Author: Erika Johansen
Published: July 8, 2014
Genre: New Adult, Fantasy
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.
First off, I want to say this book comes with a lot of hype. Someone decided it should be described as Hunger Games meets Game of Thrones… but that’s just isn’t right. And honestly it does a disservice for the book as people are going to go in expecting some sort of impossible mish-mash of those two books, when really they could be enjoying the book as it is. (Also: huge pet peeve of mine when people just throw on false connections between a popular book and a new one simply because it might have 1 or 2 elements in common… like there’s a power struggle over a throne and the a lottery of “tributes”… Ok. There are probably other connections too, but UGH seriously can we just treat this like it’s own book with its own merit like it deserves?)
Oh, and Warner Brothers buying the movie rights and Emma Watson being attached to this? Eh, yeah, I’ll have to say I’m curious as to how that’s going to turn out.
Anyway, the book itself is definitely passable. Is it one of those fantasy stories I’m going to try to absorb myself into its world? At the moment no. (But Tolkien has set those standards impossibly high.) But was it something I enjoyed reading, didn’t mime seppuku while reading, and would pass on to a friend? Most definitely.
One of the things I didn’t quite care for was just this whole we’re technically in the future, but everything has reverted to medieval living… I mean, I kind of just wanted this to be set in it’s own world because for a debut novel, Johansen does a good job with world building. (Though I was dying for a map in my ARC! There was a page for it, but no map. I’m a sucker for maps in books.)
The first little bit took me just a tiny struggle to get through — but probably only because my attention was 20-million other places. I found the pacing worked well for me afterward and before I knew it I was half way through the book in one night.
So if you could just forget any sort of hype of any sort associated with this — and if all the marketing associated with it could quit hurting the book by making these comparisons — I think you’ll be quite pleased with this title. I look forward to seeing more from Johansen. She clearly knows the craft.
I received this book as part of the TLC Book Tours. I was not paid for this review and my opinions are completely my own.