Audiobook Review: The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johanson

the-queen-of-tearlingSource: Library
Publisher: Harper Audio
Series: The Queen of the Tearling #1
Narrator: Katherine Kellgren
Edition: Audiobook 13 hours
Genre: New Adult, High Fantasy
Purchase: Amazon/ Barnes & Noble  / Book Depository *
*I receive a small monetary kickback from Amazon purchases
Rating: 4/5

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.

The Queen of the Tearling introduces readers to a world as fully imagined and terrifying as that of The Hunger Games, with characters as vivid and intriguing as those of The Game of Thrones, and a wholly original heroine. Combining thrilling action and twisting plot turns, it is a magnificent debut from the talented Erika Johansen

The Queen of the Tearling was one that I heard a lot of back and forth over. Some said it was full of info-dumps, others said it had awful world building, and then there were those who loved it. Honestly I had no intention of ever reading it…until it showed in my library’s digital stock and well…free books have a power over me. And I’m so glad I did!

The Queen of the Tearling has been labeled as young adult by many, but I find that it’s more of a New Adult age range. It pulls no punches and can be downright brutal, and there quite a few mentions of more mature content. As much as I hate when publishers reference other books in their summaries I would say the cross over of Hunger Games and Game of Thrones is fair, keeping in mind that it moves as quickly and ‘lightly’ as the Hunger Games  but it has the feel of the high fantasy intrigue and danger as Game of Thrones..I personally didn’t find there to be any info dumps that caused me boredom, and the weirdness of the origin of this world had pulled me in. It’s rare to find a high fantasy set in our world, so to speak, that comes AFTER our society. I will admit that it was slightly confusing trying to figure out the when and where, but in the end I feel confident that this is something we’ll get more of an answer for later as a few things were revealed a bit later in the book.

Kelsea is my sort of main character. She’s intelligent, independent (when it’s not a hinderance), and very strong willed. To top it off she has a bit of an anger issue and in the face of attraction she doesn’t get incredibly distracted and forget she’s in charge of a kingdom. I love that she adores learning, but isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty if she needs to. And kudos to the author for leaving out an overlaying romance! THANK YOU! Not everything needs stolen kisses and love confessions in the first book…if it comes later, that’s great but at least now I know Kelsea and I know about the men & women around her. The whole story around the Red Queen is one so full of mystery that I wished we had more pov sections from here. She’s a nasty piece of work, but her whole existence brings even more questions and I enjoyed seeing the characters try to tackle the fact that she is fearsome because she is seemingly ancient and yet constantly present and young.

The story itself had a slightly addicting quality. As the new world was constructed before me I found myself more intrigued and encouraged by the unanswered questions than frustrated, and I felt that had to do with the rather neat way we were given some of the information. Most of the book is centered around Kelsea, but on occasion we get to see the world from other people’s eyes including the Red Queen. In addition there are also little quotes and excerpts at the beginning of each chapter that come from history books set in this world, that also give you glimpses of the impact the events being spread out before you have later on in the worlds future. Plus there is the added bonus of who narrated this well written tome, Katherine Kellgren! Bow down to her book reading prowess. She has a rather soothing tone that she can change to different accents, different genders, and keep you absolutely enraptured with the story she’s telling. She could probably read me War and Peace and I would be hard pressed to pause it.

Overall I think this is not one to miss out on! As a fan of high fantasy I though this to be a true gem, and I can’t wait to see what the next book has in store.

4 stars

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4 Responses to Audiobook Review: The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johanson

  1. I am so happy you liked this book! I loved it and also found it addicting. It was one of those books that after I had finished, for a few days after, I would get happy thinking I still had it to read and then get deeply sad when I realized I had finished it. I have had Invasion of the Tearling from Edelweiss for quite awhile now, but quit reading it because it was killing me trying to piece meal it in between reading other review books that publish earlier. I think that after I finish Made You Up, I am going to sit down and marathon Invasion. It still makes me wonder why people latch onto thinking certain books are YA. It is almost like they automatically assume if it is popular it is YA. I was getting really angry with some bloggers who were recommending it to 12-14 year olds. Personally I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone under 17.

  2. I’ve certainly heard mixed reviews of this one, glad you picked it up Michelle! Kelsea sounds like a great main character, I like how she’s strong but she’s also flawed which makes us connect with her easier. The fantasy here sounds like it packs a punch as well. Lovely review!

  3. kelsea sounds like the type of main character that I could really enjoy as well

  4. gwenkate says:

    Katherine Kellgren is my idol! I listen to almost anything she narrates (my favorite: the 12-volume Bloody Jack series) — I’m so glad you liked her as well! I’m a little disappointed that she didn’t narrate the rest of the series, and I’m not entirely sure why each book is read by a different narrator…
    Thanks for sharing! ~Gwen

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