The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
Read Jan 29 – Mar 28
Going into this book, I expected a semi-generic YA fantasy, but that was okay since that’s what I was in the mood for. The first thing I realized that this is not YA, not by a long shot. The second thing I realized was that this main character was going to make or break this story for me.
So yes, this is definitely an adult fantasy. I didn’t know this going into it, and honestly I didn’t realize it wasn’t YA for a good hundred pages or so until a particular scene happened and my eyebrows shot up and disappeared into my hairline. It reads just like one though, which is nice – I tend to like the pacing of YA novels. But holy cow, some of the content of this book. Sex, violence, drug use. I was not expecting it at all. So once I realized that this was a fantasy book with more mature themes, I quickly adjusted and found myself rather enjoying it.
The world this book is set in is really, really cool. It’s in a regressed society on Earth where a new continent has popped out of the ocean. The book takes places hundreds of years after this emergence and the Great Crossing, the time where the Americas and several other countries crossed over and came to settle it. There are hints throughout the book that the rest of the world is no longer functioning or at least is out of contact, and I feel like this might be explored more in the future – I sure hope it is, at least. And to top it off, there appears to be a magic element present on this continent that didn’t exist on the rest of the planet, giving the world an added layer of depth and the genre of ‘fantasy’ instead of just a regressed society novel.
I think one of my favorite parts of the setting were the books. The main character is a bit of a book lover and since The Crossing, there are only a limited number of books existing still. “The volumes of Rowling” were mentioned. It was great. xD
The plot I found good but slightly cliched. It’s about a girl who was hidden away but is the true queen of her kingdom. So typical ‘from rags to power’ trope and ‘suddenly I command an army’ trope. While I feel like I’ve read the plot before, it didn’t detract much from my enjoyment of the thing. I just hope it breaks away from the mold a bit in the next novel. The writing helped this storyline a lot. During the violent scenes, it was gritty. During the action scenes, it was heart-racing. The author can definitely write to her scene, it was great.
The only issue I had with this book was the main character. I didn’t dislike her – not by a long shot, but sometimes I felt she was a little unbelievable, if that makes sense. She was raised in the woods with only two other people to socialize with for years, yet she seems to be perfectly normal. Nothing seems to be off. Like, if you’re raised in seclusion like that, you would definitely be missing some social skills, let alone world views. The author mentioned that she read a lot and seemed to imply that somehow that made up for not going through social situations like any human would, but I found it hard to buy. That, and she seemed to be arrogant at times and then was applauded for it. That though is just my personal tastes – I tend not to care for arrogant characters. She kept it mostly in check though, so it didn’t bother me too much. But yeah, dem social skillz, man. She’s better adjusted than I am for goodness sake.
Overall, this was a really good read and the writing was rather gripping. I’m eagerly awaiting the second book in the series and will hopefully devour it just as avidly as I did the first one.
Rating: 4/5 stars