This book was provided to me by Random House India in lieu of an honest review
I received this book courtesy of Random House India and promptly fell in love with the cover. What at first look appears to be a metallic crown on a cushion is actually a bear trap on a cushion. The image immediately conveys to the reader that the ‘Queen’ we are going to get acquainted with does not have an easy road ahead of her and is probably surrounded by people averse to her continued good health. I find that a good cover usually makes for a good book.
Then I turned the book and read the print three times, confirmed the date with my husband, read it again and then almost burst with pride and self-importance (so few moments like that in life). Random House India sent me a book for review before it actually hit the markets!! I was ecstatic! That was not the end of it though. I opened the first page and frowned at the scrawl at the bottom. Was it part of the design, me thinks. Turned the page and felt the indentations and realized it was a signature and, if you knew what you were looking for and screwed up your eyes, would read ‘Erika’. It was a signed copy!! Thank you Random House India! You guys are gorgeous!
Now, I just prayed that I would like the book. (You know a review is going to be good when there are so many exclamation marks in the opening paragraphs.)
Spoilers ahead! (Not too many, but a fair amount).
I read somewhere that the PR team said something about the book being a cross between the Hunger games and the Game of Thrones. That was a silly thing to do. Because it is not. It is much simpler than the Game of Thrones and I thought better than the Hunger Games.
The story begins with Kelsea Glynn beginning the journey to take her place as the Queen of the Tearling in Tearling. Why the name ‘Tearling’ though? Tearling sounds as if these people originated from the teardrop of the lady in the moon. I don’t know why I thought ‘lady in the moon’. She has been brought up by an aged couple Carlin and Barty Glynn in isolation, and on the day of her 19th birthday must venture forth and seek her right to ascend the throne of Tearling. Here she meets for the first time the members of the Queen’s guard, who had once worked to protect her mother, the Queen Elyssa, and goes on to form deep bonds with most of them. They race across the countryside, dodging the assassins her Uncle has sent, meeting the most notorious thief of the kingdom, being attacked by trained hawks and finally reaching the palace on the day of the ‘shipment’, which leads Kelsea to take decisions that will eventually lead to war with the Red Queen of Mortmense (again, the name, a play on words). Kelsea must learn to run a kingdom, much more difficult than simply studying to do so, contend with the members in the court and the truly evil Thorne, and fight the corruption and poverty in her kingdom.
The story is spell-binding. I do not lie when I say that I read the book in one day, even managing to starve my family that day as there was no time to cook! The magic introduced almost in the beginning, but the reader is not really sure if he/she is reading the signs correctly. The magic is not too intrusive in the story. Kelsea is instantly lovable. Even as a 19-year-old, she is never truly irrational or unnecessarily obtuse (remember the times you have found yourself screaming at a character, “Don’t do it! Don’t do it”, to no avail). She is honest and becomes more and more aware of the responsibility that rests on her shoulders even as she refuses to back down in the face of her numerous enemies. I loved the part where she rushes to the rescue of some kidnapped tearling. It was brave and totally what one expects of a Queen. Lazarus was just the kind of person every girl needs in her life. As for the love interest, I withhold my judgement until I get to know him better. I don’t think he is good enough for her, too arrogant and too good looking. Kelsea grows on you, with her ideas, her zest for life, her sudden childish insecurities and the laughing in the face of death attitude. The Red Queen has not really done anything as terrible as I expected (immediately remember, ‘Be careful what you wish for’), but then she did not get enough space on the pages, which is understandable.
However, the most interesting bit in the story is ‘the Crossing’ and ‘the Landing’. I was a bit confused as to the setting of the novel. Was it a fantasy planet? Or was it set in medieval Earth? But then I came across the references to machines and ‘pre-crossing’ and even ‘J.K. Rowling’. So I surmise that this is a parallel universe where people have fled when something terrible happened to Earth. The author never explains it and I thought that was brilliant. It assumes a certain intelligence on the reader’s part and is definitely an intriguing idea. Eventually, of course, she will come around to it, but, for now, I am pretty satisfied.
Must, must read!!
Also, disturbingly, Emma Watson is supposed to play Kelsea in the movie adaptation. What? Nooooo! Over and over again in the book the author emphasizes Kelsea’s problems and insecurities about her looks as well as the comments by other people on the same topic. She is tall and muscular, whereas Emma is petite and too pretty. Its not fair or correct! But I guess that is cinema.