The Queen of the Tearling


The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

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.

The Movie

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.

Emma Watson is the Queen of the Tearling

Emma Watson is the Queen of the Tearling

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

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  • Crazy_uncle_Nicola.

    Funny my copy had a map’ but just of the Tearling. It doesn’t give any idea were it is.

    • Nishita

      @Crazy_uncle_Nicola. Mine was an early copy so I think that’s why the map wasn’t included in my copy. Good to know there was a map in other editions, I think it was really required. How did you like the book?

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  • Hmm… this sounds appealing for an easy read – but the world building might bother me. Might be a good book to read during a reading slump for me. That’s too bad about the casting not being true to the book – but like you said, that’s Hollywood.

    Also I *love* getting signed books, I’ve never gotten one when requesting books for review – but I do seek them out in other places. I have a whole planned series on it, but I’ve only published one post.

    • Nishita

      @aprilthesteadfastreader:disqus the best part? I didn’t realize it was a signed book until much later, I am currently reading Solo by William Boyd and that turned out to be signed too 🙂

      The world building seems off, but the pace of the story was good enough to carry me through this book, it now remains to see how books 2 and 3 go.

  • Wanton Ruminating

    Just wrote my review too. I loved the book. I agree that it is simplistic, but I was okay with that. And I thought the story never became a pain, which is always desirable. 🙂

    • Nishita

      @wantonruminating:disqus wow, just read your review. I need to take a closer look at that cover now 🙂

      • Wanton Ruminating

        Lol! Please do. As you are the queen of maps, I would have to be the queen of book cover designs 🙂
        Also, on a professional note, I wondered if you could help me find a graphic designer you know.. I will be really grateful if you could. ty

        • Nishita

          @wantonruminating:disqus you want someone to help you with creating graphics? Photoshop knowledge, or webpage design? I can check around if a friend of mine is interested in free-lancing.

          • Wanton Ruminating

            Hey Nish, It is website design for the new online mag I got a job with. It is a subscription based model and I need help with the design, the spam mail, the plugins, inn short everything! A freelancer is exactly what I am looking for, so plz if you know someone could you plz ask them to contact me at Thanks a ton for taking this request seriously!

  • Elizabeth

    I can understand the mixed feelings that you felt when you read this one…I enjoyed it very much, but then keeping a lot of expectations on the next 2 books..

    Yes, Emma Watson and Kelsea’s description in the book does not go together…She is way too cute in any state.

    • Nishita

      @Elizabeth exactly. The book is good, but now the series as a whole depends on where the author is going with the the story, and how this world is developed further.

      Yeah, somehow I keep visualizing Jennifer Lawrence in the role. I think though because she became so high-profile with Hunger Games, they might have looked to Emma Watson.


    Adding this book to my tbr list right now. Emma Watson is in the movie! I am definitely watching it.

    • Nishita I gather you’re a fan :).

      I think the timing for the movie announcement is really strange. Usually the movie comes out after all the books are out. Here, not even the first book is out.

      I suppose all the books are finished and they are going to publish them one by one in quick succession, or whatever.

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