Summary courtesy of Goodreads:
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.
The Queen of the Tearling introduces readers to a world as fully imagined and terrifying as that of The Hunger Games, with characters as vivid and intriguing as those of The Game of Thrones, and a wholly original heroine. Combining thrilling action and twisting plot turns, it is a magnificent debut from the talented Erika Johansen.
Let me start by saying that I am always a little skeptical when a novel has film rights before it's even out available in book form. I mean come on right? How do you know this will even be any good or that the public will support it, but let me tell you, all of that worry is for nothing. The Queen of the Tearling is an EPIC adventure that includes magic, a thrilling chase, intrigue, a fierce intellectual heroine and loyal sub characters who you will fall for in an honest and heartbreaking way.
The plot is absolutely phenomenal. The pace isn't dragged out and as the story moves along it's almost as if puzzle pieces click into place. I love, love, LOVE stories like this! And what I loved even more? The Queen of the Tearling is one of the few novels that I remember where the main character is not devastatingly beautiful and Kelsey actually is described as "carrying a little extra weight." So realistic and refreshing. I know we all love a beautiful future queen/princess but honestly, this is just one of the many reasons why I fell in love with Kelsey. She is so perfectly imperfect and wields the power to make change in this flawed future that is so wonderfully laid out. Johansen really does a superb job world building. From the first page until the very last the Tearling Kingdom and Mortmesme are masterfully built and imagined by this glorious author! What sorcery is this?
Now, I know I've been saying nothing but praise for this lovely novel and really there is not much in my mind that I would change but I will warn, that in this world where we are presented with so many novels filled to the brim with love triangles and epic romance stories this one is definitely lacking. That is not to say that I felt like anything was missing, but if that's something you're looking for I will warn you that this element is barely there. There are hints here and there, but this is at the other end of the romance spectrum.
All that being said, this is definitely a series to keep you eye out for! What an original story with engaging characters and an incredible world that I cannot wait to dive into in the rest of the series!