The Dark Before the Dawn

The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

Release Date: June 2, 2015
Publisher: HarperCollins | Harper
Pages: 480 pages
Source & Format: Bought; Hardcover
Series: The Queen of the Tearling #2
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Summary (from Goodreads)
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.

Thoughts on The Invasion of the Tearling
I fell in love with The Queen of the Tearling last year and couldn't wait to see what would happen next. During the wait between books, some of my excitement died down. I still wanted to read The Invasion of the Tearling, but I didn't feel like I had to read it as soon as I got my hands on it. So, I decided to re-read the first book. I'd basically forgotten most of the plot and hoped it would refresh my memory and rekindle my enthusiasm for the series. Thankfully, that's exactly what it did!

Re-reading The Queen of the Tearling reminded me of all the reasons I loved it in the first place, and then I was so happy to find out where The Invasion of the Tearling took these characters and this world. Queen Kelsea Raleigh Glynn must finally face the repercussions of that defining moment where she ended the shipment of slaves to Mortmesne. The Red Queen will make all of the Tearling pay for their defiance. But as time runs out and the threat draws nearer, Kelsea develops a mysterious connection to a woman named Lily, who lived before the Crossing. Why is Kelsea seeing into her life? And how can it help her now?

The Invasion of the Tearling gets off to a bit of a slow start, but I was hooked by the end of the first section. One thing I noted about the first book was that the world felt a bit odd - it reads like historical fiction but is set in the future. I'd been hoping to better understand what the world was like before the Crossing, what caused it and why the world existed in its current state. As Kelsea establishes a connection with the woman from the past, you'll have many of these questions answered. The flashbacks were a bit jarring at first, but I soon found myself looking forward to them. I previously wished that the world was just historical fantasy, but I take it all back now. It's a creative and complicated world, and I love that it feels so different!

In the first book, Kelsea's actions set in motion of series of events that will change the course of history and usher in a new era for her kingdom. And that carries over into this book! All of the changes she makes have consequences - for both herself and her people. While she knew she was destined for this life, nothing could truly prepare her for the position. She's smart, decisive, brave and strong-willed. These qualities make her strong in a way her mother and uncle never were, but it can also be her weakness. She can be stubborn and reckless, and you see a whole new side of her in this book.

With power comes responsibility, and there's a darkness in Kelsea as she navigates this new territory. She becomes an even more complex character in this book, which fascinated me. She makes a lot of mistakes and questionable choices, but it felt so realistic for her character. In a way, she's very isolated and isn't surrounded by a great support system. Her Guards are fantastic, of course, but there aren't any great role models or advisors who can walk beside her in this journey. It hurts to see her pain and doubt, but it felt like a natural progression for her character. Even when she frustrated me, I was rooting for her to succeed.

I continued to love the secondary characters, and I love the storyline that seems to coming in the third book. The Invasion of the Tearling leaves its characters in a difficult place, and it will be so exciting to see how they resolve everything. As I mentioned, I love Kelsea's Guard in this book! I was so glad that I re-read the first book, however, because it gave me a deeper appreciation for their role in her life. And it reminded me of many of the other minor characters that I'd forgotten but are significant to the story.

The Invasion of the Tearling went in a direction I never expected, and I have honestly no idea what will happen next. The book tackles tough issues, places its characters in impossible situations and raises the stakes even higher. There's so much depth in this world and in this story - leaving Johansen room to explore and readers much to discuss. I loved this one just as much as the first, and now I'm so invested in this series!

So Quotable
"I have business with your mistress. Let me pass."
"She will not negotiate," he gasped. "Even I won't defy her. She is terrible."
"Let me tell you a secret, General. I am worse."


  1. I loved The Invasion of the Tearling! It was seriously such a well-done sequel, expanding the world, developing the characters and still telling a pretty damn good story. So excited to see what happens next to Kelsea and the others!

  2. Ah, I'm so glad to see that you loved The Invasion of the Tearling! I really enjoyed the first book in the series (but not enough to reread before the sequel, I do not have time to devote to these long pages. Haha). I'm not sure how much I remember, so I might need to read some reviews of Queen beforehand. I don't want to jump into this one unsure of anything. It sounds like it exceeded what the first book had done, and I'm especially excited to see where the series takes the characters, specifically Kelsea.

    Lovely review, Hannah! You make me want to read this NOW. :)


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