When I got this book for review, I realized two things:
- This book is not yet out for general reading. Considering the hype over this book on the blogosphere, I somehow thought this was a book that was already published. Imagine my childish pleasure when I found out I am actually an early reviewer (I rarely get books to review in advance of publishing!).
- My joy doubled when I realized that my copy was an autographed copy. Both I and Shweta from Literary Grand Rounds put up instapics showing off the signature. Yeah, childish I guess, but that’s how we are 😉 .
You can see a rather blurry shot of the autograph on my Instagram feed.
So What’s the Book About?
Kelsea Raleigh is a sheltered 19-year old living in the woods. She’s no regular every day girl though. She is a princess who has been fostered away so that she can be brought up safely far away from the intrigues and dangers of the palace (or The Keep as it is called in the book).
However, she can’t be squirreled away forever and soon it is time for her to return to The Keep, take up the Queendom of the Tearling, and face all the attending dangers. Very soon, it becomes clear that she has inherited a bankrupt kingdom on the verge of collapse. Kelsea has to now fight for the happiness and freedom of her people against a really deadly enemy.
This book is the first book of a proposed trilogy.
What I Like About the Book
This is a real easy reading book. If you are a fan of Fantasy or YA, you will definitely love this book. The writing is good (not great but good), the story moves at a fast clip, and there is enough tension and plotting in this book to keep me reading late into the night.
It’s also one of those fairly universally appealing books as it ticks a lot of genre boxes – Fantasy, Dystopia, YA all easily, so there is definitely a little something for everyone.
Kelsea the Queen is also great. She’s a serious queen who really wants the best for her kingdom while at the same time being a young girl who frets about her looks and looks for possibilities in love with men she meets, even if they are not the most suitable for someone of her position.
What Confused Me About the Book
The world-building is slightly off. The book reads like a regular Fantasy book with people traveling on horses, there’s no industrialization, and there is a whole lot of magic. Regular fare if you are a Fantasy reader but something seems off with frequent references to events called The Crossing and The Landing, which leads the reader to understand that this is not a regular Fantasy setting.
And then there is an awkward reference to J.K.Rowling to drill it through into our thick skulls that this is not a Fantasy novel, but some time in the far future. According to the story premise, human beings have moved from America and Europe to found a new Utopia in Tearling and other kingdoms surrounding it. However they have pretty much lost all scientific and technological knowledge and are living just like people lived in the dark ages. Except that there is a sudden abrupt reference to plastic surgery. Now you get where I am coming from, right? Magic and plastic surgery don’t somehow fit into the same book. Consequently, this book left me a little unsettled with regards to where this story is set in place and time.
However these issues don’t bother me too much when the story is this gripping. I suppose things will be better fleshed out and explained in the second and third books.
Also the absence of any kind of map showing the kingdom is a real bummer. You all know how much I love maps. And this is a Fantasy book, with mentions of all kinds of places. I need a map to figure it all out. Hopefully the map is missing in the early reviewer copies only.
It’s strange that the book is not yet out, but there’s already a movie in the works. All I can think is that the author Erika Johansen must either have a very good agent, or that the story turns absolutely mind-blowing in the second and third books.
The star of the movie is Emma Watson, which is rather uninspired Hollywood casting I think. The protagonist Kelsey Raleigh is plain, overweight, and with a round face. It’s not like her appearance is mentioned only once in the book. Throughout the novel, her plainness is emphasized. And then there is Emma Watson looking positively glowing in the picture below. Oh, well! That’s how it goes in Hollywood, I suppose.
Huge thanks to Penguin Random House for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
You can also pre-order a copy of this book from Amazon