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The Invasion of the Tearling


The Invasion of the Tearling

The “sophomore slump” refers to when an artist delivers a stellar first effort, only to follow it up with a dismal second one. Erika Johansen aims to beat this expectation with THE INVASION OF THE TEARLING, the follow-up to her wildly popular debut, THE QUEEN OF THE TEARLING. While QUEEN was a formulaic fantasy with an unremarkable, albeit somewhat endearing, heroine, INVASION dishes up unexpected twists and shows that Johansen isn’t a one-trick pony.

Kelsea Glynn, Queen of the Tearling, has finally come into her own. She has taken up her mother’s throne and stopped shipments of human slaves to the neighboring kingdom of Mortmesne, ruled by the evil, yet seemingly ageless, Red Queen. With this defiance of the Red Queen comes danger: the Mort are invading the Tearling. They possess a massive army that Kelsea knows will wipe out her own, but she’s shoring up what support she can at home. On the religious front, the Holy Father --- the Tear Pope --- isn’t helping matters, plotting to wipe out his secular rival and allying himself with the Mort enemy.

"THE INVASION OF THE TEARLING sets itself apart from every other middle volume in a fantasy trilogy because of its brutal portrayal of politics and all its consequences."

Thus far, Johansen has sketched out a fairly standard fantasy. What turns this story on its head, though, is Kelsea’s supernatural abilities. She begins to see visions of a woman named Lily Mayhew, who harkens from America before its residents fled to what would become the Tearling. In QUEEN, Johansen glossed over the Tearling’s foundation as a futuristic colony founded by idealistic socialists, but she delves into it full fold in INVASION.

Lily is a rich socialite in a 1984­­­-esque society in late 21st-centurysuburban Connecticut. The reader soon finds, though, that she’s emotionally torn, abused by her husband and secretly taking contraception. Lily’s monotonous world is turned upside down when an injured woman tumbles over a wall into her garden. Lily finds her strength and hides the political dissident in her home, tumbling further and further into the world of a rebellion against the autocratic regime. The revolution’s leader? An enigmatic man named William Tear, whose eager visions of a “better world” resonate with Lily.

Johansen wryly juxtaposes Lily and Kelsea’s realities with perceptible irony. Tear, of course, went on to found the Tearling, which, in Kelsea’s day, is as far from a utopia as one could get. Plagued by war, poverty, injustice and intolerance, and ruled by a monarch, the Tearling would be Tear’s worst nightmare. But is it one that Kelsea and her mysteriously connected pal, Lily, can solve?

THE INVASION OF THE TEARLING sets itself apart from every other middle volume in a fantasy trilogy because of its brutal portrayal of politics and all its consequences. Dreams, both past and present, aren’t all they aim to be, but Johansen makes the reader want to root for Kelsea. This reviewer eagerly awaits the concluding book in the Tearling series.

Reviewed by Carly Silver on June 9, 2015

The Invasion of the Tearling
by Erika Johansen

  • Publication Date: June 28, 2016
  • Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Fiction
  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
  • ISBN-10: 006229041X
  • ISBN-13: 9780062290410