Thursday, June 11, 2015

Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
Release Date - June 9, 2015
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages - 480 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
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.
A strongly crafted, intricately spun story of political intrigue, magic, and the price of power. The Invasion of the Tearling takes this series to spellbinding heights in what is certainly no middle syndrome sequel. After the incredible first novel, I had high expectations for it's follow up, and Erika Johansen did not disappoint.

This reads like two stories wrapped together as one. It's the perilous, early stages of Kelsea's reign with war steadily approaching. It's also the story of a woman whose story, and fate may entwine with Kelsea's own in unexpected ways. These stories, and their link, complimented each other, and the narrative used to mesh them was done effectively. The widening of the world, and the history found within Lily's story offers a rich pay off for fans of the first book. The mythology is richer, and more complex than first glance, and there are more than a few unexpected revelations.

Women and how they are viewed in society is the soul of this novel. Lily's story, in particular, is harrowing and chilling. A world where a married woman is little more than property for her husband to control. Her worth is determined by her ability to reproduce, and everything she does reflects back on her husband. Kelsea's own story offer glimpses of better circumstances, but still a world where women are underestimated. It's a sharp, cutting commentary that still feels valid and poignant today. It's a gritty, darker story and that is reflected in every aspect from the characters to the writing.

Kelsea is hunted by darkness. She's haunted by the deaths she has on her hands. She's also haunted by the fact that she sometimes doesn't care as much as she should about those she hurts. Power is a darkly seductive force, and Kelsea battles who she is in contrast with who she is becoming and whether she likes that person. Her character undergoes striking, but realistic, changes during this novel, and it's fascinating to experience. She's a character who doesn't apologize or make excuses for her faults, but owns them.

Romance is, once again, a secondary element to the story. Kelsea is too focused on the oncoming war, and setting things right that it's barely on her radar. However, the author paints her as a healthy, sexually curious, young woman who seeks out a purely physical relationship. The characterization of Kelsea is done so beautifully. She's flawed, powerful, weak, and many other things, often all at once. She's allowed to do and say things that may not be the best decisions. She is allowed to flounder and mess up. She's also one hell of a Queen. The female characters in this novel are breathtaking in their complexity and inability to conform to what is expected, particularly in fantasy style novels. It's a trend that is starting with characters like Kelsea, and Celaena Sardothien and it's one that is most welcome.

A sweeping, engrossing sequel to what is turning into a stunning fantasy series. Filled with complex female characters, and thought provoking plot points, it's a series that only continues to improve as more of the story is revealed. Those who loved the first book will devour the secrets this books shares, and those who aren't believers yet may just be converts praising the Queen by the end. 

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