Author: Erika Johansen
Provided 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.
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.
Review: Hidden away in the forest with foster parents since she was a year old, the time has now arrived for Kelsea to claim her throne as Queen of the Tearling upon her nineteenth birthday. The story begins as she watches the riders from the legendary Queen’s Guard ride towards her cottage, then travels across the realm of her country to flee the pursuit of assassins sent to kill her before she can reach the capitol. On the road to New London Kelsea must consider all she has learned from her foster parents to prepare her for this day along with all that she observes about the current state of her country on the way to the Keep. She will have to win over her Guards and inspire their loyalty, she will have to bear the responsibility of her people, she will need to do things the way she decrees rather than follow what has always been the status quo. As a lover of fantasy I fell into this story with ease and enjoyed every minute of it.
I think all those interested in the fantasy genre will take a great interest in this story as well. There is magic in the form of a Red Queen from a neighboring kingdom who is said to be a witch, and Kelsea also has powers of her own that come from a sapphire necklace given to all rulers of the realm. Social justice plays a part, as the new Queen of the Tearling must decide how she wants to rule her people. There are plots and betrayals against the crown. Battles take place and the potential for war looms on the horizon. Religion tries to find leverage in politics, and will continue to be a threat as time goes on. The true identities of characters are unknown, yet hinted at to make the reader know they are more than they seem and will come to be increasingly important. Our heroine, Kelsea, has a father with an unknown identity that is heavily speculated on. To sum it all up: the elements of a fantasy story are present and they work.