By Heather A.
4 out of 5 stars ★★★★☆
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.
See my reader’s report of the first book, Queen of the Tearling, from my personal blog.
I really love Johansen’s writing style. It’s very immersive and descriptive. When I first received this book I wanted to binge read it and really dive deep into the world. I’m glad I didn’t. I took a long time to read this book—way longer than average. And I read plenty of books in between starting and finishing this novel. But I needed to give it the time it deserved. Whether it was taking a few hours to read at home, or half a chapter here and there. It’s worth taking the time because as a reader, we become more involved with the story and how it unfolds.
Kelsea is a freaking badass. Legitimately so cool. I wish I was exaggerating. She inherited these sapphires when she became queen. They give her magic powers and have transformed her from an ugly duckling to something resembling Emma Watson. But she knows that she’s changed. She’s more cutthroat, like when she watches a public execution. She’s more powerful, she healed a sick man by absorbing the sickness into herself!? She’s more seductive; a physical relationship develops. And she’s more dangerous, smart, and deceptive during the pending invasion of the Mortmesne.
The strong points for me were the flashbacks that Kelsea experienced. The power of the sapphires linked Kelsea to a woman from an earlier time period named Lily, who is living through the political turmoil as a result of increased national security, limited rights for women, and overall shitty situation (her location is present day New York). Lily is abused by her husband (trigger warning: rape, physical violence, verbal abuse). Lily eventually helps a woman involved with a rebel political group and tries to warn them when they are threatened by the government. Her story is interesting because we see what the world was like before the Tearling arrived in their current world, we meet the man who lead the rebels through The Crossing, we see Lily grow as a person.
So by the end we are left with a cliff-hanger. The second book slump of a trilogy was minimal. There wasn’t a lot happening in terms of the day-to-day that Kelsea was trying to avoid war, but it was a good build up to what we think we expect of the third installment. The second book was also informative to building the backstory of the Tearling people (which was my major criticism of Book #1). I highly encourage everyone to check out this series.