Kelsea Glynn is the sole heir to the throne of Tearling but has been raised in secret by foster parents after her mother – Queen Elyssa, as vain as she was stupid – was murdered for ruining her kingdom. For 18 years, the Tearling has been ruled by Kelsea’s uncle in the role of Regent however he is but the debauched puppet of the Red Queen, the sorceress-tyrant of neighbouring realm of Mortmesme. On Kelsea’s 19th birthday, the tattered remnants of her mother’s guard – each pledged to defend the queen to the death – arrive to bring this most un-regal young woman out of hiding…
And so begins her journey back to her kingdom’s heart, to claim the throne, earn the loyalty of her people, overturn her mother’s legacy and redeem the Tearling from the forces of corruption and dark magic that are threatening to destroy it. But Kelsea’s story is not just about her learning the true nature of her inheritance – it’s about a heroine who must learn to acknowledge and live with the realities of coming of age in all its insecurities and attractions, alongside the ethical dilemmas of ruling justly and fairly while simply trying to stay alive..
I’ll be honest, I had very low expectations for this book, partly because of the abundance of negative reviews this book has on Goodreads and partly because of Emma Watson’s apparent obsession with this book. Now that I have finally read it myself, I am pleasantly surprised: Queen of the Tearling is an intriguing, entertaining, well-written piece of fantasy and a classic example of why we should all read a book ourselves in order to form our own opinion instead of listening to what the mass people are saying. The characters were very interesting and well developed–Kelsea is by far one of my favorite female characters; she has her flaws like any nineteen-year-old but what sets her apart from others is her desire to constantly do better, which is extremely difficult to do in a kingdom broken beyond repair thanks to the mistakes of the rulers before her. I particularly loved her interactions with her Guards, and I loved the fact that every character in this book has a crucial role to play especially when it comes to Kelsea’s reign. It’s common sense that the success of a monarch’s reign not only depends on the monarch but also on the monarch’s own ministers, guards, rival countries and rebels as well, and we really get to see that here. We get to see how the actions of the people outside the Queen’s circle as well those inside her circle affected many important events in the book, which was very realistic.
I have to say a little bit about the romance, which was non-existent, and yet the very few hints we got were enough to have me giddy with excitement and craving more. I am glad the romance was extremely understated here because in this story it just wasn’t necessary.
So why such a low rating?
Well, I can’t quite rate this book higher than three stars because at the end of the day, this book’s selling point is that it is pure entertainment and does not really offer anything substantial for the reader to take away once they are done reading.
Now I understand that there are no written laws that state that every book must have a meaningful message that will help the readers grow as a person or at least think about important issues. However, when I compare the Queen of the Tearling to books like Red Queen or Flawed I can’t help but think of how while reading Red Queen and Flawed , my heart absolutely broke at the unfair treatment of Reds at the hands of the Silvers and the cruelty and mercilessness that arises in a society of people striving for perfection in all aspects. Both Red Queen and Flawed are highly entertaining books, but they both try to convey a bigger message that makes you think about the issues in our society.
It’s not as if the Queen of the Tearling did not have any opportunities to bring such matters into focus, and it’s not like the book did not try to talk about the cruelties of war, the selfishness of the rich and the helplessness of the poor, particularly the women and children. It’s just that the book failed to make me, the reader, feel anything more than slight pity when I read those scenes. Which is very unfortunate, because those were the reasons why our MC wanted to be a good queen so desperately. Those events were what contributed to her character development.
On top of that, the world building was very off-putting, especially in the beginning. The story takes place in a dystopian future where due to some sort of apocalyptic disaster the world reverts back to the medieval times, but there are still some remnants of modern technology (some that we haven’t yet discovered in the present)…and, then there’s…magic. Like, actual, blue sparks and all magic.
Yeah doesn’t make much sense does it?
I think the simplest way to sum up my biggest disappointment with Queen of the Tearling is by comparing this book to yet another series,The Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa--one of my all time favorite YA series, which also, like Queen of the Tearling, happens to be a purely entertainment book. However, even then, each of the Iron Fey books had made me extremely emotional–I was incredibly attached to each character, I wept when they were hurt and I actually rejoiced when they triumphed. Queen of the Tearling was woefully lacking that emotional factor–it was a good book that had me turning the pages but it wasn’t good enough for me to form any emotional attachment to the story or to its characters.
QOTD: Who are some of your favorite fictional king/queen/leader? I love hearing your thoughts so let me know in the comments below!