The Queen of the Tearling

*I’m going to do my best to avoid spoilers…so some of this may seem vague!*

“Even a book can be dangerous in the wrong hands, and when that happens, you blame the hands, but you also read the book.”


Synopsis: The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen takes place in the future after a mass migration of people to a newly founded utopia. When Kelsea Raleigh turns 19, she inherits the crown of the Tearling and the Queen’s Guard whisks her out of hiding, away to the heart of her kingdom. Her uncle, the kindom’s ruling Regent, is removed from the castle and Kelsea settles in to rule. From day one of her rule, Kelsea feels the threat of the Red Queen, the mysterious ruler of a neighboring kingdom, Mortmesne. Kelsea is tossed into the ring, forced to make impossible decisions, with a kingdom and a rambunctious group of guards to rule. Clouded in mystery, this book is the first installment of a new fantasy trilogy.

Feelings: I read a LOT of reviews before making the final decision to read this book. I’d heard through all things Internet that Emma Watson enjoyed this book and reportedly said she couldn’t put it down. Warner Bros has optioned the film and Emma Watson is set to both star in it and serve as Executive Producer. That was the final push I needed to pick this book up. A lot of people had problems with this story. And while I agree it wasn’t perfect, I really enjoyed it. Some reviews said the pacing was slow, but I didn’t feel that way. I thought it was entertaining, I loved a few of the characters, and I’m really interested to see how the story progresses.

I’ve seen people call this The Hunger Game of Thrones but that’s…no. Just no.

Issues: First of all…I don’t know how many times I said (out loud), “…what?” The time period of the novel reads as Medieval times – no technology, no medical advancements, castles, swords, and horses. Then about halfway through, it’s revealed that an event known as The Crossing happened 300 years before the story takes place, where people journeyed across a dangerous ocean towards a new utopia. The Harry Potter books are mentioned, along with The Hobbit…which threw me for a loop. There are still a lot of unanswered questions which will hopefully be answered in the next book.

Another issue I had was Kelsea. She was raised by an older couple in complete isolation out in the wilderness. Think Snow White here, ok? Then, a group of handsome soldiers come to escort her back to her castle and she can read their body language and facial expressions…she’s a people person! How’d that happen? How does she have people skills? Speaking of the Queen’s Guard…when they made camp they were drunk and loud, hanging out around a large fire and the queen was barely being guarded. Worst Queen’s Guard ever.

Issue #3 would be the Red Queen and the incredibly vulgar things that happened around her. It was like the tone of the book made a 180 when we were getting the Red Queen’s POV. On one hand, it showed how vastly different she was from Kelsea…but as a reader I hated it. There were many moments that seemed unnecessary when it came to language and vulgarity. It was like watching a show on HBO and I was not impressed. I’ve seen this book classified as Young Adult literature on a few reputable websites and let me tell you…it is NOT. This is an adult fantasy novel, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. There were a few things that happened or were spoken about that fit with raiding villages…but not all of it was necessary.

Characters: Favorite character? Pen. Why? Because I love him. I need no explanation. He and Kelsea better fall in love because plot.

Speaking of Kelsea, heck YES. After I got over her whole not-being-a-hermit thing, some serious girl power kicked in. She is bold and strong and PLAIN. I love a plain queen! Why do the heroines always have to be tall, thin, and beautiful? Kelsea turned that on its head. I loved that she struggled with her image and how people perceived her based on looks because that’s realistic! Women worry about that and Kelsea has made strives to overcome that, finding her own strength and gaining the respect of the men around her. 

Final thoughts: A couple of issues, but overall, I think this is a great start to a solid fantasy series. I think I enjoyed it more than the average reader. The second book is already out, and I’m definitely going to be reading it next! I’m rooting for Kelsea!

Again, I want to stress that this is an adult book for mature readers. I went into it expecting it to be YA fantasy, but it wasn’t. You must be at least “this” tall to read.

Pick this up if you liked:

Myrren’s Gift by Fiona McIntosh (I read this trilogy in high school and LOVED it…I was reminded of this book while reading.)

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson (I haven’t read this, but it seems like there are a lot of similarities)

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman (Medieval society, strong female lead)

Goodreads rating: 3.93/5 rating: 4.1/5

My rating: 4.25/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn


5 thoughts on “The Queen of the Tearling

  1. As a writer myself (writing my first novel that just so happens to be a fantasy) , I’m very interested in getting to the bottom of what makes an incredible book. I feel like I have an amazing plot, and I’ve developed the universe a lot, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on common pitfalls. I’ve followed, and would be honoured to hear your thoughts on some of my works on my blog (especially my novel prologue if you have time). Keep reading and have a good day 🙂


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