surprise me, reading your opinion on it, either. That’s good the narrator was good though! I still think imma pass on this one tho 😛

  2. Well at least you liked something about it! lol I actually enjoyed this book a good deal, but I read it as an introductory to an even better more action packed second book. Some adult fantasy novels are like that I think. I also really liked the queen. I can totally see why you thought it was boring though and why the queen’s weirdness to Fetch was well weird, because it was. lol I’m agreeing with you there. I did like Mace however, he had his reasons for being the way he was. Great review! I love reading reviews of books I’ve read to see what others think. 🙂

  3. Sam

    It is a pretty bad book, but it’s not terribly long by fantasy standards.

    I mainly took issue with the extremely amateurish worldbuilding, and the fact that the author clearly doesn’t understand the workings of power. The plot is also full of nonsensical contrivances, and I often found the dialogue rather awkward. The rather simplistic story and unsophisticated characters are not good enough to make up for the many annoyances. It is just a bit naff.

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