Review: The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

Last week, I shared my review of The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen, so this week, I’m following it up with a review of the second book in this trilogy, The Invasion of the Tearling.

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A teaser, from Goodreads:

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’m giving The Invasion of the Tearling five out of five stars.

Guys, this book. I enjoyed The Queen of the Tearling, but this knocked my socks off. Needless to say, spoilers are ahead.

If, in my last post, you noticed some hesitation, it’s because I read both of these books in the same week and I struggled to separate what I learned in the first from what I learned in the second. The simple fact is that the second book completely fills in so many blanks.

The second book follows Kelsea through the ramifications for her revolt against the Mort, as well as the ramifications of letting her sapphire take over. She changes physically and mentally, and is often at war with herself. She grows up and matures. The growth that she shows is tremendous.

Better yet, is the story that seems to run parallel to Kelsea: that of Lily, who lived in the United States more than a hundred years earlier. We find out that Lily lives in the world that the people who settled the Tear fled, and we see how that world has become broken. Her story is fascinating, as are the parallels to Kelsea’s life, and the insight we get into the setting both past and present.

Another narrator is pulled in to Invasion as well: The Red Queen of Mortmesne. Her perspective, paranoia, and world are fascinating. Her, and later Kelsea’s, interactions with the Dark Thing are compelling. By the end of the book, I both loathed and sympathized with her.

Speaking of the end of the book: can we just talk about how I didn’t see that coming? Usually, I can spot a cliffhanger a mile off, but I truly thought the book would be wrapped up neatly, even if it was slightly tenuous. This time, though, I was on the edge of my seat. And the twist in which the Red Queen doesn’t truly win? Amazing.

The next book in the series, The Fate of the Tearling, won’t be out until 2016, but you can bet I’ll be buying it the day it comes out. Well done, Erika Johansen.

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