REVIEW: The Queens of Innis Lear – Tessa Gratton ARC

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Tessa Gratton’s debut epic adult fantasy, The Queens of Innis Lear, brings to life a world that hums with ancient magic, and characters as ruthless as the tides.

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.’

576 pages
Published March 27th 2018
by HarperVoyager

~Received from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I am not associated with the author or publisher in any way. My opinion is completely unbiased and entirely my own~

My rating: 2*

I feel conflicted when rating this title because upon reflection, there’s much on offer here that I really enjoyed. However I have to be entirely honest and say that I found reading The Queens of Innis Lear incredibly laborious for the most part.

In the interest of a balanced review I’d say that the beginning and ending are really strong, the authors interpretation of the characters was great and the world building and magic system were fascinating. Also the story’s inevitable conclusion had the potential to be really satisfying if only it hasn’t taken so long to get there.

Overall I’d say that the books biggest downfall for me was that far too many characters were given a POV, resulting in a lot of time being given to a lot of talk, with characters somehow failing to progress at all throughout the very large middle section of the book.
Another issue was the use of constant flashbacks as a narrative tool. This served the story well when first introducing characters and establishing the relationships between them, however it became tiresome as the story was working towards a conclusion and I feel shouldn’t be necessary at that point.

I’m left with the over all feeling that if The Queens of Innis Lear had been trimmed down by about half of its pages, it would have provided a significantly more concise narrative and would have been much more impactful for it.
Instead it became extremely repetitive and took a long meandering route to essentially get from A to B.

If you’re already familiar with the story of King Lear, this is an interesting take on it. However if you’re unfamiliar with the original work and are looking for a well-rounded story of its own merit, then you might find this lacking unfortunately.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an opportunity to review this title.

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