The Queen of the Tearling was just amazing. I could barely put it down. I sneaked in moments of reading when I should have been doing real life stuff. I just had to know what happened next. I loved everything and everyone. This might be the gushiest post I've had in a while, because I have nothing but love for this absolutely engrossing novel.
I love Kelsea. She's amazing. She is a 19-year-old young woman, who is taken to be crowned queen. It's not "thrust" upon her, she's been in hiding, preparing for this her whole life. When it happens though, it's not quite what she expected. She learns things on her journey through the story, about her mother (the former queen), about her foster parents, and about the kingdom she now has to rule. The entire story has Kelsea learning secrets and about the past. She learns about herself too, what she is capable of and what kind of ruler she wants to be.
There are two things I previously thought about this book that after reading the story, I don't think are entirely true. The first is that this is a fantasy novel. It is, but it is more. I keep trying to piece together the timeline of the Tearling world. I want to know what caused "The Crossing". There is so much of our world scattered throughout the story that you know these people are somehow the future. But they live in a world that feels like the past. They talk about sailing, mention technology, so they are still on Earth, it's not some weird Battlestar Galactica or a Star Wars thing. Johansen name drops "Rowling" and Lord of the Rings. Based on what we glimpse of the planet, some kind of natural disaster happened? Did the Ice Caps melt? Global Warming? Where is "the New World" actually located? I really want to know. Though I also want to learn what happens to Kelsea and the rest of the characters in the series, I'm really interested in how Erika Johansen saw this world forming.
The other thing is the "classification" of the book. It's Young Adult but not really. The main character may be 19, but she's the only one. All of the other characters in the book are older than her, save for a few small moments with children. The other women are either mothers or nobles. The men of the Queen's Guard are in their 30s and 40s, except for one, maybe two. A lot of adult things happen in this story as well. This is definitely "older" Young Adult. New Adult maybe? Or just a very good novel, where many violent and sad things happen. The Queen of The Tearling broke my heart more than once.
There are also two things about the story that stood out to me. The first, there is no "love interest". Kelsea is constantly surrounded by men, but they are all older than she is. Whether she finds them attractive or not does not matter. There were a couple times, where I thought she might "fall" for a man, but besides a potentially inappropriate attraction to one, she stays focused. Johansen doesn't go there. This is about Kelsea and her people. Going along with the idea of not having a love interest, Kelsea is described as plain. Her mother was apparently a great beauty, but not her daughter. Kelsea has her mother's eyes and height, and that's it. It is commented on more than once. There are times we are reminded that Kelsea is 19 and is self-conscious about her appearance, like many at that age (and at my age). Is it bad that I like that she's not a princess who "dazzles" with her beauty? Kelsea uses words and strength.
I'm so excited to read the rest of the series. I have The Invasion of the Tearling, but I might wait until I pick up The Fate of the Tearling before I read it. It's such a wonderful, exciting, thoughtful book, that I'm confident the rest of the series will not disappoint.