The Queens of Innis Lear
Author: Tessa Gratton
Genre: Adult Fantasy/Retelling
Release Date: March 27, 2018
Publisher: Tor Books
A kingdom at risk, a crown divided, a family drenched in blood.
The erratic decisions of a prophecy-obsessed king have drained Innis Lear of its wild magic, leaving behind a trail of barren crops and despondent subjects. Enemy nations circle the once-bountiful isle, sensing its growing vulnerability, hungry to control the ideal port for all trade routes.
The king's three daughters—battle-hungry Gaela, master manipulator Reagan, and restrained, starblessed Elia—know the realm's only chance of resurrection is to crown a new sovereign, proving a strong hand can resurrect magic and defend itself. But their father will not choose an heir until the longest night of the year, when prophecies align and a poison ritual can be enacted.
Refusing to leave their future in the hands of blind faith, the daughters of Innis Lear prepare for war—but regardless of who wins the crown, the shores of Innis will weep the blood of a house divided.
Praise for THE QUEENS OF INNIS LEAR:
“I adore this—rich, epic, blood-soaked—a glorious and grand sweeping fantasy.” —Kate
Elliott, author of The Poisoned Blade
“A gloriously symphonic, thematically rich variation on the story of the daughters of Lear. The danger of seeking certainty makes this a tale for our time; the power of truth and mercy makes it a tale for all times. Prepare to devour every word, for Innis Lear will consume you.” —Karen Lord, author of Redemption in Indigo
"Messy, beautiful, and dark, darker than Shakespeare could have dreamed." —E. K. Johnston, author of Star Wars: Ahsoka
The Queens of Innis Lear is a beautifully written retelling of Shakespeare's King Lear. If I had to choose one single word to describe this novel, it would be INTENSE. And that alone would be an understatement. Being an English major, I'm quite familiar with the play and I was genuinely excited to see how the author was going to tell the story. I wasn't disappointed in the least. One of the major positive aspects of the novel was the amazing world building. The author uses detailed descriptions and vivid imagery to bring these characters and their world to life in front of our eyes, and I found myself easily sucked into this reality right from the beginning. It was so easy to picture myself in all the different settings because the author described them down to the smallest and most intricate detail. It was some of the most amazing world building I've ever read, hands down.
The characters were also very well written with unique personalities and traits that made them realistic. There were several main characters that we hear from throughout the book, so having each person so different and distinct made it easier to tell them apart and help clear up any confusion. I really loved learning about all of the characters, their various histories and life stories, as well as their relationships - both good and bad - with one another. There weren't any simple relationships in the entire book. Each character was somehow connected in intricate and complicated ways. I loved watching each person learn and grow throughout the story - whether things went good or bad. It was all fascinating to me and I ate it up.
In my opinion, this is one of the more heavy and complicated of Shakespeare's tragedies, which made this novel one heck of an undertaking. I honestly don't think most authors could have pulled off a decent retelling at all, let alone one that was this fantastic. I found a couple negative points for myself as a reader that I have to make note of. First, there are so many different major characters that get their parts of the story told. It's overwhelming and confusing, especially when the plot is so full of power struggles between kingdoms, treachery, politics, romance, and so on. Every character is involved in so many various ways that it gets pretty confusing really fast. And I've read the original play that it's based on, so I can only imagine how most readers would feel diving in with no background. The other note I wanted to make was, of course, the use of the third person point of view. I know that there's literally no other way to do this story because of the plot and amount of major characters. I just really prefer first person and I'm almost always bummed when a book isn't written in that style. Again - these are my personal opinions and concerns and have nothing to do with the book, writing, or the author at all. Every reader will have to form their own opinions.
That being said, this was a huge undertaking that I feel that author pulled off beautifully. I was completely drawn into the world she created and felt like I was alongside the characters while everything was happening around them. I highly recommend this book for fans of fantasy and especially fans of Shakespeare.merryfates.com. Though she’s lived all over the world, she’s finally returned to her prairie roots in Kansas with her wife. Her current projects include Tremontaineat Serial Box Publishing, YA Fantasy Strange Grace coming in 2018, and her adult fantasy debut, The Queens of Innis Lear, from Tor March 27, 2018. Visit her at tessagratton.com
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