Tag Archives: Tearling

#BookReview ‘Beneath the Keep’ by Erika Johansen #fantasy #Tearling

Beneath the Keep by Erika Johansen is the standalone prequel novel to her Tearling trilogy, the first of which was excellent, the second good, the third disappointing. Beneath the Keep is every bit as good as the first novel, if not better. If you haven’t read the trilogy, read this first. It’s a rollercoaster ride, a dystopian story of a country at war, the rich denying the poor, drought, famine, rebellion, cruelty and the hope of a True Queen who may exist at some time in the future. Many names are familiar from the trilogy, many are completely new.Erika Johansen Christian is twenty. An orphan, he was born in the Creche, the labyrinth of tunnels beneath the Tear’s capital city New London. The Creche is only one layer of the underground and it is not the worst, in some dark places unimaginable horrors take place. Since he was a small child, Christian has been a fighter. Now he is a legend, unbeaten, still alive unlike the many he defeated. It is a deadly game of kill or be killed. He cares only for one person. As small children he and fellow orphan, now prostitute, Maura were sold together into slavery, together they learned how to survive. Christian is pragmatic, Maura dreams of going ‘topside’, to see the sky and the stars.
Princess Elyssa is heir to the Tear throne but she has a problem. She dislikes her mother Queen Arla and her politics, struggles to perform her royal duties and pay homage to the Church which she believes to be corrupt. Elyssa becomes sympathetic to the secret resistance group, Blue Horizon. As they give food and tools to the poor, Blue Horizon spreads the word about the coming of a True Queen. But as Elyssa becomes outspoken she becomes dangerous, not just to her mother but to a group of criminals including a white witch who can read and control minds.
Meanwhile in the rural Almont, harvests are failing and landowners try to recoup their losses by demanding more money from their tenant farmers. One young woman fights back, and so a rebellion is born.
The climax is a fantastic set piece bringing together all the story strands. I sat up late at night to finish the book. Yes some of it is back story for the trilogy but there are so many twists and turns and new character insights that I surrendered to the ride. If you’re reading it knowing nothing of the Crossing, the Tearling and the mythology of the series, I envy you the discovery of this absorbing chronicle.
In Beneath the Keep, Johansen shows us the underworld of the trilogy. Underground, it is dark, terrifying, dehumanising. She gives us hope while also showing the horror.

If you like this, try:-
The Bear and the Nightingale’ by Katherine Arden [#1 Winternight trilogy]
Children of Blood and Bone’ by Tomi Adeyemi [#1 Legacy of Orisha]
La Belle Sauvage’ by Philip Pullman [#1TheBookofDust]

Click the title to read my reviews of Johansen’s three Tearling novels:-
The Queen of the Tearling
The Invasion of the Tearling
The Fate of the Tearling

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
BENEATH THE KEEP by Erika Johansen #bookreview https://wp.me/p5gEM4-5lm via @SandraDanby

Book review: The Invasion of the Tearling

Erika JohansenThe action from book one of this trilogy by Erika Johansen continues straight on page one, so read the first book before you open this one. At the end of The Queen of the Tearling, the neighbouring countries Tearling and Mort were on the verge of war. But author Johansen throws in a curve ball, Queen Kelsea is having visions, of a woman called Lily in what looks very like 21st century New York, with a twist. So, is this where we learn the Tearling’s Pre-Crossing history, things hinted at in book one? Yes, and no.

I was left with unanswered questions – is Kelsea related to Lily? Who is Jonathan Tearling? Was there more than one ship to cross the ocean, and cross from where to where? This has left me ready, now, to read book three. I will have to wait.

Kelsea is not just having visions of Lily, but of moments in history such as the sinking of a Crossing vessel and the drowning of its passengers. And she seems able to hurt the evil and heal the sick. Is it magic, or the power of her sapphires? And where did they come from? Is it the sapphires doing the magic, or is she channelling her own magic through the jewels?

Kelsea is no longer a teenager girl, she is the Queen and must handle power while learning to be a woman and a leader. How should she wield her power, and who can she trust?

Meanwhile, the Mort army advances.

Read my review of The Queen of the Tearling, the first in Erika Johansen’s three-book series, here.

No word yet on the title or publication date for the third and final instalment.

If you like The Invasion of the Tearling, try:-
The Ship by Antonia Honeywell
In Ark by Lisa Devaney
‘Divergent’ by Veronica Roth

‘The Invasion of the Tearling’ by Erika Johansen, Tearling #2 [UK: Bantam Press] Buy now

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
THE INVASION OF THE TEARLING by Erika Johansen #bookreview via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1Ht

Book review: The Queen of the Tearling

the queen of the tearling by erika johansen 17-7-14 (2)Neither when I chose this book to review, nor when I started reading it, did I know that this was the next best thing. That David Heyman [producer of the Harry Potter films] and Emma Watson [Hermione] are already in pre-production with the film for Warner Brothers. That the author signed a gazillion dollar deal for the seven-book series. I didn’t know. And I loved it.

It’s a ripping adventure story which feels like a medieval tale except for the occasional references to plastic surgery, Harry Potter and mascara. For a debut, it is skilfully handled. This is a dystopian society, post-something [an un-named event] which caused people to feel their homeland [an un-named country] in The Crossing [across an ocean, as a boat was lost] to their new land of the Tearling [on an unspecified continent]. Behind them they left science, books, medicine, education, art, television, you name it they left it behind. They fight with knives and swords.

Into this context is thrown a 19-year old girl, raised in secrecy by an elderly couple in rural seclusion. She must become queen of her mother’s nation or it will be lost to the evil ruler of the neighbouring state. Kelsea Glynn had a studious childhood, learning history, mathematics, languages, and how to trap and skin a rabbit. She reads a book a day [including The Lord of the Rings], not something your usual heroine does. Add treachery, slavery, corruption, prostitution, child exploitation, and all sorts of other dastardly deeds, and you will see why this is a page turner. Kelsea, the girl-turned-Queen is thrown into the middle of this and expected to fail.

But she doesn’t.

[photo: Cultura/Corbis]

[photo: Cultura/Corbis]

There is more to this than just a thriller, the world of the Tearling has been meticulously constructed by Erika Johansen [above] with its own history, myths and customs. It has the makings of a classic fantasy series. I just want to know when book two will be published.

To watch the official book trailer for The Queen of the Tearling, click here.
‘I wrote Kelsea for women who wanted a heroine like themselves’ says Erika Johansen. To watch the interview on You Tube, click here.
To read more about plans for the film, read this report from The Guardian.

‘The Queen of the Tearling’ by Erika Johansen [pub in the UK by Bantam Press]