The Queen of the Tearling

Harper. Jul. 2014. 448p. ISBN 9780062290366. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062290373. FANTASY
Princess Kelsea has been hiding in the forests of the Tearling since her mother's death, training for the role she will have to play when she turns 19 and becomes the queen. But once Kelsea arrives in the capital and proves her right to the throne, her troubles begin. Her uncle had been acting as regent, and the alliance he made with the sorcerous Red Queen of neighboring Mortmesne is the first thing Kelsea decides to change. She will have to find allies fast as her actions threaten to plunge her kingdom into war.
VERDICT Johansen's debut is a solid fantasy that doesn't stray very far from the traditional playbook. Intriguing references to a "great crossing" that happened 2,000 years ago and led to the immigrants' civilization losing access to higher technology could have added depth if developed (perhaps it will be in future volumes). The novel does have a strong heroine, but the publicity campaign describing this as Game of Thrones meets Hunger Games is misguided. Libraries will want to purchase, as the movie is already in the works with Emma Watson set to star. [See Prepub Alert, 2/1/14; also named the top Indie Next pick for July.
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