THE INVASION OF THE TEARLING
SERIES: The Queen of the Tearling, #2
GENRES/ SUBJECTS: Fantasy, Dystopian
TRIGGER WARNINGS: EXTREME HOMOPHOBIA AND RELATED VIOLENCE, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, RAPE, SELF-HARM
Kelsea Glynn is the Queen of the Tearling. Despite her youth, she has quickly asserted herself as a fair, just and powerful ruler.
However, power is a double-edged sword, and small actions can have grave consequences. In trying to do what is right – stopping a vile trade in humankind – Kelsea has crossed the Red Queen, a ruthless monarch whose rule is bound with dark magic and the spilling of blood. The Red Queen’s armies are poised to invade the Tearling, and it seems nothing can stop them.
Yet there was a time before the Crossing, and there Kelsea finds a strange and possibly dangerous ally, someone who might hold the key to the fate of the Tearling, and indeed to Kelsea’s own soul. But time is running out…
The Invasion of the Tearling is pretty different from the previous instalment in this series. It’s really two parallel storylines — whilst Kelsea is creating tension and building enmities between herself and the church, the nobility and The Red Queen, we also see flashbacks to the unhappy life of Lily Mayhew, the pre-crossing America and the original expedition to create the Tearling.
It took me a good while to get into this storyline but as the book went on I became really invested in it. On reflection, I actually think this was the stronger storyline. There was a lot of tension and it was interesting to see how her story connected to Kelsea. However, as a fantasy fan, I’m not sure if I wouldn’t have rather had a stronger ‘Tearling-now’ story.
Kelsea’s character was pretty different this time around. She’s a darker, harder character — which makes sense considering the war that’s approaching and the pressure she’s under (as well as the odd connection with Lily). I still think she’s a fascinating protagonist and really like her as a character, but I’m not sure she’s as likeable as a person this time around. I did really like some of the new characters introduced in this book, and there were a few plotlines left hanging which I’m really excited to see play out.
This book is darker than The Queen of the Tearling both in tone and in the content. I thought some of this was gratuitous (the mutilation of the priest and the extreme homophobia) or simply came out of nowhere (Kelsea’s self-harming). There’s also rape and domestic abuse. Something non-violence-related but which annoyed me was the ‘made-beautiful-by-magic’ trope which felt unnecessary.
Overall, I don’t think I enjoyed this book quite as much as the first book. Splitting the POVs was interesting but, between that and the changes in Kelsea, it took me a good long time to really get invested in the story. It’s still a fantastic book though. By the end, though I was hooked again so I’ll definitely be reading the last book.