I don’t usually finish a book and then immediately pick up the sequel. Now usually that’s because I don’t yet own the sequel but also I tend to want a change of pace genre-wise. But in the case of The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen, I had to know what happened next. Fortunately, I had the first two books in the series already on my kindle (and I’m currently kicking myself for not picking up the third when I had the chance). The Tearling series is a fast paced, genre bending work of fiction that I can’t wait to finish.
Princess Kelsea Raleigh has been raised in exile by her foster parents. On her nineteenth birthday, her personal guard arrives to bring her to the royal Keep so that she can ascend to the throne. Unfortunately the kingdom Kelsea is inheriting is in shambles, beholden to the seemingly immortal Red Queen in the neighboring kingdom of Mortmesne. Kelsea has been told little of the state of her kingdom or her mother who sent her away as a baby before she arrives in the capital and she immediately upsets the order of things. In addition, most of the people in power would like to see her dead before she is even crowned.
Kelsea is no Mary Sue character. She is plain and a little frumpy. She is smart, but no genius. She is however well read and highly moral thanks to her upbringing. It is this above all that drives Kelsea through this first book in the series. Her actions make her some powerful enemies and could spell disaster for everyone in her kingdom but she must act against the evil that has a grip on her land. Ultimately, Kelsea must use her education and her moral code to prove to those around her that she is a better ruler than those that have been in power.
This book is a mashup of both fantasy and, as you discover when you read dystopian future fiction. Although not everything is explained in the first book, The Tearling is located on Earth, but not anywhere we have seen before. Part of the reason to keep reading is not just to find out what will happen but what *has* happened. I can’t recommend this book enough.