Publisher: Bantam Press - Random House
Date: July 2014
Format:Trade Paperback ARC
Source: Publisher via Goodreads
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 was fortunate to win The Queen of the Tearling on a Goodreads giveaway by the publisher. I was very impressed by this work from a first time author - someone to watch for the future. This book I believe is the first of a trilogy, and I also believe that there is a major movie deal with Warner Bros, with producer David Heyman and Emma Watson in the lead. That makes me a little anxious as I would not like to see this book in younger people's hands. It's not a middle grade book, so I hope they are not encouraged to go see it, because if they do, they will want to read the book as well!
It took me a little while to get into the book and get my head around this 'new world'. Tearling was begun by William Tearling who wanted a utopian society, yet now it has disintegrated and is more like a dystopian world. It is set in the future - beyond our world, yet people live now in a world that is more like the middle ages. All technology as we know it has gone. There is little justice and a whole lot of unpalatable violence. Lurking on one border is a country run by the Red Queen, an embodiment of evil.
Kelsea, the heroine and new queen of Tearling has been raised by foster parents in a remote spot of the kingdom. She has been kept safe, while being educated and taught all that she will need for the future by two outstanding people Carlina and Barty Glyn. When she turns nineteen the Queen's Guards arrive to take her to the Keep and place her on the throne. She is young, sheltered and only has so much knowledge, however she has the wisdom of her carers, her own innate courage and the magic of a saphire. Kelsea is about to come of age, she faces huge challenges, and she is ready. She values integrity and justice, she learns when to show compassion and when she must take on the responsibility of being a leader and meting out justice where it is needed. She is the total opposite to her mother, the previous queen and the regent who took over when her mother died.
There are a number of characters in this book that hold hidden depths. Mace, the man at her side and head of the Queen's Guards is one such character. He sees everything, and is determined to keep Kelsea safe. Sometimes that annoys her no end! Yet he is also a mystery - what is his past and will we ever know? Pen is a guard that is selected to be her personal guard, pretty much 24/7 and so far he has shown he is worthy of that job. Then there is the mysterious Fetch, he plays a big part in the book, even though we only have glimpses of him. He arouses Kelsea's interest and she feels something for him. I can't wait to learn more about him, at the moment we know him as an outlaw, yet he arrives a number of times to help Kelsea.
Many of the women have been treated badly in this world and Kelsea is not going to allow that to go on. Marguerite and Andalie are two of the women that she rescues, and I wonder what role they may play going into the future. Likewise the priest Father Tyler.
The Queen of the Tearling was a very intriguing and satisfying read. I can't wait to read on.