The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Time and Flesh, they work wonders on a novel, don't they?
Enough of being cryptic. I really enjoyed this second novel; but to be honest, I wasn't sure I would. At least, this was true during the first third of it. The introduction of Lily was rather a vindication of my many suspicions that these books were, indeed, science fiction. Of course, magic is still a primary focus, but by the end I felt joyous that I got two quite different novels in one package, Kelsea and Lily tied in each other's orbits and endlessly circling each other delightfully. The viewshifts were slightly abrupt and made me wonder if I had fallen into a completely different novel, but hell, that's all right. It didn't take too long before I regained my patience and started enjoying the future of the past. The dance between the queen and the housewife grew organically and became ultimately and satisfyingly clear by the end. I can't give that part more praise, and don't mistake me on this. It is high praise.
As for the additional viewpoint characters, I tend to only tolerate the extras. The novel added two more, in addition to Lily, to the list. I'm suspending judgement as long as the little knife-girl and the deceptive-jailor have increased parts to play in the next novel, but they really didn't have much to do with the core of this book, except to prop up the recurring themes and main characters. They weren't uninteresting. They grew on me as the novel progressed, but neither of them had more than an oblique touch on the main plot.
The plot was a straight line, but there was a ton of consequence and a lot of character building. Many questions that were teased at in the first novel were answered in this one; happily and at length. As for how the book made me feel, I felt the populace's terror, but more importantly, I felt the interpersonal horror more. I was rooting for Lily almost the entire time, and like her, I thought her situation was hopeless. I suppose there's a lot to be said about hitting the reader close to home. Men can be such pricks.
After reading this novel, I'm sitting with this bittersweet empty spot in my heart that can't be filled until I get to the third book. Snatching it up is not going to be a difficult decision at all. I was moved.
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