*Review Copy Provided
I am so pleased to once again be participating in a TLC Book Tour. This one is for very special title, that I think is poised to become the next big fantasy series. It hasn't even hit the shelves yet, but it's already set to be adapted into a movie, in a version that will reunite Emma Watson with Harry Potter producer David Heyman, no less! The Queen of the Tearling has all the elements of a page turner: a young woman in peril, an evil sorceress, a mysterious past, betrayal, seemingly insurmountable challenges, an unspeakable bargain, and magic.
Magic, adventure, mystery, and romance combine in this epic debut in which a young princess must reclaim her dead mother’s throne, learn to be a ruler—and defeat the Red Queen, a powerful and malevolent sorceress determined to destroy her.
On her nineteenth birthday, Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, raised in exile, sets out on a perilous journey back to the castle of her birth to ascend her rightful throne. Plain and serious, a girl who loves books and learning, Kelsea bears little resemblance to her mother, the vain and frivolous Queen Elyssa. But though she may be inexperienced and sheltered, Kelsea is not defenseless: Around her neck hangs the Tearling sapphire, a jewel of immense magical power; and accompanying her is the Queen’s Guard, a cadre of brave knights led by the enigmatic and dedicated Lazarus. Kelsea will need them all to survive a cabal of enemies who will use every weapon—from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic—to prevent her from wearing the crown.
Despite her royal blood, Kelsea feels like nothing so much as an insecure girl, a child called upon to lead a people and a kingdom about which she knows almost nothing. But what she discovers in the capital will change everything, confronting her with horrors she never imagined. An act of singular daring will throw Kelsea’s kingdom into tumult, unleashing the vengeance of the tyrannical ruler of neighboring Mortmesne: the Red Queen, a sorceress possessed of the darkest magic. Now Kelsea will begin to discover whom among the servants, aristocracy, and her own guard she can trust.
But the quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun—a wondrous journey of self-discovery and a trial by fire that will make her a legend . . . if she can survive.
This highly anticipated novel is worth the hype. Author Erika Johansen deftly conveys the sense of urgency, fear, and tension felt by her characters right from the start. I found myself feeling stressed as Princess Kelsea travels in secret with her band of Queen's Guards to the capital of Tear, shocked along with her when she first sees the lottery her people must endure each month, and mystified as we're slowly introduced to the horror that is the Red Queen. It's a well paced story that leaves the reader wanting more, that answers each question with several more, and draws you further into Johansen's richly layered tale.
In some respects The Queen of the Tearling is a coming of age story. Readers join the Princess as she begins to unravel the story of her past, learns how to rule, and unlocks the magic of the Tear Sapphire. Ruling seems almost like an impossible task. She is faced with a poverty and a poor economy, a county with weak resources and an even weaker Regent in the form of her uncle.
It is refreshing to find a strong female protagonist at the center of all this, and one that isn't waiting to be rescued. While she does have help, sometimes from unexpected sources, Princess Kelsea remains firmly in charge. She's no waif either, nor the typical flawless beauty. She must go from secluded country girl to ruler, and figure out how to save her people from the powerful Queen of the Mortmesne.
The Red Queen presents several mysteries. Who is she? How has she managed to rule for so long? What is the source of her dark magic? She is a dark and enigmatic woman, one that we have only begun to learn about. But she's far from the only one with a past we've yet to uncover. It seems like all of Johansen's characters have their own narrative, one that we've only begun to delve into. This is only the start of the series and The Queen of the Tearling provides more than enough intrigue, excitement, and suspense to this avid reader already looking forward to the stage of Princess Kelsea's story.
List Price: $26.99
Hardcover: 446 Pages
Publisher: Harper (July 8, 2014)
Available at local bookstores next month, as well as these retailers:
Barnes & Noble
TLC Book Tours. For the full schedule see this post.