Review: The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

Synopsis for The Queen of the Tearling

An untested young princess must claim her throne, learn to become a queen, and combat a malevolent sorceress in an epic battle between light and darkness in this spectacular debut—the first novel in a trilogy.

Young Kelsea Raleigh was raised in hiding after the death of her mother, Queen Elyssa, far from the intrigues of the royal Keep and in the care of two devoted servants who pledged their lives to protect her. Growing up in a cottage deep in the woods, Kelsea knows little of her kingdom’s haunted past . . . or that its fate will soon rest in her hands.

Long ago, Kelsea’s forefathers sailed away from a decaying world to establish a new land free of modern technology. Three hundred years later, this feudal society has divided into three fearful nations who pay duties to a fourth: the powerful Mortmesne, ruled by the cunning Red Queen. Now, on Kelsea’s nineteenth birthday, the tattered remnants of the Queen’s Guard—loyal soldiers who protect the throne—have appeared to escort the princess on a perilous journey to the capital to ascend to her rightful place as the new Queen of the Tearling.

Though born of royal blood and in possession of the Tear sapphire, a jewel of immense power and magic, Kelsea has never felt more uncertain of her ability to rule. But the shocking evil she discovers in the heart of her realm will precipitate an act of immense daring, throwing the entire kingdom into turmoil—and unleashing the Red Queen’s vengeance. A cabal of enemies with an array of deadly weapons, from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic, plots to destroy her. But Kelsea is growing in strength and stealth, her steely resolve earning her loyal allies, including the Queen’s Guard, led by the enigmatic Lazarus, and the intriguing outlaw known simply as “the Fetch.”

Kelsea’s quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun. Riddled with mysteries, betrayals, and treacherous battles, Kelsea’s journey is a trial by fire that will either forge a legend . . . or destroy her.


The Queen of the Tearling is the best fantasy novel I have read in awhile – I loved every page of it! It was full of action and intrigue. I found myself at the edge of my seat many times over. Page after page there was plotting, fighting, and near death experiences, not to mention the constant mystery from different characters.

Kelsea couldn’t be a better character. She’s a new favorite character of mine, right up there with Katniss Everdeen. Nothing pleases me more than a female character who knows her own mind and will speak it, but not in a snobby “I’m better than you”.

The Kingdom of Tear was in a horrible state of affairs and got the exact queen it needed when it needed her. I also loved Kelsea’s guards Lazarus and Pen, as well as the outlaw Fetch. Each character had a small story of their own that was enjoyable to read, and some left me wanting more, especially Fetch. There were so many twists, turns, and mysteries teased at that my internal dialogue could best be summed up as:

“Oh my God, what just happened?”

“Wait, did that just happen?!”

“What happens next?!”

“I must get my hands on The Invasion of the Tearling. Now!”

I will say I found The Queen of the Tearling a lot more mature than the YA label it carries. There was some extreme vulgarity, and while it was few and far between, it felt jarring to read simply because I was not expecting it. That will not stop me from purchasing The Invasion of the Tearling, though, because it was still an amazing story to read.

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