Gwen & Kate's Library

Two sisters' reviews of Young Adult and Middle Grade books, inspired by their lovely library.

Gwen’s Thoughts on The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

With a cover as beautiful as this, an audiobook narrated by Katherine Kellgren, and an upcoming movie produced by and starring Emma Watson, The Queen of the Tearling was an automatic must-read for me.


Series: The Queen of the Tearling, Book 1 (Out of 7!)

Genres: Adult/Young Adult, High Fantasy

Format: Audiobook, narrated by Katherine Kellgren

Rating: 4.5 stars


Her throne awaits . . . if she can live long enough to take it.
It was on her nineteenth birthday that the soldiers came for Kelsea Glynn. They’d come to escort her back to the place of her birth – and to ensure she survives long enough to be able to take possession of what is rightfully hers.
But like many nineteen-year-olds, Kelsea is unruly, has high principles and believes she knows better than her elders. Unlike many nineteen-year-olds, she is about to inherit a kingdom that is on its knees – corrupt, debauched and dangerous.
Kelsea will either become the most fearsome ruler the kingdom has ever known . . . or be dead within the week.
Combining thrilling adventure and action, dark magic, mystery and romance, The Queen of the Tearling is the debut of a born storyteller blessed with a startling imagination.


With a cover as beautiful as this, an audiobook narrated by Katherine Kellgren, and an upcoming movie produced by and starring Emma Watson, The Queen of the Tearling was an automatic must-read for me.

I am super excited for the movie to come out (in a couple years, probably), especially starring my favorite actress Emma Watson. However, I assume it must also be based off other upcoming books in the 7-book series (The Invasion of the Tearling, book 2, comes out on June 9th, 2015), because very little happens in The Queen of the Tearling that is movie-worthy. Although the plot is very interesting, some parts very dark, and the characters are all fantastic and well-developed, it is not extremely action-filled. In addition, although this has been said many times before, I cannot picture someone as beautiful as Emma Watson playing the “plain” character of Kelsea Glynn.

Although this book is written very well, with engaging prose that is perfectly narrated by my favorite Katherine Kellgren (although unfortunately her skill with accents isn’t used quite enough for my taste), the idea behind the novel is not the most original. In fact, it reminds me a lot of other popular books and traditional fairy tales.

For example, most of The Queen of the Tearling revolves around the horrendous law in the Tear that organizes a lottery from which a selection of the population is chosen to be taken as tribute to the powerful neighboring kingdom of the Mort where they are used as slaves — The Hunger Games, anyone? In addition, although this book was published afterwards, there is a romantic interest that reminds me quite a bit of the harlequin in Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers, although we can assume (but I suppose not know for sure) that their true identities are quite different.

Also, The Queen of the Tearling is influenced by many fairy tales as well. In the beginning, we first meet Kelsea when she is living in a small cottage with two guardians who are in charge of her education and well-being until she is of age to take the throne. This reminds me a bit of Sleeping Beauty’s early life at the hands of the fairy godmothers, but not nearly as much as the arch enemy, the Red Queen of the Mort, resembles the evil queen in Alice in Wonderland.

Something that might have been due to the audiobook format I enjoyed this book in, or maybe its general writing, was the rather confusing world The Queen of the Tearling takes place in. From what I picked up, the setting is in a unique land called the Tear, which was settled after “The Crossing,” a journey from the already existing lands of America and Europe. This of course hints that the book takes place possibly a few centuries in the future, but the lifestyle and government structure of the Tear is very medieval and old-fashioned. Although it was difficult to picture a world such as this (maybe a map in a physical book would have helped), I thoroughly enjoyed the mention of the already long-existing Harry Potter books the children fight over in the new library.

One thing to note about this book is the reading level. I was a little bit confused before I started this book, since in Goodreads it is shelved as both Adult and Young Adult. After taking the risk and reading it, I’d conclude that while it is an adult book, older young adult readers would also enjoy it. While there is no actual romance in this book (very disappointing), there is much talk about prostitution and the violence is quite gory at times. However, for teens of at least 16 and adults of all ages, this book is a fantastic first book in a fantasy series I look forward to continuing! Hopefully future books will be narrated by Katherine Kellgren as well!

This book counts for the School YA Bingo Challenge. 


5 comments on “Gwen’s Thoughts on The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

  1. siamesemayhem
    January 20, 2015

    If there’s not much action, it might make a very thoughtful movie, which we need. Overall, I’m pretty optimistic.

    • gwenkate
      January 20, 2015

      Yes, that’s true… but I’m worried that instead they will just up the action and drama (there are some dramatic scenes but they could definitely be made more violent and action-filled in a movie setting). Hoping Emma will do a good job, though! ~Gwen

      • siamesemayhem
        January 20, 2015

        Hmm, sometimes a movie can improve the storyline by making it tighter, but other times it only sensationalizes the plot. Hopefully, that won’t be the case here.

  2. Pingback: School YA Bingo Challenge: BINGO!! (#1) | Gwen & Kate's Library

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