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.
Source: ARC from Harper in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much!!
So, when we left the Tearling, Kelsea, the queen, had stopped the shipment of her citizens being sent to Mortmesne to be enslaved by the Red Queen. This has caused the Red Queen to declare war on the Tearling. The Invasion of the Tearling picks up there, with the Tearling awaiting war. It was great getting back to this world, seeing more of Kelsea and watching her grow as a queen. I also enjoyed watching her learn more about the history of the Tearling and the rulers that came before her.
Kelsea is coming into her own as Queen, but she still has many obstacles in her way, such as the church trying to usurp her power and being hampered by decisions and laws from before her time, as well as her own inexperience and youth. This inexperience has caused her to make some questionable choices, both personally and for the Tear, though it is clear that she is on her way to being a much better ruler than her mother and her uncle before her. Kelsea is also hindered by a lack of romantic experience, which has caused her to make poor decisions several times in the book. I have to go on record now to say I am not happy with the way things are going in that arena. The “romance” that she gets herself involved in feels like filler and like she’s rebounding, though she’s never been in a romantic relationship before. Her immaturity in romance has me worried because it is making her impetuous and selfish, and makes me think she has more in common with her mother than she would like to think.
Kelsea begins having visions of a woman named Lily, who is from a time and place much more like our own modern society (though from far into the future and obviously an allegory of what could go wrong, which is unsettling), which is to say, very different from the world that Kelsea knows. Lily is the wife of a very important and vicious man and lives in a time where people are even more separated by their wealth and stature. She is alone and vulnerable to her husband’s whims and regularly is subjected to his rage, though she is hopeless for any way out of the environment due to the way that society is now set up. Kelsea is intrigued by what she sees and feels when she “visits” Lily, but does not immediately understand why she is getting these visions and what they mean to her.
Lily’s story, while initially incongruent to Kelsea’s, was interesting and absorbing. Her story became a more fascinating than Kelsea’s and I grew to love her…more even than I love Kelsea. The two stories could be two different books, except for Kelsea’s involvement in facilitating our getting to know Lily. And of course, through the course of the book, we come to realize Lily’s significance and how it affects or concerns Kelsea. I have to say that it was a great addition to the story as well as fascinating in its own right, particularly the way that Johansen has decided to tell it.
In the end, I do think that I loved Invasion of the Tearling more than Queen. Lily’s story and the things that we learn serve to entrench the reader more in Kelsea’s story. I loved the storybuilding and learning some of what happened that lead to the founding of The Tear. There are lots of other elements of the story besides these two women, including what’s happening with the Red Queen and how she became who she is and all that that entails as well as what’s going on with Father Tyler, the priest who is tasked with spying on Kelsea but who just might be an integral part of helping to break the Tear from the tyranny of the church. This series has become a favorite of mine and I am anxious to know how it will all play out.