“This, I think, is the crux of evil in this world, Majesty: those who feel entitled to anything they want, anything they can grab.”
I honestly feel like I don’t know how I feel about this series. There is so much good in this series, and such a strong sense of feminism, which brings up a lot of important and not commonly discussed topics: the need for birth control and women to be able to protect themselves, rape culture, child abuse, human trafficking, the brain washing that can happen with religion and fear, body image issues and body shaming. Yet, this series just never enthralled me the way it did others. In fact, I gave The Queen of the Tearling and The Invasion of the Tearling three stars, too.
And that’s truly how I feel about this book series: It’s good, and has some really unique concepts that blew me away, but it is also long winded, has some plot holes. It never grew into anything that I would cherish, recommend, or want to reread in the future; it was just a passable fantasy series, with strong female representation that I appreciated.
I know this is the final installment of this series, but I’ll try to give a non spoiler synopsis: Kingdoms are warring and kingdoms are breaking apart from their rulers. Corruption and greed are at an all-time high, and the church is trying to seize all the power. This world is set in the future of our world, but everything is set back and it feels like medieval times. Our main protagonist, Kelsea, has the ability to see different perspectives from the past, while trying to make a better future for her current world, even though that seems impossible. People refuse to learn from the past mistakes of the world, and evil always tries to triumph good, in any way possible. (Not to self: Try your hardest to not talk about the 2016 Presidential Election, Melanie.)
As some sort of disclaimer, I will say that the topic of religion in this book is going to make quite a few people upset or uncomfortable. Erika Johansen doesn’t shy away from one of her main protagonist’s beliefs, whatsoever, and paints religion in a very negative light. I was fine with the very negative view on religion, because fear makes people do terrible things, and everyone is entitled to their own feelings and opinions, but it did become a little overwhelming for me. There are bad, evil people in every walk of life, and those people will always try to manipulate others to be evil with them by using fear, it isn’t just in churches. Obviously, the author is a well educated woman, and knows this, but I just had to put my two cents in, because I think this book could ruffle a lot of feathers with its portrayal of the two religious
“And what was so important about blood anyway? She had just cut ties with the woman who’d borne her, and it had been the right decision.”
My favorite thing about this book is that it talks about something that is somewhat rare: the feeling that we, as humans, feel like blood makes us connected. This book really touches on how you are not the sins your parents have committed, and that sometimes it is truly best to cut toxic people out of your life. Not to get too personal here, but seeing Kelsea’s inner struggle with that really touched me on a level I can’t even write about. For that alone, this book will always have a place on my bookshelves.
“The tie of blood is only as strong as you want it to be. Some parents are poison, and it’s best to simply let them go.”
This book actually, surprisingly enough, does have a squeaky clean ending. Like, the reader will be left with many questions and it leaves a lot to be desired, but it is a clean cut ending that I didn’t see coming. That being said, I really disliked the ending. I actually think it will be a polarizing love it or hate it ending, but my gut feeling tells me most people will dislike it. This book was a lot of world building, a lot of character development, and just a lot of work in general, to have a very anticlimactic ending. I feel like the author might have bit off a little more than she could chew. I mean, this series is very intricate, and had some pretty strong villains, and I think the ending she chose was almost necessary, even though I very much disliked it.
I also know the ending made me feel very uncomfortable for Kelsea, and I hate that I’m left with only being able to hope for her well being in her new and very uncertain future.
To end on a positive note, I do believe if you’re still upset about the 2016 Presidential Election (I mean, who isn’t?) this would be a very impactful book for you. Even though I stated that I only liked this book, and will stand by my three star rating, the discussion on what people will do when they are being governed by fear is very important and very eye opening. I think many people in this world would gain a great deal of insight if they picked up this book series.
Now I’m going to go into some MAJOR SPOILERY discussions! Please DO NOT continue reading if you have not completed this book, read The Queen of the Tearling and The Invasion of the Tearling, and do not wish to be spoiled!
Okay, I feel like there is way too much to discuss without mentioning some spoilers. I’m just going to talk about a few key individuals, and how their reveals/arcs made me feel:
Row Finn – AKA: The Orphan, or dude that lives in the fire. Like, I don’t know about you all, but I could see him being William Tear’s kid from the start of Katie’s past being told. His being evil just for the sake of being evil got really old, too. And I’m all for girls having sex with whoever they want, whenever they want, but I was actually disgusted that Katie slept with him.
The Fetch – AKA: Gavin. Man, talk about writing a hot, mystery man and completely tearing him apart and making him look like such a weak man. Like, I’m not even upset about his character; Erika Johansen did an amazing job destroying my previous image of him, and I don’t think that’s easy to do, so bravo. My only complaint about his character destruction is that I feel like in the previous books, we are to believe he will play a pivotal role in the ending, since he is such a mysterious man with all these secrets, but it ended up just being a flop.
The Red Queen – I loved her relationship with Kelsea in this book. I felt like in a The Queen of the Tearling she was being written to look like an evil queen, and to make us hate her, but she was pretty likable in this book. I have a weak spot for helpless evil queens, I guess.
Asia – I kept thinking that Erika Johansen was going to write a spin-off about this child assassin! Her devotion to do what’s right, her being a child victim of sexual and physical abuse and facing it to overcome it, her courage in the Creche – these are all such amazing things that completely hooked me and made me so excited for the possibility of a spin-off in this world! Unfortunately, the ending of this book made that outcome look impossible.
Mace – Um… I actually hated him in this book. *Gasp*, I know, I’m terrible. But as soon as that plot twist with Kelsea’s mother came out, I was so disgusted with him. Seriously, he’s dead to me. Also, Kelsea’s reveal about her father was the most infuriating thing about this whole book. Like, I wasn’t having any of that scene with “Lady Chilton” whatsoever.
Pen – Pen is the other character that I feel Erika Johansen killed without killing. He can’t be Kelsea’s guard because…. he loves her? Like, what kind of backwards logic is going on here? Then, in the new and better world Kelsea ends up achieving, my heart literally wept. I’m not saying that the female lead has to end up with a male to be happy, but with everything Kelsea has been through in her life, her ending up with Pen in this new world would have been enough for me to be happy. I don’t mean they had to be married with three kids, but Pen, or Andrew, being single and willing to hang out with Kelsea would have turned this whole damn ending around in my eyes.
Father Tyler – Or do I mean Brother Tyler, now? Either way, he’s amazing and a perfect little cinnamon roll, and saved the whole damn world. I actually wanted to scream at Kelsea when she didn’t want to talk to him in her new world. I’m like, girl, if anyone is going to believe your crazy story – it is going to be his ass.
Ewen – He is the other perfect little cinnamon roll in this series. I don’t have much to say about him, but I completely loved reading about him and his heroism, and couldn’t write a review without mentioning him.
Brenna – God, I loved Brenna’s character arc in this book. I loved reading her heartbreaking past, and realizing that she grew up in the Creche, absorbing the pain of others. God, it still hurts me to think about. Like I said, some parts of this series are honestly 11/10.
Javel – As much as I freaking loved
Allie Alice, Javel’s story-line was pointless. Like, yeah, we got to see him unhealthily cope with losing someone, and coming out of alcohol addiction, but this story would have been 100% fine without his arc.
I could touch more on Kelsea, Katie, Jonathan, Lily and William, but I don’t really feel like I need to. The shock factor of Kelsea being able to change the past, and then have to deal with numerous butterfly effects was pretty overwhelming, and I’m still not sure how I feel about it, and I might never know how I feel about it. But I do know I wish Kelsea the best, and I hope she finds the peace she deserves, because she now has to live in a world where no one knows her sacrifice but her.