Thursday, 5 November 2015

Invasion of the Tearling

Author: Erika Johansen
Genre: Fantasy
Type: Hardcover
Pages: 515 
Series: #2 in the Queen of the Tearling series
Source: Local Public Library
Publisher: Harper
First Published: June 9, 2015

Book Description from GoodReadsWith 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.

My Review: This is the second book in the Tearling series and it has a surprisingly different feel than the first book.  From characters to genre to setting there are a lot of new things introduced to the reader.

While Queen of the Tearling focused on Kelsea, Invasion of the Tearling spends a lot of page time on a new character, Lily Mayhew who lives in the Pre-Crossing era. At first it was a little hard to wrap my head around how she fit in with the storyline because Johansen doesn't give her reader any information on Lily.  Her story just appears leaving the reader to try to figure things out.  Lily's story was somewhat interesting but bleak and I kept waiting for the author to make it clear as to why this character was suddenly taking up the reigns.  The plot then bounces back and forth between Lily and Kelsea (oftentimes with these odd fugue states between the two that aren't clearly explained) but their stories stay quite separate.

Another thing that struck me about this book was that the author combined two different genres.  Kelsea's story continues to have a medieval fantasy feel but Lily's story line was Dystopian.  I can't say that I've read another book like it and it was quite intriguing the way Johansen incorporated them. There are also some good action scenes that kept me on my toes and ramped up the energy of the book.  I loved Father Tyler's story line which left me on the edge of my seat but be warned that there are some very graphic scenes involving abuse, rape and assault that may make some readers squeamish. 

Information is still slow in coming to the reader but things are made a little clearer as to how this Tearling world originated.  Johansen continues to leave a lot of unanswered questions which left me a little frustrated but I also understand that it was done to ensure that readers will pick up the last book in the trilogy to see how all of the pieces fit together.  

Some new characters are introduced into Kelsea's world which bring a freshness but old favourites (I'm looking at you, Fetch) also make some brief appearances.  I still have the feeling that I don't really know many of the characters well enough - who is the Fetch, who is that dark force, what are Mace's secrets, who is the Dark Queen ... So many questions still to be answered!

Lily's story definitely takes over a lot of this book and Kelsea, who was the focus of the first book fades a little into the background this time around.  Kelsea also goes through quite a transformation in personality and changes physically but these changes felt forced and rather quick.  She went from a naive, yet strong, plain looking girl (we're reminded ad nauseum about this fact in the first book) to a stronger, bolder, darker and yes surprisingly a more attractive leader in a rather short period of time.  She is, once again, a wonderfully flawed character who makes mistakes and feels believable.  Her romantic liaisons were thankfully in the background because they fell fell flat and felt unnecessary to the plot. I have a feeling that Kelsea will come back with a vengeance in the last book.

In the end, I wouldn't say that I was as enamoured with this book as I was with the first book but it was still a good read and a bridge to the final book in the series, The Fate of the Tearling which will be released in 2016.  I hope that all of the secrets surrounding these women and their worlds will be revealed to the reader because I want to end this series with all of the answers and I just hope that Johansen will deliver.

My Rating: 3.5 stars

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