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 neighboring 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.
THIS IS A SPOILER FREE REVIEW
Sequels are notorious for their potential for falling short, but Erika Johansen, despite this being only the second book under her belt, is not a novice. She not only successfully maintained the brilliance of her first book without rehashing, but she went beyond the boundaries of her first book and explored different aspects of her characters and world, ultimately creating a beautiful second installment.
What Worked for Me
Character Arc • • • A big part of what made the book so enjoyable for me was how Erika Johansen explored different aspects of the characters, ferreted out the layers and shadowy corners. I love when a book has a “hot topic” in it without making the whole book about said hot topic. For example, Invasion of the Tearling involves 19-year-old Kelsea exploring her sexuality–but this is not a book about sexuality. I thought this was a huge plus because it’s something that is so real and rings so true. The ultimate theme for Kelsea in this installment was how she reacted to the need to be taken seriously, and I thought it was a fantastic way to develop her character further, instead of rehashing the first book.
Plot • • • Same case as the first book: I know that some people will say it was too slow. But true readers of fantasy, I think, will appreciate the detail of the story, how Johansen takes her time with a scene. I never thought a scene dragged. There were so many “Oh sh**” moments for me, and, like the first book, I tore through this one in less than two days.
Writing Style • • • Erika Johansen doesn’t let any grass grow under her feet. She gets in, says what needs to be said, and gets out. That’s not to say that she doesn’t do it in a very efficiently elegant way. She’s an extremely competent storyteller who knows when to linger and when to move the hell on.
World building • • • Also, same as the first book: I’m still wondering about the relevance of having a story set in a different time running parallel to Kelsea’s. I will concede, though, how the relevance is beginning to take shape now. I’m beginning to see why an entire half of the story would be dedicated to another character in another time because the roots of Kelsea’s predicament lie in Lily’s story. However, my stomach always dropped when I saw that the next chapter was in Lily’s POV. I may be beginning to understand her relevance, but that doesn’t mean her story wasn’t depressing, and that I didn’t much rather enjoy Kelsea’s POV.
Kelsea is one hell of a queen, and her story quickly becoming one of my favorites. I am so psyched for the final installment, Fate of the Tearling. I know it’s going to be explosive.
515 pages • Book 2 • Published June 2015 by Harper