The Invasion of the Tearling
By Erika Johansen
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.
Stars: 5.0 out of 5.0
Gut Feeling: 1.0
The Invasion of the Tearling was a fantastic addition to the Tearling trilogy, one that expounds on so many of the unknowns of its predecessor yet leaving still more for readers to discover in the final installment. To be honest, I loved Invasion even more than I did the first one which, if you remember my review on it, was amazing. Invasion is exciting and engaging and you really feel as if there is more at stake while you read. Moreover, so much background and world-building history is revealed and each morsel of new information melds with the old and works to create a fascinating world. As if the world-building isn’t enough to entice readers, the fact that two of the four biggest mysteries of The Queen of the Tearling is solved in Invasion: how the Tearling came to be and the identity/backstory of the Mort Queen. The answers to the other two, the Fetch’s identity and who fathered Kelsea, are left for the third and final installment of the Tearling trilogy. I cannot wait to get my hands on that book.
Kelsea, book one’s titular Queen, is growing and changing before our very eyes. It was intriguing to watch her transform physically, mentally, and emotionally. As before, her determination to be a fair and just ruler is compelling and generates a strong empathy for her and the challenges she faces. More than that, however, she finds within herself temptation that takes root in the power she now wields. Additionally, witnessing the dynamics of her relationships with those around her was both believable and engaging. I felt myself rooting vociferously for particular relationships (which I will not spoil for you) and lambasting others (again, no spoilers).
In Invasion, we meet a number of new characters, namely Lily, an Old World woman who lived in America prior to the Crossing. I am hesitant to really divulge ALL of my feelings on Lily because so much would be given away. I will say, however, that her story is just as important and just as compelling as Kelsea’s and leaves readers feeling both fulfilled and hungry for more. Like Kelsea, who saw Lily’s tale unfold through many visions, I became enthralled with her story and often thought about it even when I wasn’t reading. Heartbreaking at its core, Lily’s life in the past (our future) is a little hard to swallow – not because it is unbelievable, but because it is so very possible. As with Kelsea, readers witness a dramatic change in Lily’s life and how she reacts to it.
The Invasion of the Tearling is, like its predecessor, well-written and carefully crafted. It is written with intelligence but isn’t condescending in its choice of word or phrase. The balance of elegance and practicality was comfortable; nothing felt forced or flowery as often happens with fantasy fiction.
One of my sole complaints in my review of the first book was the pacing and how it felt a little erratic. While that opinion changed for the most part with my second read-through preparing for Invasion, I can’t help but feel that Invasion got it right. It was perfectly-paced, not rushed in the slightest. Considering Johansen was really telling three different stories (Kelsea’s, the Mort Queen’s, and Lily’s) that is an exceptional accomplishment.
Again, I absolutely loved this book and recommend it to anyone who has read the first book – if you haven’t read The Queen of the Tearling yet, I recommend wholeheartedly that you do!
“This, I think, is the crux of evil in this world, Majesty: those who feel entitled to whatever they want, whatever they can grab. Such people never ask themselves if they have the right. They consider no cost to anyone but themselves.”
“Even small gestures of kindness have the potential to reap enormous rewards. Only the shortsighted man believes otherwise.”
“When it fails, they do call it madness, Lazarus. But when it succeeds, they call it genius.”