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.
I am in love with this series! I absolutely place this among the best series I have ever read. It is absolutely phenomenal and definitely one of the best books I’ve read up to this point in the year. I’m going to go ahead and say this now because I don’t want anything to be ruined:
Spoiler alert for book one!
Are all the people who don’t want to be spoiled gone? Yes? Great!
The Queen of the Tearling ended without any big scene between the Mortmesne, ruled by the Red Queen, and the Tearling. In fact, the two queens hadn’t even met yet and I, for one, enjoyed that aspect of the first book because it gave the second book a very clear direction.
In this book, Kelsea’s magical powers are expounded upon in a beautiful manner that I thought was quite fascinating. One of the most obvious displays of Kelsea’s powers come from the integration of a new character, Lily. Now I wanted to dock about half a star from this novel because it felt like Lily came out of nowhere. There wasn’t much explanation from her until I properly read the scene where she shows up. Johansen did a fantastic job of creating a new character who really fit into the world and assisted in building it further while also making sure that the new character herself was interesting and dynamic. Lily is a dynamic character and the way she changes over the course of the book was quite fascinating to read about. Her story was gripping, she was someone that was easy to connect with and feel for.But more importantly, she allowed Johansen to show how the new world that Kelsea and the rest of the characters are living in was created. I admire Johansen for this because many futuristic fantasy novels don’t often explain what caused the new world to be in existence, but Johansen conveyed this in a format that I have never seen done. I thought it was one of the strongest points of the novel.
Despite the world building that Lily brought to the book, she somehow didn’t take away from the main focus of the book: Kelsea. Kelsea also continued to change as the novel progressed; however, the changes were not simply in her personality and ideals but also in her physical appearance. From the first book it is clear that vanity and appearances play important roles in the novel as a whole. This was only further explored as Kelsea’s physical appearance began to change in marked ways that affected not only herself but those closest to her. And although beauty may seem like it would be insignificant in a book like this one, it plays a surprisingly important role. I’m still on the fence about whether I like it or not but regardless I have faith that Johansen will continue to flesh out her ideas with this theme.
This book in the series introduces a number of new characters and continues building this elaborate and beautiful world. Unlike other fantasy books where the world building feels like it’s never clear, Johansen gave enough of a base in the first book that even though the world is still being created, it’s not overwhelming. In fact, it’s quite interesting to see how everything came to be where it is while also not spoon feeding every piece of information to readers. I also think it’s interesting that we get so much detail about the inner workings of the castle but the situation with the Mortmesne and the Red Queen are not given the same level of attention. It’s refreshing to see issues that would otherwise be ignored or looked over be such a prominent feature of the book and to see how all of these seemingly minor issues feed into the major issue with the Mortmesne.
The Invasion of the Tearling was the perfect sequel to an already great novel and I really enjoyed it. Each and every character, both new and old, were extremely interesting to read and their individual growths were riveting. The addition of Lily to explain time before the Crossing was enlightening and quite enjoyable. This book did not disappoint and I have high hopes for the third novel.