Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

The Queen Of The Tearling The Queen Of The Tearling
by Erika Johansen
Bantam Press

Supplied for review by Random House New Zealand

Reviewed By: Jan Butterworth

Raised in an isolated cottage by foster parents, Kelsea is the future Queen of Tearling. Hidden from enemies to her throne, the Queen’s Guard come for her on her 19th birthday to escort her to her city to be crowned. A lot of people want her dead and she is pursued by assassins on the journey, causing the Guard to split up so their trails are divided and harder to pursue. Kelsea then is kidnapped by a masked group who may or may not kill her. Striking a deal with the leader, Fetch, she makes her way to the city.

Tearling is poor, its people starving while the aristocracy grow richer, and they live with the threat of the neighbouring country, Mortmense, and its tyrant–ruler, The Red Queen. Tearling has to provide tribute to Mortmense to stop it invading it again and Kelsea, horrified when she finds out what the tribute is, has to decide whether to do the right thing or turn a blind eye for the sake of her country.

The world building is interesting, you think it’s a medieval setting then a mention of modern technology is dropped in and you gradually realise its set in the future after an apocalypse and these people had left to build a new land. Having all the drs and nurses travelling in one ship, which sunk during the Crossing, seems really stupid though.

The characters engage your sympathies and are likeable, except The Red Queen and bad guys like Thorne, and as with Javel, you see why good men do bad things. Kelsea grows up quickly and has to make some hard choices, but does what she feels is right. I was puzzled why the elite Queen’s Guard, being hunted by assassins, would build a huge fire in the woods and get drunk though.

There was a lot of exciting action, and a mystery about the magical necklace that guides Kelsea. I look forward to finding out more about its powers and why it has a twin. I want to learn who The Red Queen is and see if my theories about the identity of Kelsea’s father and who Fetch really is are correct. I was captivated with this book from page one and eagerly awaiting the rest of the trilogy. A great debut novel from an author who is now on my must-read list.

The film rights have been optioned by Warner Bros. Emma Watson will star and the producer worked on the Harry Potter films. Not sure if the beautiful Emma Watson can pull off playing the plain Kelsea.

SFFANZ is a non-profit organisation and registered charity
designed to bring together fans of the fantastic in New Zealand

Contact us by email at: