Synopsis: 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.
Review: I was pleased to receive a copy of this book for review. I thought the plot sounded intriguing and learning that the rights to the book were acquired by Warner Bros and a Harry Potter producer made me even more eager to read it. Emma Watson is set to star as Kelsea so I spent the entire book envisioning her as the character. This is smart marketing on their part because fans can’t complain about miscasting!
I’ve heard this series being compared to Hunger Games. Personally, for me it had more of a Game of Thrones feel to it if anything. I say GoT because I’ve not read the Song of Ice and Fire books yet (I might when the series is finally over); I only watch the show but there were a few similar themes: a medieval backdrop, present but not overpowering supernatural elements, multiple kingdoms, a tyrannical ruler you love to hate, and a young heroine who has to grow and mature to carry out her destiny.
I thought making it a futuristic medieval approach was clever. It allows her to use anecdotes from today in a setting that’s like the past, but it’s in the future so the author gets away with it without readers wracking their brains over historical inconsistencies.
I’ve said it many times before, but I find that I tend to prefer books that are character driven (with interesting characters of course), so in that respect this book was good but it could have been better. There are many characters that get focus so it’s difficult to become attached to anyone in particular. This book introduces a whole new world spends a lot of time focusing on Kelsea growing up to be what she needs to be to save the kingdoms. It’s not in first person which gives it a little more freedom to focus on other characters. I look forward to the sequels exploring those opportunities a bit more. The villain has potential to become very interesting. All of her scenes were my favorites of the book, though I am rooting for Kelsea of course. I finished the book looking forward to the sequel so that’s a good sign.
This is Erika Johansen’s debut novel, but you wouldn’t really know it with the movie deals already coming her way. The well-crafted world-building, characterization, and plot are as adequate as any veteran. I look forward to what she can do next with this series and how it will come to life on screen.
*ARC Provided by the Publisher