Like most books I end up treasuring, I picked this one by chance. The eerie front cover with the lone castle standing ominously in a gloomy background, piqued enough curiosity to read the back cover, which to my dismay, revealed nothing of the plot, containing only glowing reviews from authors I never really cared for. They did, however, offer context clues —Adventure, Old World, magic and sorcery— words that got me excited in my youth and as an almost-30 something, still does.
The Queen of the Tearling is a Fiction novel bordering on the Fantasy genre; the first of an epic trilogy. It tells the story of a 19-year old young woman named Kelsea who has spent her childhood preparing for her throne in an isolated cabin, in the care of an old couple who have been tasked to mentor and educate her of her kingdom, Tearling, of which she knows nothing about. No one knows of this young girl’s whereabouts and as she comes to terms with being crowned and learning more about her family and kingdom, she realizes that most of the key information has been kept from her and for good reason.
She eventually learns the truth the hard way when she ascends into throne, barely making the journey to Tearling alive (a recurring circumstance). She finds that she has adopted a kingdom in shambles; one full of intrigue, conspiracies and assassination attempts, reminiscent of the Dark Ages. Clues are provided sparingly in regards to the time table.
To the delight of many escapists, the story is one big adventure with handsome thieves in the middle, an Evil Queen beyond the fence, and brutal but faithful Royal Guards close by. I found myself smiling at the unorthodox companionship of one particular Royal Guard and his unwavering faithfulness to this newbie Queen who herself, transforms from scared little girl into a strong, brave woman. Adult themes are in there too.
As for the love story (there is one, and of many kinds), it is in its blossoming stage but with all the adventure that the author weaves, commanding a language and style you can almost believe is true, you’ll find that this story can do without the love story push— it’s a magical book in itself and the stage in which it is set is a great escape from our world teeming with devices and technology.
With classic characters straight out of Robin Hood and the fierce females of Game of Thrones, this book is a treasure among dystopian Young Adult novels with the same recurring troubles. If anything, it’s refreshing — and I feel all the better for having read it, patiently waiting for the next installment.
If you’re looking for chivalry and well-written characters, this is it.