The Queen of the Tearling has elicited several reviews from early reviewers and reactions are mixed. Some people like it a lot, others don’t like it at all. Me, I happen to fall somewhere in the middle but more inclined to like it than hate it. The book is certainly not perfect, but I think it is better than a lot of others I have read in the genre.
The novel follows Kelsea who has been raised in secret and away from other people because she happens to be the next queen of Tearling. I could not get over the name, Kelsea, and this may seem like a minute thing but I thought it didn’t fit with the tone of the novel. But that’s just me. Anyway, Kelsea is taken back to the capital city in order to claim her title as Queen but along the way she is pursued by assassins and a stranger named Fetch and his army. She makes allies of some and alienates others and has to contend with a whole lot of misogyny before she finally reaches the capital and takes the role she was prepared all her life to.
The novel is certainly fast paced but there is, curiously enough, a marked lack of worldbuilding that took away from my enjoyment of the novel. I was able to discern that the novel is set in the future and the humans came here via spaceships but there is magic in this world and the tone is one of a secondary world. There is barely mention of the human earth and we are never explicitly told what is going on. (For comparison purposes, look at Moira J. Moore’s series Hero and she has a similar premise but the worldbuilding is done exceptionally well.) I think I needed more development where the world the story is set in to completely immerse myself in the story.
Kelsea is interesting, but she also needed more development. We focus a lot on her lack of beauty (and her need to lose a few pounds) (and to think that Emma Watson is playing her in the movie), and she is not an unlikable character, but she needs something more. The various soldiers who played her guard are interesting but there is a whole lot of testosterone and not enough females in the book. Yeah, some females but none Kelsea’s age and no one we can see as a foil for her.
I think my favourite character in the book was the Red Queen. She was so over the top and so built up as a villainous character but in the end when we meet her, she has the semblance of power but no real power. That was a letdown because I expected really villainy and I didn’t get it. I do look forward to seeing who they’ll cast as the Red Queen in the movie.
The romance is seriously weird. She spends all of five minutes in the company of this guy who makes sure that she is aware of who has the true power (him) and then we have suggestions of her feelings for him. I can’t even call it instalove. But the love interest is intriguing though we don’t get enough of him to form any sort of conclusive opinion on him.
Still, I enjoyed the book and am willing to read the next one to see where it goes and where it takes Kelsea and whether we’ll see more of Fetch.