This post contains affiliate links.
It’s tough being the middle child. I don’t know that from personal experience, but I tried to go into The Invasion of the Tearling with as little expectations as possible. As the second book of Erika Johansen’s Queen of the Tearling trilogy, it meets all expectations. As a stand alone book, however, it does not. Invasion of the Tearling is still a definitely a gripping novel. I read it in 2 days.
Before I get into the details, there will be spoilers if you haven’t read the first book, Queen of the Tearling.
After Kelsea’s decisive (and magical) victory against the rebels in Tear, she has earned the respect of her Queen’s Guard and her people. The Red Queen’s army still looms at the border and Kelsea has no idea how she will stop them. She’s pulled in different directions as she tries to protect her people from impending invasion, deal with the Church’s attempt to control the crown, and keep the rich nobles in check. All while dealing with her growing magical powers.
While her sapphires saved from the rebels, they’re changing her both physically and psychologically. She battles the ghost and legacy of her mother Queen Elyssa to find her own way to ruling Tear. The sapphires are also giving her visions of life before The Crossing–when the original Tear settlers left they dystopian America to create their (failed) socialist society.
I can’t share too much more without spoiling major plotlines of the novel.
Let’s get this out of the way: There’s a huge cliffhanger at the end of the book.
Since the third and final book is not expected to drop until summer 2016, that’s a long damn time to wait for resolution. I’m not a fan of cliffhangers.
The other thing that threw me off were Kelsea’s visions into the past. The dystopian version of the United States with recognizable names and technology threw a bit. It was unexpected and felt disjointed even though I appreciated learning more about pre-Crossing life. The disparity of a country with too much technology versus Tear, where little technology existed, was jarring.
Sadly, the novel does suffer from middle trilogy syndrome. There’s plenty of explanation of the past and set up for what’s to come in the book #3. I have a hunch of how Kelsea will resolve her country’s turmoil, but I will wait to see if I’m correct. It all has to do with her visions of the past. There’s just too much going on and the main plot line becomes a bit muddled.
Now that I’ve said all this, The Invasion of the Tearling is still a great novel even with its middle child limitations. After all, I tore through these 500 pages rather quickly.
PSA: Amazon has their Kindle e-readers on sale for $20 off. Wouldn’t that make a great Christmas present?