Kelsea Glynn is the sole heir to the throne of Tearling but has been raised in secret by foster parents after her mother – Queen Elyssa, as vain as she was stupid – was murdered for ruining her kingdom. For 18 years, the Tearling has been ruled by Kelsea’s uncle in the role of Regent however he is but the debauched puppet of the Red Queen, the sorceress-tyrant of neighbouring realm of Mortmesme. On Kelsea’s 19th birthday, the tattered remnants of her mother’s guard – each pledged to defend the queen to the death – arrive to bring this most un-regal young woman out of hiding…
And so begins her journey back to her kingdom’s heart, to claim the throne, earn the loyalty of her people, overturn her mother’s legacy and redeem the Tearling from the forces of corruption and dark magic that are threatening to destroy it. But Kelsea’s story is not just about her learning the true nature of her inheritance – it’s about a heroine who must learn to acknowledge and live with the realities of coming of age in all its insecurities and attractions, alongside the ethical dilemmas of ruling justly and fairly while simply trying to stay alive…
I picked this up because the book has been in the media a lot lately; Emma Watson couldn’t put it down and now it’s being turned into a movie with Emma as producer and actress. I did enjoy it, to the point where I read it in a couple of days and was anxious to see what happened next. However, the novel is setting up a lot for the sequel and I felt that at times, the story moved a little too slowly. Kelsea didn’t actually reach her keep until about 1/3 of the way through the novel, and the Red Queen (the antagonist of the trilogy) isn’t featured in the novel much.
It’s quite clear that some of the author’s thoughts are coming into the story. I’m guessing that Erika is an avid reader of fantasy. Kelsea is the new Queen of the Tearling, and yet she spends a lot of time trying to build a library in her keep? It seems a little unrealistic that one of her first concerns would be this. Also, the setting is a little strange and conflicting. It’s set in the future (you won’t think this when reading it), but has a medieval feel to it. And then Kelsea talks about how much she loves Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. I always try to avoid naming popular books/movies/people etc in novels because it time stamps your book and people reading it in ten years might not relate to it. Kelsea’s love of Lord of the Rings felt strange to me – it jolts the piece and disturbs the setting. It no longer felt like a fantasy tale.
I think the second and third book in the series will be better than the first now that the world and societal relations have been set up. If it weren’t for Emma Watson, I doubt this book would be as popular as it has become.
My Score: 7/10
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