Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Invasion Of The Tearling, by Erika Johansen - book review

Title: The Invasion Of The Tearling
Author: Erika Johansen
Publication date: June 2015
Publisher: Transworld (UK)/ Harper (USA)
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Description: With each passing day, Kelsea Glynn is growing into her new responsibilities as Queen of the Tearling. By stopping the shipments of slaves to the neighbouring kingdom of Mortmesne, she crossed the Red Queen, a brutal ruler whose power derives from dark magic, who is sending her fearsome army into the Tearling to take what is hers. And nothing can stop the invasion.

But as the Mort army draws ever closer, Kelsea develops a mysterious connection to a time before the Crossing, and she finds herself relying on a strange and possibly dangerous ally: a woman named Lily, fighting for her life in a world where being female can feel like a crime. The fate of the Tearling – and that of Kelsea’s own soul – may rest with Lily and her story, but Kelsea may not have enough time to find out.

My thoughts: I love this one! Great character development, realistic leadership and a fresh way of looking at 'world after the fall of technology/rise again of magic' idea made it one of my favourite reads of the year so far.

In this book, Kelsea has settled in to the role of being queen but she still faces plenty of challenges. So often in fantasy novels, the prodigal young ruler takes the throne and immediately starts dispensing good advice and fair judgements, and is loved by all the kingdom. Kelsea is indeed gaining a reputation as a fair queen, but the decisions she makes and the way she handles things are often met with disappointment or alarm by her friends and advisors. She isn't the most tactful person sometimes. This book really looks at the price of doing what is right and the political ramifications for Kelsea and the Tearling because of what she has done and what she does in this book. People make mistakes and I think Erica Johansen tackles Kelsea's development very well. She's learning to do some things well, but there were points in the book where I was putting my head in my hand wishing she hadn't just said something. If this book held consequences from what happened in The Queen Of The Tearling, I expect book three will also show what has happened because of several small rulings taken in this one.

In the first book, there were hints about the history of the Tearling and it's founding. People talk about 'The Crossing' from the old world and that many things were lost in that Crossing. In Invasion Of The Tearling, readers get to learn more about what happened. I knew as soon as I read it that some people were going to be... shall we say... upset, because of how it's done. With her magic, Kelsea can see back in time into the mind of a Pre-Crossing woman called Lily. Lily lives in our world, in roughly the 2070s in the USA. So of course there is a lot of technology, cars, guns, security. (A lot of security - Lily's world and life are not pleasant ones.) It's a big juxtaposition between Kelsea's world with it's limited technology, building tools, and medical knowledge to Lily's world of modern conveniences and governmental invasions of privacy. I found it really interesting and I don't think it was a big deal, but I'm sure some readers will have issues about the contrast. I do have to say, that while it was really interesting to see the history of the Tearling and the reasons for it's foundation and some of why it is the way it is, with no technology, I'm not entirely sure why there was so much about it - I'm not sure about it's purpose in the story. My guess is that in book three, something that Kelsea has seen in the flashbacks will be very important and I'm looking forward to seeing things tie together a bit more.

I loved getting to know some characters a bit better in this book. It really rounds out the world and shows the positive changes in the castle and the country since Kelsea has taken command. I'm really excited to see how characters like Glee and her sister who has joined the palace guard tie in with the bigger picture of the story. They, and other people you see more of in this book, like Pen and Mace, already have clear important roles in the story but I feel like they are going to have some staring moments in book three.

Overall, I absolutely loved this story. I read it over just a couple of days, I could barely put it down - I just had to know what happened next! Lily's story was just as gripping, and for me a lot scarier, than Kelsea's, and I enjoyed seeing Erika Johansen weave the two of them together. I adore the character development in this book, the changes in Kelsea were so well done and believable. She's growing up and adapting to leadership at a realistic pace, making the mistakes you would expect for a young woman and a new ruler. I really can't wait for book three. I'm giving The Invasion Of The Tearling 9 out of 10 stars.

Let me know if you've read this one because I would love to talk about it with people!



Anonymous said...

I've put the first one on my list! :)

whispering words on September 7, 2015 at 4:55 AM said...

I really enjoyed this book - I thought the way the two stories were woven so cleverly together was really well done :) Great review!

Ailsa on September 9, 2015 at 12:39 PM said...

Whispering Words - thanks! I really liked having the two stories. I hope there's more about Lily & the early days of the Tearling in book 3.

Sarah - it's good stuff :) It doesn't hand the world building to you on a plate, saying "I'm Kelsea and I live here and xyz is the history of the kingdom" - you have to piece together what's going on, which I liked, it was much more believable than some stories, I thought.

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