The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen – Book Review

Title: The Queen of the Tearling
Author: Erika Johansen
Release Date: July 8th 2014
Publisher: Harper
Series: The Queen of the Tearling #1

Here’s an strong recommendation, from one reader to another, read completely the lengthy Goodreads synopsis of The Queen of The Tearling by Erika Johansen before you begin reading the book itself.

It explains a lot about the story’s setting and core elements, which I had only the vaguest understanding of throughout reading the novel. Some early reviewers who didn’t have the benefit of this synopsis complained about the book’s unclear setting and abundance of superfluous details. With the synopsis, the setting is clear enough, the details welcome additions (instead of failures to clarify the setting).

Even a book can be dangerous in the wrong hands, and when that happens, you blame the hands, but you also read the book. – Erika Johansen – Queen of the Tearling

Early on, the book was promoted as the next The Hunger Games or The Game of Thrones. Though The Queen of the Tearling is vastly different from either fiction series, I enjoyed reading it. I read an e-book version. Later on, I was surprised to discover the novel’s print version was over 700 pages long.


The Queen of the Tearling is not your typical fantasy novel. It does not have as much political intrigue as The Game of Thrones, as much action as The Hunger Games, nor as much romance or magic as The Throne of Glass—though it does have a sprinkle of everything. What it does have is a solid coming of age story.

Kelsea Raleigh must quickly learn how to become queen despite knowing so little of her past, her kingdom, and the magical powers of the Sapphire that is her birthright. Kelsea is a pillar of righteousness, representative of an ideal queen. She immediately asserts herself as an enemy of corrupt nobles and a champion of the poor. But is this really a good thing?

The mark of the true hero is that the most heroic of his deeds is done in secret. We never hear of it. And yet somehow, my friends, we know. —Father Tyler’s Collected Sermons, FROM THE ARVATH ARCHIVE Erika Johansen, Queen of the Tearling

By openly challenging her uncle, she risks assassination. By stopping the shipment of human slaves to the Red Queen of Mortmesne, Kelsea puts her whole kingdom in peril. She keeps making all these righteous yet rash decisions seemingly without considering the dire consequences of her actions. I look forward to reading how she will deal with the insurmountable challenges that she will soon face in the novel’s sequel.

Kelsea may seem annoyingly naïve at first, but I am quite fond of her being a genuinely good person. She is also very normal—not an extremely beautiful lady, shrewd politician, skilled warrior, or powerful mage. In fact, it is her being genuine and ordinary that make such an interesting character.

We don’t always choose, Majesty. We simply make the best choices we can once the deed is done. – Erika Johansen, Queen of the Tearling

My biggest issue with The Queen of the Tearling is how I still ended up lost and confused after reading the novel, despite the aid of the long synopsis. There are just too many mysteries and secrets that remain after the first book in this trilogy. However, I do look forward to reading the remaining two books, partly because Emma Watson has signed-on to play Kelsea in an upcoming movie adaptation of the trilogy.

Coffee Bean and Tea Reads Rating:

4 out of 5 beans

4 Beans


4 thoughts on “The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen – Book Review”

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