The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

After 6 months, I’ve finally found a novel worthy of 5 stars. It took me that long to finally get out of the dreaded reading slump. It should’ve been obvious though, because one of the options to get out of the slump is to go back to your roots. My roots being Fantasy. I shouldn’t have looked elsewhere.

There is a bit of a story when it comes to why I bought and eventually read this novel. Let me try to keep things short though so that I can jump in to the review.

I was having a normal day, browsing through Goodreads, when I first stumbled upon this novel. A friend of mine wrote a review of it, giving it a 1-star rating. Every time one of my friends gives a 1-star rating, I instantly read the review and view the summary of the novel. It’s always intriguing as to why a person hated a novel so much. Some of my friends were enraged because people were comparing this to Game of Thrones and The Hunger Games. I myself hate those novel comparisons, unless they’re spot-on in terms of similarities. I considered their reviews, I stayed away from this, but every time I visited my local bookstore the novel was always on the featured shelf. It was tempting, so I read the description on the back. I liked what I read, but the negative reviews creeped back in my mind, and I decided to put the book back on the shelf. This went on for months, but eventually I gave in. I bought the book, and it was the best decision I’ve ever made.

Kelsea Raleigh has been hiding her whole life, but on her nineteenth birthday, it was finally her time to claim her rightful place as The Queen of the Tearling. Her journey will not be easy, as there are aspiring people who wants nothing but to see her dead. Her uncle and The Red Queen wants her dead the most. She will need to learn to become a queen, and it’s as complicated as it sounds. Being a queen is not merely ruling the people who is in her command, but rather it’s about making the right decisions, sacrifice, combat, politics, tactics, having to deal with an absurd amount of betrayals, to name a few.

I’m always up for an epic adventure, and the Fantasy genre is most of the time fulfilling of that yearning. Aside from a good plot, the characters in a fantasy novel must not only be interesting, but also fully-developed in the end. I can consider Kelsea as a character who fully-developed in the end of this first novel. She is a coward in the beginning of the novel, but as the novel goes on, she learns what it truly means to become a queen, or rather, a True Queen. I like reading about characters who are weak in the beginning, but ends up becoming powerful in the end, but written proficiently. What I mean is, don’t force your character to develop just for the sake of presenting a “powerful” character in the end, because it will always turn out bad. The author managed to create a genuine powerful character in this novel. It took her the whole novel to fully develop Kelsea, and that’s how things should be.

Supporting characters are just as important in fantasy novels, and Mace (Lazarus) is probably one of the best characters written. I liked his role in the novel. He wasn’t dull in any aspect, and he helped the character of Kelsea to develop. Mace is a man of mystery, there is nothing much to say about him, but he did some amazing things for the queen. I’m hoping to read more about him in the next novel.

The Red Queen is the main villain in this novel. I liked the way the author wrote her character. She appears malevolent in front of the crowd, but she has dark secrets of her own, and no one knows about them. She’s not this perfect villain who is so powerful that the character ends up becoming corny in the end. She has her flaws, and it’s a joyride to read about her struggles. It’s quite obvious that she will have a huge role in the next novel, I’m just hoping she made the right choice.

The plot has a lot of plot twists and interesting events. I’m honestly not sure why this is considered as Young-Adult, but it’s more of Adult-Fantasy for me. The novel contains graphic violence, profanity, and other things that young-adults seem to hate. I get it, you didn’t ask for a gritty and inhumane novel, but it wasn’t written for your age anyway. Another thing, if the author wrote an inhumane novel, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are inhumane in nature. It will almost all the time be for the plot and character development.

I really enjoyed everything that happened in the novel. I liked her decisions, and also the Mace’s. Every decision they made contributed to the story development. I don’t want to spoil anything, but you will understand what I’m talking about if you read this.

Another thing, I really wanted the characters I was rooting for to have their way. Just like in George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, I was rooting for certain characters to live, and also certain characters to die. It was no different for A Queen of Tearling. There were a few who I wanted to succeed, and also a few who I wanted to fail and be tormented. It’s always important to have strong characters, and this novel has that.

I respectfully agree with the 1-star review of my friends. I understand why they hated this novel so much. It’s just that I didn’t see their problems as problems of my own, and I don’t see what’s wrong with that. People have different opinions, and different novels will cater to the needs of different people. I do have a lot of similar opinions with them though in other novels, but this time it just didn’t match. I’m not going to bash their review, just like I’m sure they won’t bash mine. It’s almost 2016 people, learn to respect the opinion of other people.

5/5 stars. One of the best reads I’ve had for 2015. It’s always the unexpected ones that make a huge impact on me. I can’t wait to read the sequel. I bought the sequel when I was only 50 pages in with this one, but I knew greatness awaits. I’m really hoping the second novel would be just as good as this, if not better.


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