The cover of this book is pretty much amazing. And I loved the premise. A lot of the reviews on Goodreads have been bipolar, and while I don’t think the book is horrible, I can see that it isn’t perfect. Here are my thoughts on the characters and the world. Hopefully, this will let you see both sides. 😀
Kelsea Raleigh has been in hiding for eighteen years of her life. She lives under the care of the elderly Barty and Carlin, who swore to protect her when her mother, the late Queen Elyssa, sent her into hiding after her birth. Kelsea has enjoyed a quiet life, without any imminent danger. But on her nineteenth birthday, the Queen’s Guard arrives, ready to whisk Kelsea off to the Keep, to become the Queen—if she can make it there alive. For her uncle, the Regent, in control of the kingdom since Queen Elyssa’s death, wants to keep his life of luxury—and that might mean getting rid of Kelsea Raleigh. And, even worse, the Queen’s Guard are still keeping secrets from Kelsea. But even if Kelsea can make it to the throne, there lies the ever-present threat from Mortesme, the neighboring kingdom, and their evil Red Queen.
Source: review copy from HarperCollins (thank you!)
The Queen’s Guard
Most of the characters were the Queen’s Guard. Other than Pen and Mace, there were quite a few others, but they really weren’t major characters, and fell kind of flat. So for now, I’m only going to be going into Mace and Pen.
Mace. I think we all have to love Mace. More than Kelsea herself, I’d have to say. He’s dubbed basically everything that’s not tough and tactical a “dolls and dresses” moment, and he’s honestly a more complex character than Kelsea herself. I liked Kelsea, I really did, but she was very precise, she knew who she was and what she was doing, and she really did not have the same kind of depth Mace had. Plus, he was one constant character in a world where anybody and everybody could be an assassin trying to take Kelsea’s life. Plus, he’s one of the oldest and most trustworthy Queen’s Guard, and, like most of the other Guard, served Kelsea’s mother before they served her. Mace hides many secrets from Kelsea—who her father was, for one; there was no King married to Queen Elyssa.
Pen. Pen was one of my favorite characters because first of all, his name. Naming a character after a writing utensil (at least, that’s the first type of pen I thought of)? Just brilliant.
Mostly, though, he was one of the most relatable Queen’s Guard. While the others are all older men who served Kelsea’s mother, and are still hiding Elyssa’s secrets from Kelsea, Pen is much younger, and therefore never served Kelsea’s mother. While he may know the secrets from the other Queen’s Guard, he knows Kelsea’s mother just as well as Kelsea herself does—which is not at all. I also just liked Pen’s personality. He was calm and reasonable, and was capable of having conversations with Kelsea that were about things other than military tactics and formations for her safety.
And Then We Have…
Kelsea. We’ve got to like Kelsea, okay? She’s our main character. She’s just been thrust into this brand-new world; she’s never met anybody other than Barty and Carlin, who raised her… and then she finds out how little she knew about them, and, indeed, about anyone around her. We see Kelsea grow from a child who knows, essentially, textbook material, to a Queen who thinks on her feet and makes decisions that are war or peace for her country.
Arlen Thorne. While the Red Queen is supposedly the antagonist of the novel, I didn’t find any cause to hate her, or even be afraid of her. She is a slave driver, but then, so is Kelsea’s uncle, the Regent. Meanwhile, Thorne, who is basically behind all the horrifying and terrible things the Regent has been turning a blind eye to, is the one who we’re really afraid of. He works in the Black Market, and yet he’s a member of government. He’s clever and manipulative, and he can get away with anything. Ultimately, Thorne’s the real enemy in the book, not the Red Queen of Mortesme.
The Fetch. I ultimately didn’t understand the Fetch. He’s sort of a twisted Robin Hood, who steals from the rich, but doesn’t give to the poor. He is also very handsome, so Kelsea spends a lot of time thinking about him. He takes the precious magical sapphire that belongs to her, as the Queen, and says she’ll get it back when she’s earned it, but yet she doesn’t spend much time thinking about the sapphire, or when she’s going to get it back. Which I suppose adds to her being a teenage girl, but she does have a kingdom to run, and should be worried about her hereditary magical jewel.
The History. I actually loved the history of the world. The Americans and British joined together, and sent William Tear to a new place to form a world free of technology. While it was a perfect, socialistic country, it has slowly disintegrated into a feudal system, and now it’s utterly horrifying.
The Big Question. The big question throughout the book is “Who is Kelsea’s father?” For some reason, Mace and the other Queen’s Guard know who it is, but cannot tell Kelsea. I’m not sure why, other than because Queen Elyssa forbade them from telling Kelsea, but I’m not sure why she would do that. There are a lot of things that are weirdly kept secret. Carlin teachers Kelsea about the history of the Tear… except what’s going on in the kingdom right now and what occurred during Elyssa’s reign. Maybe it’s shocking, but Kelsea is going to be Queen. She can’t afford to be sheltered.
The Morals. Okay, I know you’re going “oh my goodness, morals?” but Kelsea has amazing morals for a nineteen-year-old. She abhors slavery, and she wins peoples’ allegiance by being kind and letting them choose whether they like her or not. This ultimately sets her apart from the Red Queen and the Regent, and makes her different from the villains and demoralized characters in the book.
My Rating: 2.5/5 Wagging Tails
The Queen of the Tearling is part of a series by Erika Johansen. The book’s movie rights have been bought by Warner Bros, and will star Emma Watson (who played the part of Hermione Granger) as Kelsea Raleigh.
Next up, I’ll be reviewing A Wolf Called Romeo, about a wolf who befriends the Alaskan community of Juneau. Also watch out for my review of Once We Were, the sequel to What’s Left of Me!