I am still really sick, so this review is a bit out of sorts BUT it’s really important to me because I did not expect to love this book as much as I did. I didn’t like the romantic plot line I thought was coming, but the emotional weight of the entire family dynamic made it a love and must read for me!
Worth It Wednesdays is a weekly post where I feature my favorite YA titles. Find out more about it here!
Title: The Queen of the Tearling
Author: Erika Johansen
Goodreads Description: 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.
Why it’s worth it: First off, I love the murky area of genre that this novel fits into. Is it YA? Is it not? How do you decide what’s YA? Because if you go by age of character, it is. If you go by writing style … maybe it isn’t? I’m not the biggest fan of high fantasy. I usually get bored.However, this included all the things that I love about high fantasy while keeping the action moving and not bogging down the paragraphs with unnecessary genealogies or something. When I tried to convince Michaela to read this in a 30 Seconds to Disagree video, this was one of my key points.
Secondly, I don’t often identify personally with many characters. I like a lot of characters and want to be my friend, but I don’t often read a character and think “that could be me!” The last time was Hermione. However, with Kelsea, I got that sense again. She REALLY is unprepared to be queen, and she has a temper problem that leaves her flailing. She tries so hard to do the queen thing right, but she doesn’t always succeed. She has body issues. She likes books. Watching her grow just over the course of the first book was amazing, and I came to absolutely love her.
Actually, great cast of characters all around. There were so many people with in-depth quirks and characterization that I liked when they were on screen. Even the “Evil Queen” gets to a point where you wonder just how much more there is to her than her “evilness.”
The setting is weird as all get out, especially considering the high fantasy vibe, because I guess technically it’s also dystopian? It’s weird, and it only gets weirder in the second book–and I like that. It’s not your typical Tolkien-esque fantasy world, and it opens up new spaces to think about. In the Drunk Book Club episode we did on this book, this was a point of contention, but I still think it’s cool.
I think the whole thing is cool. And so does Emma Watson, by the way. She’s making this book into a movie!
Read it if you’re looking for: strong female characters, high fantasy that won’t put you to sleep, strong cast of characters, interesting world building, believable teenage queen, action, adventure, magic, books without romance
This week’s Betwixt content comes in the form of tags! This is my version of the Ruler of Books Tag, originally created by Ariel Bissett, and Michaela’s is coming later today. Once again, apologies for being super sick during filming, and I’m not quite on the mend yet anyways, but! That doesn’t change a thing about my devotion.😛
Posts mentioned in video:
I promised you guys this video in my A Court of Mist and Fury review last week, and I actually did it! This is a really important video to me, actually, because I feel so strongly about how powerful and important the relationships in ACoMaF are–and there is no love triangle here. Fair warning, this is NOT a spoiler free video! My review is, but this is not. You’ve been warned.
Michaela totally had this video on time this week, guys. I just didn’t post it. I graduated yesterday and also came back home, so I’ve been all over the place this weekend. However, here it is for the blog, finally!
- Gretchen’s Review of A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
- Michaela’s Monday Musing on How to Review a Book in Translation
This review has been almost a year in the making, but it’s finally happening! After how much I didn’t really like Kelly Link when Bibliomancy did her Magic for Beginners collection, I’m upset about how much I liked this collection. Shhh, don’t tell Taylor.
Well. Here we are. The last Thesis Thursday post. Last Wednesday, I successfully defended my 84 page behemoth that had 7 pages of work cited, single spaced. The only thing I have left to do is get it bound and submit a copy to the English Department. My panel has already decided that I get English Honors, so there is no stress left. Just the finished project.
Chapter One, which took up all of last semester, was the real, serious English-y investigation. I read five YA female assassin novels and talked about how YA literature is either letting girls be their real, strong selves or … not. Mostly it was not. Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass remained my shining centerpiece, but … well. Graceling by Kristin Cashore actually sort of held up, but Arwen Elys Dayton’s Seeker, Bridget Zinn’s Poison and RL LaFevers’ Grave Mercy did not. All the links I just inserted are to my reviews or re-reviews of those books. Mostly, I ended up talking about how YA tropes end up promising strong female characters and then don’t give us that–and that makes me angry.
Chapter Two y’all saw some of, but that was the hardest chapter to write. I was talking about the commodification of YA book covers, but my original thesis didn’t hold up. I ended up needing a lot more quantitative research than I expected, and I had to redo my entire thesis statement. In the end, what I ended up saying is that the YA book cover industry looks a lot more diverse than it used to, but only for books that can pay for good cover art. Everything else is still blase look-alike kind of stuff. I actually did a video summarizing some of my research!
Chapter Three was the one that made me REALLY angry. I even posted a video about how it almost got me to stop blogging for like 30 seconds. It was all about how the publishing industry uses the free labor of teens to get their marketing data, but how a lot of the really GOOD data is ignored for information about what sells–like love triangles. It was all stuff I knew, really, but seeing it proven was just … wow. It was worse than I thought, I guess.
At my defense, my advisor–who’s been with me through all four years of college–got kind of nostalgic about all that time she’s known me, and now seeing this project come to fruition. She knows better than almost everyone else how much time and energy I put into my study and love of YA, and how much this project really means to me. It isn’t just a research project. It’s the culmination of years of my life spent blogging and reading, and a deep love of YA literature that is coupled with a serious desire for improvement within the genre. I guess, in a way, I hadn’t thought about this as the project I’ve been working on for all those years. This was just, you know, this year. But … she’s right. It never was. This is my heart and soul on these pages.
And now it’s done. Well, the paper anyways. I’m far from done. This project has shown me that this kind of research–in YA, on YA–is what I really want to do. I want to live this kind of work. Yeah, I’m going to Korea for a year, but this is the end goal. I want to go to grad school and do an even better version of this project. I want to say something that someone is going to listen to. This isn’t the end. It’s just the beginning.