Blog Tour Review: The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

I received this book for free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Blog Tour Review: The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika JohansenThe Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
Series: The Queen of the Tearling #2
Published by Harper on June 9, 2015
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Science Fiction
Pages: 515
Format: ARC
Source: TLC Book Tours
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three-half-stars

With each passing day, Kelsea Glynn is growing into her new responsibilities as Queen of the Tearling. By stopping the shipments of slaves to the neighboring kingdom of Mortmesne, she crossed the Red Queen, a brutal ruler whose power derives from dark magic, who is sending her fearsome army into the Tearling to take what is hers. And nothing can stop the invasion.

But as the Mort army draws ever closer, Kelsea develops a mysterious connection to a time before the Crossing, and she finds herself relying on a strange and possibly dangerous ally: a woman named Lily, fighting for her life in a world where being female can feel like a crime. The fate of the Tearling —and that of Kelsea’s own soul—may rest with Lily and her story, but Kelsea may not have enough time to find out.

In case you’ve not been following along, I wasn’t a huge fan of The Queen of the Tearling. The world building left me thoroughly cold, the plot felt convenient more than anything else, and the characters lacked that spark. I didn’t think it was thoroughly terrible, but it fell way short of what I want from a fantasy. Still, when the chance to get a copy of the sequel came my way courtesy of TLC Book Tours, on a whim I decided to request it. Sometimes it really pays off to give a series you were seriously on the fence about a second chance; The Invasion of the Tearling improves across the board, and I’m so glad I gave this series a second chance.

Erika Johansen does a lot of really risky things in The Invasion of the Tearling. It is for this that I applaud her, and this is why I felt like the book deserved a higher rating than 3 stars. I’m not sure where the daring of the plot and the world building will lead, but right now I’m reveling in the way this book surprised me and took chances that paid off.

In The Queen of the Tearling Kelsea had visions. Very convenient visions. She would see exactly what she needed to in order to complete the next phase of her journey. That was not good fantasy. In The Invasion of the Tearling Kelsea still has visions, but they’re of a different sort. While it’s a bit inconsistent the way her powers changed, I’m glad of the shift in her powers because it works so much better narratively. Her visions are now of the past and they hint at what she needs to do, rather than straight up telling her what to do.

The flashbacks to the past are long. These could so easily have been boring, but, even when I was confused as fuck about why I was with a brand new character named Lily somewhere seemingly unrelated, they were some of the strongest scenes in the book. It is in these flashbacks that the characterization felt the strongest, perhaps because Lily’s struggles reflect modern culture so much more. Johansen’s portrayal of spousal abuse is really hard to take and unflinching. The flashbacks really held their own and informed the larger plot in a subtle way.

Another way in which The Invasion of the Tearling improved the series was with the changes to Kelsea. She was very much a savior figure in the first book, but now her character is shading darker. Her plot arc is very much playing with the “absolute power corrupts absolutely” idea, and I’m really curious to see where Johansen will take that. Personally, I’d sort of love to see Kelsea become a villain, but hey I’m heartless.

Another wonderful surprise was the Red Queen. She, too, had very little to her character in the first book. She was ageless, terrifying, vicious, and evil. In The Invasion of the Tearling, we learn WHY she’s that way, which makes all the difference. A good villain has motivations and a plot arc of their own. I love the way that Johansen is mirroring Kelsea and the Red Queen. It portends much darkness ahead, which hell yes.

As a whole, I think more characterization could be used all around. As you can probably tell, I’m interested in the characters but I mostly don’t care about their fate. That might be obvious from my willingness to turn Kelsea, the heroine, into a super villain. Exceptions are the Mace, who I find charmingly gruff especially now that we’ve learned more of his past, Pen, who is the cutest, and Aisa, who I really hope we get to see hit her teen years because she’s Arya Stark fierce. I am also a huge Jonathan fan. View Spoiler »

Despite the rocky beginning, I’m sold now. I’ll most definitely be back for the next book. The Tearling books take some patience, but, for me, it was worth it. Hopefully the third book will be even more intense.

Favorite Quote:

“Watch your temper tonight.”

“Telling me to watch my temper is the first and best way to wake it up, Lazarus.”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

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2 responses to “Blog Tour Review: The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen”

  1. Hannah says:

    Like you, I enjoyed this one much more than the first book. In my review, I pretty much called it the instalment where Kelsea gave no fucks. That showdown with the priest was epic! I’m still itching to know who her father is though.
    Hannah recently posted…Review: Dumplin’ – Julie MurphyMy Profile

  2. I’m so glad that you took a chance and that it turned out to be a good choice! I hope you continue to enjoy this series.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!

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