Author: Erika Johansen
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Summary: This book was perfection, from the world building to the character development to the plot, pacing, and tone.
“Young Kelsea Raleigh was raised in hiding after the death of her mother, Queen Elyssa, far from the intrigues of the royal Keep and in the care of two devoted servants who pledged their lives to protect her. Growing up in a cottage deep in the woods, Kelsea knows little of her kingdom’s haunted past . . . or that its fate will soon rest in her hands.” (source) Lost heir, fate of the kingdom, etc… you get the idea. Personally, so many descriptions of fantasy novels sound the same to me, they’re not what draw me in. I knew enough to jump at this book because other bloggers had raved about and so now I’m here to do the same for you, because this is a book worth picking up!
I immediately liked that Kelsea, our protagonist, had received some training that would potentially explain her ability to do awesome later. Throughout, the author continued to impress me with a sense of realism. Despite the obvious unreality of the magical elements of the story, everything felt believable. Kelsea’s character growth and the tough decisions she had to make were also extremely well done. A handful of secondary characters were particularly well-developed, with pieces of their perspectives worked seamlessly into the story. Many other secondary characters were also given enough background and personality to feel like real people. The book also probably felt more realistic because some pretty terrible things happened, as you might expect from a medieval-type setting. Fortunately, the darker events didn’t feel sensationalized or gratuitous to me. They were just part of this setting.
I’m not sure I would have loved the world building as much if I didn’t have the next book ready to go. There are so many questions yet to be answered! As is, the magic and the history of the Tearling are both fascinating and I’m content to wait for the next book to understand more. There were a few info dumps, but all were engaging stories worked seamlessly into the plot and I didn’t mind them in the least. I do hope the author answers the questions I have in the next book though. The plot and pacing also made me glad I have the next book waiting for me. I found this hard to put down and I think I’m going to go pick up Invasion of the Tearling now.