Review: The Invasion of the Tearling. Tearling Trilogy 2 by Erika Johansen

The Invasion of the Tearlingtearling2

528 pages
Harper
published in 2015

1. The Queen of the Tearling
2. The Invasion of the Tearling
3. The Fate of the Tearling (Nov 2016)

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.

This sequel is very different to the first book. On the one hand it follows Kelsea’s story, but on the other hand we get a second important storyline in the form of flashbacks. It goes back to the time before the Crossing and details the life and struggle of a young woman in America. The Red Queen will also have her share of POV chapters as well as a few other minor characters.

The Tearling now has to prepare for an upcoming invasion by Mortmesne and the Red Queen. Unfortunately they seem to be doomed from the start as they are very much outnumbered. Kelsea is trying hard to find a way to save her people and the struggle of hers is presented very well. She has advisers and friends who all try to help her but it’s frustrating for her because she knows any decision will cost her dearly. Kelsea even goes so far and considers a deal with someone who is dangerous and she doesn’t fully understand. While Kelsea is trying to be a considerate ruler, she often comes across as quite arrogant, unreasonable and cranky, but hey, that just makes her more believable to me! If I was about to get my butt kicked by a powerful nation and basically have no way to defend myself WITH all responsibility for a whole country on my side, I would be crying somewhere in the corner.

Although a big part of Kelsea’s storyline is dedicated to the preparations before the actual invasion it is not boring at all. Johansen creates an atmosphere full of suspense and I couldn’t help but feel for Kelsea and her friends. There are lots of little dramas along the way. Lots of minor characters become more likeable and real to the reader and we learn more backstories and confessions.

The second main storyline of the book follows a woman called Lily who lives in pre-crossing America. Her world is like our own but more messed up. A world where it sucks to be a woman and everything you do can be monitored. By your husband in Lily’s case. She’s living in an abusive relationship with a man who desperately wants children, in a world where the gap between the rich and the poor is enormous and that is doomed to fail. Scary, how close we actually are to this scenario in some ways…
I needed some time to get used to the new world as well as Lily as a character. Although she seems weak and whiny sometimes she is actually a very brave and determined woman who works against her husband the way she can. There is some graphic content, so be warned if you don’t like reading about rape and abuse. Lily as a character grew on me and is soon part of grand schemes and plans that may change the world she knows.

What fascinates me is how well Lily’s and Kelsea’s storylines and lives are intertwined. It all makes sense in the end. While some revelations are easy to foretell, others come as surprises.

The story has an open ending that only makes me want the third book more!

Some other observations:

  • What I loved are the few chapters that are written from the POV of minor characters, especially the story of the simple-minded but loyal prison guard moved me. This book makes me teary-eyed more often than not!
  • I am not a fan of the “romance” in this book, although it doesn’t dominate
  • What’s with those changes to Kelsea’s appearance? I don’t like that they don’t get explained properly..
  • I love The Mace even more!
  • Not enough of The Fetch!
  • I like how books are considered to be treasures for most of the characters

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