Book Review: The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

Despite having this entire trilogy in my possession, I was intending on reading something else after I finished The Queen of the Tearling, but I was just so hooked that I had to read on and get straight into the sequel: The Invasion of the Tearling. Here are my thoughts on this fantasy sequel.

I find this series to be quite refreshing, and it’s hard to pinpoint exactly why, but I think it’s to do with our central character and the general pace of the novel. It’s quite politically heavy and our female protagonist is unique and her perspective is intriguing and realistic. She’s smart and extremely brave and she stands by her decisions, regardless of their potential consequences. She is both far more mature than her age (19 years old) suggests, but simultaneously she is also an excellent depiction of a strong-headed, stubborn, teenager. I really liked her in the first book and I stand by that in this book – I just find her to be very different from any other female protagonist who I have encountered. The side characters, who I didn’t mention as much in my first review, are also fleshed out and enjoyable. Kelsea is surrounded by her Queen’s Guard, who are made up of a mis-matched group of men who used to guard her mother. They are interesting and loyal, and I especially like Lazarus who is the head of her guard. He has an interesting, murky backstory and he doesn’t let Kelsea get away with being bratty or difficult. Their dynamic is something I really enjoyed reading about and I think it was nice to read about a father/daughter-style relationship between two characters who spend time building up trust and loyalty that can withstand challenges.

Unfortunately, I found this sequel to be a little slow going and I found myself wishing that I could just get through it. I quite enjoyed the pace in the first novel, but this book just felt as though it had too many pages. I wanted more action, more angst and just more. However, there was a new, almost-perspective character introduced who I was unsure of at first, but whose story ended up really intriguing me. Her story is wound intricately with our protagonist Kelsea (in a way I can’t reveal because SPOILERS), and I really enjoyed watching the story unfold and discovering how they were connected. The aspect of time is something I really enjoyed in this and it took the story in a direction I wasn’t expecting at all! There are so many original, cool elements in this story, but I did find that there was something missing. I’m not entirely sure what it was, but I think it was a connection-issue. I liked the characters but I wasn’t overly invested in the story or them. I enjoyed them, but I wasn’t on the edge of my seat and desperate to read more.

I also wanted to touch on something that I’ve seen come up a few times in reviews of this series. A few people have said that they felt as though Kelsea ‘hated’ other women and viewed them all in a really toxic way. But, I’d have to disagree. Yes, I felt that Kelsea’s battle with her own self-image and insecurities affected the way she viewed the beauty of other women, but I in no way felt that she hated them. She has a lot of respect for the women around her, such as Andalie and even her enemy the The Red Queen. While they’re not always central characters, the book is peppered with strong, resilient women. Any judgements Kelsea makes come from a place of teenage insecurity and the heavy burden of living up to here mother’s apparent ‘incredible beauty’. Her feelings are complex and completely understandable. Yes, this might make her unlikable to other readers, but I just found her to be realistic and flawed. I’ve read plenty of books where there is toxicity between female protagonists and other women, but this didn’t feel like one.

After getting a little bogged down in this one, I’ve decided to leave this series to marinate for a little bit, and I’ll return to the finale when I’ve read a few other books in between. I’ve also heard a few things about the last book that make me a little hesitant to pick it up, but I won’t get into that! Ugh, spoilers!

I haven’t seen a whole lot of people review this, so if you’ve read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Cas xx

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