The Queen of the Tearling, by Erika Johansen

Queen of the TearlingKelsea grew up in a cottage in the woods with her foster parents, but she always knew that when she turned nineteen, the queen’s guard would come to take her to the Keep to become the new queen of the Tearling. What she didn’t know was how devastated and corrupt the country had become, and Barty and Carlin had certainly never given her a clue.

Now her nineteenth birthday has passed, and Kelsea’s uncle is perfectly happy reigning as regent. Furthermore, the Mort witch queen in the next kingdom is ready to use all her evil powers to keep the true queen from reaching the capital city. Even the guards sent to protect her on the trip are not too sure of their loyalties. It will be a miracle if she makes it alive. Fortunately, Kelsea has friends she’s never known.

At first, I was surprised that this novel was even published because of the striking similarities to Rae Carson’s “Girl of Fire and Thorns” trilogy, although Queen of the Tearling is an adult novel. They both portray a plain, hefty heroine, a strong young woman who becomes queen at an early age, a gruff, older guard to protect her, and even a jewel that glows. Not that I’m complaining, of course. I really loved them both, and the “Fire and Thorns” trilogy is, sadly, finished. However, as the novel continues, Kelsea’s story grows beyond “Fire and Thorns” in terms of politics and government. Johansen does have a political agenda that gets a bit heavy at times, but the reader can overlook it for all of the intrigue, adventure, and even a hint of a romance. There are clues in this medieval-sounding setting that there once was a country called the United States. Fortunately, this debut is the first of a series, so eventually we will all get to find out who her father is. Oh, I hope it’s not who I think it may be.

This one is not for the kiddos. Some of the descriptions of twisted evil are disturbing. The movie rights have already been sold—even before publication!—and Emma Watson is slated to play Kelsea, because she’s so plain and chubby, I suppose. Highly recommended for those of you who, like me, are epic fantasy fans. Available July 8th.

Disclaimer: I read an advance reader copy of this book. Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not reflect those of my employer or anyone else.

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