Review | The Tearling Trilogy by Erika Johansen

Title: The Tearling trilogy:
The Queen of the Tearling (2014)
The Invasion of the Tearling (2015)
The Fate of the Tearling (2016)
Author: Erika Johansen
Read: 1st-6th Feb | 6th-11th Feb | 11th-19th Feb
Genre: fantasy; dystopian; young-adult
Rating: 5/5 | 4/5 | 3.75/5

Spanning three books, Erika Johansen’s Tearling trilogy tells the story of Kelsea Glynn, the exiled Queen of the Tearling who has been raised in secret for many years in order to protect her and her family’s claim to the crown of the kingdom. The land of Tearling represents a utopian project – the mastermind behind it was William Tear, a man who believed in a socialist system which he thought would lead to a more just and happy society, having experienced quite the opposite in America. In many ways, Tearling treads the boundary between fantasy and dystopian, for William Tear’s utopian society is (as is often the case) rarely that simple. As someone who enjoys exploring the political and social ramifications of how dystopias happen as opposed to the actual dystopia itself, the Tearling books were right up my alley, and might just be up yours too.

“The future was only disasters of the past, waiting to happen anew.”

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T5W | Inaccurate Book Covers

top 5 wednesdayWelcome one, welcome all, to ‘Emma Remembers Top 5 Wednesdays Exists And Decides To Join In’… again. Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme/challenge which was created by the wonderful Lainey from gingereadslainey and is now overseen by the equally lovely Sam from Thoughts of Tomes. Every Wednesday, participants devise their Top 5 based on a given topic.

This Wednesday’s topic is Books With Inaccurate Covers, covers that have nothing to do with the story or are just plain misleading or a really tacky cover for an otherwise great read. Since I read YA fantasy, that particular genre can occasionally fall foul of cover designers. If I see one more cover that’s ‘the girl in the dress looking over her shoulder’, I may very well scream. It’s such a shame because the stories inside the covers are often very compelling, but I know some readers will be put off ever picking the book up simply because of a cheesy cover. Likewise, I know some books with covers that are just completely misleading as to what genre they actually are, which is equally disappointing.

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Book Travelling Thursdays | Heroines

168709 Book Traveling Thursdays is a weekly meme for book bloggers which celebrates the distance a book travels by way of its covers. I’ve only recently discovered this meme thanks to the blog of the co-creator, Catia (the other being Danielle) and the Goodreads group, but I love the concept of it – particularly because it gives me the chance to see beautiful editions of books and develop some major cover envy.

This week’s theme is in honour of International Women’s Day which was celebrated on Tuesday 8th, and it is to: Choose a book with a badass heroine. Frankly, there are so many badass heroines I could have chosen for this theme since young-adult fantasy seems to be full of them at the moment – which is a brilliant thing, of course! However, whilst browsing through the books I read semi-recently, I recalled just how much I enjoyed this particular author’s take on the typical fantasy heroine – Erika Johansen’s The Queen of the Tearling.

The Queen of the Tearling is a book which tells the story of Kelsea Glynne, a girl whose ascendency to the throne is as surprising to her as it is to the court. Bundled away to foster parents when she was a child, she has been hidden deep within the kingdom for years until she is whisked away from the only home she has known by Royal soldiers since her biological mother turns out to have been the Queen of the Tearling herself.

Part-dystopian, part-fantasy, Johansen’s novel is not all about the big battles and rip roaring, swashbuckling action, so its heroine, fittingly, isn’t the sort of badass who swings a sword and sticks a knife in the gut of the nearest enemy. Instead, I think Kelsea is truly badass because, in a novel about social justice and court politics, she is the Queen that the Tearling might truly need.

Original cover & Favourite Cover – US edition, published by Bantam Press, 2014


I adore this hardcover edition of the book, in fact I wish this was the one I owned! I think it’s a classy fantasy cover rather than gimmicky and it’s dark enough to hint at the darker and quite morbid undertones of the book, without giving anything away. The image of the castle on the hill in the distance is a wonderful bit of simple symbolism regarding Kelsea’s right to rule and the obstacles/distance she will have to overcome to get there. I also really like the font used, and the flourishes in the corners tie the whole thing together nicely. Overall a really classy fantasy cover that I’d love to have on my bookshelves.


Cover from my country – UK edition, published by Bantam Press, 2014


The gushing I did for the US edition of this book is completely reversed for the UK edition since I pretty much dislike the UK covers. Whilst I really like the symbolism of the bear trap that also looks like a crown atop a pillow, and the grey/black/white and red colour scheme is normally my thing, the execution of the design leaves something to be desired, in my opinion. I think it’s the distressed/scratched overlay to the design – I’ve seen so many scratch and smudge patterns on graphics online that I can’t help but think it’s not a very subtle effect since it’s a bit cheap and gimmicky – sorry but that’s just one girl’s unqualified opinion.

Least Favourite Cover – Japanese edition, published by 早川書房

28154591 28154731

There are some mildly unappealing covers for this book – or perhaps I’m just spoiled by knowing the beautiful US cover exists! – but I’m not hugely fond of this edition’s cover design. My usual bugbear of having a photo of a character on the cover applies here, but it adds to this sin by having the girl do that annoying pose where they are positioned facing away but turn and look over their shoulder ‘at the camera’, so to speak. It annoys me in casual photographs and photoshoots so I really can be turned off a book cover immediately if it includes that. It’s a shame because the shades of blue used are really quite lovely.

So there we have it, my Book Travelling Thursdays for 10th March. I’m really glad to see International Women’s Day celebrated in this week’s theme, I think it was rather apt.

What do you think of these covers? Which is your favourite?