Author: Erika Johansen
Book: The Queen of the Tearling
Published: July 2014
Publisher: Harper Collins
Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn was only a baby when she was sent to be raised by two strangers for her own safety. She was raised in exile, away from the intrigues of court, away from her pretty, vain mother, and away from the powers that would smother her in her cradle before she grew into a threat. On her nineteenth birthday, Kelsea finds a cadre of knights have come to escort her back to Tear’s capital to ascend the throne. The journey isn’t easy as magic and deadly assassins dog her trail.
The journey, however, is the easy part. Upon entering her capital, she finds she has internal enemies that fear the changes she represents, and a foreign empire ruled by a deadly Red Queen that demands tribute of slaves, chosen by lottery. As she sets out to break her kingdom’s shackles, she must seek allies and discover her enemies within her own kingdom. She also has the Tearling sapphire, a jewel of great magic power that she must learn to use if she is to survive the coming conflict with the Red Queen.
Queen of the Tearling is Erika Johansen’s debut novel. It is written as a coming of age story. Kelsea comes to her throne feeling very insecure. It seems to be a position that she grows into. This is less action and adventure, and more a story of intrigues that are common in tales that are in the political arena. Kelsea herself is a sympathetic character. Erika Johansen has taken time to develop her characters, though not at the expense of story telling. We meet the competent Queen’s Guards, including her dedicated captain, Lazarus. A master of thieves known only as the Fetch. A gate guard who is sucked into a plot against her, about which he has deep misgivings. We also meet the Red Queen, a woman who seems to have it all but with her own deep insecurities and not entirely in control of her own destiny.
The author kept drawing attention to the fact the Kelsea was rather plain looking, which I think was unnecessary. It would have been better to mention it once and let the audience be drawn to that core of inner strength. The pacing was a little slow, and I could not quite call it a page turner. However, Erika Johansen’s writing style shows promise, and the book is still quite enjoyable.