The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen is a book that I could not put down. The characters, and their plights, stayed with me then followed me into my dreams each night. What better compliment can I give a book?
Kelsea Raleigh lived her whole life in an isolated cabin with Carlin and Barty Glynn, her foster parents. On her nineteenth birthday, the Queen’s Guard came to take Kelsea to be crowned the 7th Queen of the Tearling — the Tear Heir.
Young, awkward, and never-been-kissed Kelsea is taken from everything she knows, including Carlin and Barty. However, all she knows is study, lessons and a wide library for her to peruse in her downtime. Kelsea knew nothing about running a country, or how a queen should function. With no choice, Kelsea and the Queen’s Guards, began their long journey towards the home of the Queen, a large dwelling called The Keep.
This dystopian futuristic novel set on Earth, but in the 24th century, starts off with the angst of a very young woman with, literally, the world on her shoulders.
Getting to The Keep would be no easy feat she’s told by the leader of the Guard, The Mace. Even if Kelsea makes it to The Keep the Guards were not entirely sure she would make it through the coronation! With morale so low, Kelsea wondered why they bothered to come get here if the journey alone was a fool’s errand.
During the journey, Kelsea learns that she is a target of both her uncle, the Regent in charge until she takes the throne back, and the ferocious Red Queen who everyone says does not age and cannot die. Both have come together to kill Kelsea — partly why she was so well hidden.
This first book introduces us to Kelsea Raleigh, a strong, stubborn, impetuous, intelligent, sharp-witted woman who must learn to trust her own instincts which includes the visions, impression and thoughts that come from the two ancient jewels that she’s entrusted with midway through book one.
This is a solidly YA novel but it reads so well, so seamlessly, so true to life that I had no trouble at all with this novel. (Many of you who read my reviews understand that I usually cannot bear the teenage angst of most YA novels. In this book the main character, Kelsea, is 19 and she is thrust into adulthood with adult problems. This could be one of the reasons this book was so engaging.)
If I tell you more, I ruin the book for you. What I will say is this is the first book since The All Souls Trilogy series (by Deborah Harkness) that I’ve completely lost connection with reality. The overcrowded subway, the warning bells at each stop, the funky smells — all disappeared as I delved into each chapter!
You will enjoy this book (and the sequel…The Invasion of the Tearling) guaranteed.
Did I mention that this book will be adapted into a film starring Emma Watson?