The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

This is my review of the Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen. 

The book
The Queen of the Tearling is an epic fantasy book about queen Kelsea Raleigh Glynn. She has just turned 19, which means she’s now ready to ascend to the throne. Her mother died a while ago, but Kelsea is now of age, and can go on to be queen. She’s grown up in a cottage in the woods, with her foster parents, and learned history and languages, and how to be queen. Then her mother’s guard arrives, and take her to New London, the capital of Tear. There she learns that her mother wasn’t as awesome as she might have thought. She turns out to have been a pretty ineffectual queen, and she basically sold off her people to avoid war with a neighboring kingdom. Kelsea has to figure out how to rule and be queen and all that.

It was quite fun, I gave it 3.5 stars. It’s an okay fantasy novel.

I feel like the first 100 pages are a bit slow, which is okay, but it just took me a bit of time to get into it. But I don’t mind slow reads, it just took me a little longer than usual to get into the thing.

I thought the world building was quite impressive. So Tear is set in a future regressed world that is based on our world. So there are cultural references to our world. So Kelsea has read Harry Potter and the Hobbit, and the Grimm’s fairy tales, which I thought was interesting. But with that came something a bit weird. Which is that black people, or any people of color for that matter, are very uncommon. Which seems weird. Because the story is they came in a Crossing, over an ocean, and they settled Tear. And did they just not bring people of color? Or did they die on the way? Or did they settle somewhere else? It seems so weird, and unlikely, and it really annoyed me, because it made the people in the book who are people of color really exotic, and that’s a bit creepy.

I like Kelsea, I think she’s a very solid character. She’s 19, and she’s described as homely. She’s tall, and broad, and strong, and not very womanly, I guess, and not attractive. She’s also told constantly that she isn’t very attractive, so that’s helpful. It means she thinks about her looks a lot, and sort of obsesses over them, which I think makes her believable. She might be queen, but she’s still a 19-year-old girl. It also means that she has some prejudices against women who are beautiful. She seems to think that women who are beautiful don’t really have the brains, and when she is confronted with beautiful women who are also brilliant she gets surprised. She’s also quite good at checking herself. And realizing she might be wrong, and she needs to adjust her views.

Something else that irritated me a bit is her weird crush on the Fetch, who is a thief-king. Which, I understand that a 19-year-old who has lived in isolation suddenly meets a dashing thief gets a bit excited, but it seemed a little pointless, and too sudden. Isn’t she busy becoming queen and being annoyed with being kidnapped by some thief? It just bugged me, she has too much on her plate!

I liked the multiple perspective. It’s told mainly from Kelsea’s point of view, but it is also told from the point of view of her uncle, the former regent, the queen of Mort, the neighboring country, and a guard of the gate. So in order to avoid war with Mort Kelsea’s mother introduced a lottery where people are chosen each month to be sent as slaves to Mort. Kelsea ends this practice, which means that Mort will now wish to go to war, because you know, they want some slaves. So we also get to see the world from the queen’s point of view, and she’s some sort of witch, and she’s creepy, and has lived forever, and is sort of gross, so I enjoyed reading from her perspective. I like villains.


I liked it, I thought it was fun, it just had some flaws, and some things that were a bit… weird and problematic, so I hope that it’s explained in the next book, or at least it’s handled better. But it was fun.