“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.
In this dazzling sequel, Erika Johansen brings back favorite characters, including the Mace and the Red Queen, and introduces unforgettable new players, adding exciting layers to her multidimensional tale of magic, mystery, and a fierce young heroine.”
My Thoughts: If the first book in the series is about Kelsea growing into her leadership role, The Invasion of the Tearling is about the history of the Tearling. As Kelsea learned during her childhood, to understand the present, one must first understand the past. She does so through the mysterious flashbacks to Lily and life before the Crossing.
Admittedly, it is an odd juxtaposition. Kelsea’s life is so intense that it is easy to get caught up in the action and adventure that tends to surround her. The shifts to Lily’s life are unpredictable and jarring. They disrupt the flow of Kelsea’s story. Lily is not Kelsea, and the difference is disconcerting. It is not the story one expects, and therefore the switches are almost unwelcome.
However, once you make the connection between Lily and Kelsea, the story takes on a completely different dimension. Suddenly, the story becomes larger than Lily or Kelsea as individuals. The story, after all, is about the Tearling and not the queen. The connection between the two women allows readers to realize this for the first time.
The rest of the story is about Kelsea’s attempts to find a solution to the pending invasion. While one admires her fierce concern for her country and people, Kelsea’s is very much a story about cause and effect, and this second novel is the exploration of those effects that she caused during the first book. Her choices are difficult, and it would be easy to call Kelsea impetuous or rash. Yet, Ms. Johansen ensures that Kelsea remains a sympathetic character with readers able to see how she is forced to make difficult decisions and live with the consequences. She is flawed, but that is what makes her such a strong character. She does not shy away from her flaws but recognizes them and strives to improve.
While The Invasion of the Tearling is not quite the sequel one expects, it remains an intriguing story. There are layers to it that enhance a reader’s enjoyment, as Ms. Johansen takes the time to fully develop her world and her characters. Even the purely evil characters have their hidden weaknesses that make them more a product of their circumstances than purely evil. It is a nuanced story, one that reveals different secrets upon additional reads. The intensity of the story ensures readers cannot turn the pages fast enough, and the ending will leave readers clamoring for the finale. Given how far Kelsea has come and the secrets remaining as well as those already revealed, it is sure to be one amazing ending.