Lettering and Literature

The Queen of the Tearling

Author: Erika Johansen
Series: The Queen of the Tearling (Book 1)
Paperback: 464 pages
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks; 1st edition (July 8th 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 006229038X
ISBN-13: 9780062290380

Magic, adventure, mystery, and romance combine in this epic debut in which a young princess must reclaim her dead mother’s throne, learn to be a ruler—and defeat the Red Queen, a powerful and malevolent sorceress determined to destroy her.

On her nineteenth birthday, Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, raised in exile, sets out on a perilous journey back to the castle of her birth to ascend her rightful throne. Plain and serious, a girl who loves books and learning, Kelsea bears little resemblance to her mother, the vain and frivolous Queen Elyssa. But though she may be inexperienced and sheltered, Kelsea is not defenseless: Around her neck hangs the Tearling sapphire, a jewel of immense magical power; and accompanying her is the Queen’s Guard, a cadre of brave knights led by the enigmatic and dedicated Lazarus. Kelsea will need them all to survive a cabal of enemies who will use every weapon—from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic—to prevent her from wearing the crown.

Despite her royal blood, Kelsea feels like nothing so much as an insecure girl, a child called upon to lead a people and a kingdom about which she knows almost nothing. But what she discovers in the capital will change everything, confronting her with horrors she never imagined. An act of singular daring will throw Kelsea’s kingdom into tumult, unleashing the vengeance of the tyrannical ruler of neighboring Mortmesne: the Red Queen, a sorceress possessed of the darkest magic. Now Kelsea will begin to discover whom among the servants, aristocracy, and her own guard she can trust.

But the quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun—a wondrous journey of self-discovery and a trial by fire that will make her a legend . . . if she can survive.

What I thought: I think Johansen had a fascinating idea with her world building. Essentially this story is supposed to take place in our distant future yet where technology doesn’t work. This was a new take I didn’t expect and quite enjoyed it. The other books in the series delve a little more in the “how” but I liked the idea that our future doesn’t have to have unimaginable technology – it can be quite the opposite. Kelsea is a great heroine with a big heart – I definitely want to see how high she’ll soar!

The Quote: Even a book can be dangerous in the wrong hands, and when that happens, you blame the hands, but you also read the book.

Why I chose it:  How do dictators maintain control? Most of the time through ignorants – they burn books, they close theaters, they do what they can to prevent new ideas from coming in and threatening their control. Not that Kelsea feels this way about her people – quite the opposite. She understands the power of knowledge and how books are the weapons.

About the Author:


Erika Johansen grew up in the San Francisco Bay area. She went to Swarthmore College, earned an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and eventually became an attorney, but she never stopped writing.

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