Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Blog Tour (Review): The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

Title: The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling #1)
Erika Johansen
Publisher: Harper
Release Date: July 8, 2014
Acquired Via:
TLC Book Tours

Magic, adventure, mystery, and romance combine in this epic debut in which a young princess must reclaim her dead mother’s throne, learn to be a ruler—and defeat the Red Queen, a powerful and malevolent sorceress determined to destroy her.

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.

My Review

I've been reading a lot of fantasy lately, and it's very easy for me to get burned out on the genre, though it's my favorite, because writers tend to stick to overused formulas and plot devices. Johansen's Queen of the Tearling did indeed put some of those fantasy formulas to use, but the writing and characters were so good that I was willing to overlook it.

I'll try to be as spoiler-free as possible, so I'll only tell you about one of the plot devices that is used in Queen of the Tearling. (It comes up very early in the book, so I swear I'm not ruining anything for you.) The book is set in the future, though the lifestyle has reverted to medieval (of course) because knowledge and technology has been lost. This is probably my least favorite of the overused plot devices, but it didn't bother me so much in Queen of the Tearling because Johansen didn't spend too much time on it or expect it to be some sort of shocking twist. To be fair, I know the majority of the population doesn't read as much as I do, so the whole "Surprise, it's the future!" thing is a pleasant surprise to a lot of readers. I've just seen it so much that I'm surprised when it's NOT used.

In no way does Queen of the Tearling read like a debut novel. Johansen's writing and world-building was executed well, and I was able to learn about the history of Tearling and the neighboring realms without info-dumping. The formation of the kingdom and its interaction with its neighboring country of Mortmesne was fascinating to read as well. What I had a problem with is not knowing where these mysterious countries are. There was The Crossing, initiated by William Tear and his followers, but where did they go? There's nowhere else on Earth that we can go (that I know of), and the very earliest that they could have left for Tearling is 1909. You see, pennies with Lincoln on them are mentioned, and they were first minted in 1909. Maybe I missed something or it'll be in a later book, but that kept me scratching my head. However, kudos to Johansen for making me think super hard about how this happened, even well after I finished the book. (I love riddles.)

As for the characters in Queen of the Tearling, they were interesting and engaging, but not quite worthy of the A Game of Thrones comparison. I liked Kelsea, Mace, and the Fetch, but they're nowhere near as complex as the characters in A Song of Ice and Fire. Kelsea, the main character, is a teenage girl who is due to take over the Tearling throne. And she's just that - a teenage girl. She's also plain and a bit chubby (I think?), and everything about her is on the surface. Thank Bob she wasn't some secretly beautiful snowflake that had men falling over themselves to get to her.

Queen of the Tearling is a very long book, but it was one that I enjoyed immensely when I forgot about the hype (that I mostly ignored) of what it should have been. I think fans of fantasy novels will love this book, and I can't wait to read more books by Erika Johansen.

- 4/5 Stars -

Buy Links
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Fishpond | IndieBound

About the Author

Erika Johansen grew up and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She went to Swarthmore College, earned an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and eventually became an attorney, but she never stopped writing.

Follow the Tour

The Queen of the Tearling Tour Schedule

Monday, April 21st
Literally Jen

Tuesday, April 22nd
Ageless Pages Reviews

Wednesday, April 23rd
Bibliophilia, Please

Thursday, April 24th
Book Loving Hippo

Friday, April 25th
The Written World

Monday, April 28th
More Than Just Magic

Tuesday, April 29th
Book Marks the Spot

Wednesday, April 30th
Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile

Thursday, May 1st
Books Without Any Pictures

Monday, May 5th
Must Read Faster

Wednesday, May 7th
Reading Reality

Thursday, May 8th

Monday, May 12th
Girls Just Reading

Tuesday, May 13th
Conceptual Reception

Wednesday, May 14th
Adorkable Me

Thursday, May 15th
Giraffe Days

Monday, May 19th
No More Grumpy Bookseller

Tuesday, May 20th
The Best Books Ever

Wednesday, May 21st
Mel’s Shelves

Thursday, May 22nd
An Avid Reader’s Musings

Friday, May 23rd
Bewitched Bookworms

Tuesday, May 27th
Fyrefly’s Book Blog

Wednesday, May 28th

Thursday, May 29th
The Bookmark Blog

Monday, June 2nd
Ladybug Literature

Tuesday, June 3rd
She’s Got Books On Her Mind

Wednesday, June 4th
Katie’s Nesting Spot

Thursday, June 5th
One Book at a Time

Friday, June 6th
Not Yet Read

Monday, June 9th
Books and Bindings

Tuesday, June 10th
The Infinite Shelf

Wednesday, June 11th
Spiced Latte Reads

Thursday, June 12th
The Reader’s Hollow

Monday, June 16th
Open Book Society

Friday, June 13th
The Road to Here

To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received a copy of the novel from the publisher through TLC Book Tours in exchange for an unbiased review. It has in no way affected the outcome. All expressed opinions are awesome, honest, and courtesy of me.


  1. Great review! I LOVE the cover!

  2. I'm so glad you liked it! I plan on reading it, and I like that the teenage girl is plain. I get tired of the stereotypical beautiful characters.

    Thanks for being on the tour!

    1. Thanks for allowing me to take part in the tour! It was refreshing to have a "normal" character, despite being a queen and all. Oh! She also made mistakes! Now how often do we see that?

  3. I love fantasy and it sounds like I will love this too. With all the hype I half ignored what it was about, but now I've actually read the synopsis properly I am really excited to read it. Thanks for sharing :)

    1. My pleasure! I hope you enjoy it. Once you take away everything that it's hyped up to be, it's quite an enjoyable book.


You are going to put words in my box?! *squeezes you* Now I shall stalk YOUR blog!