The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton (Review)

The Queens of Innis Lear
by Tessa Gratton
Adult Fantasy
Hardcover, Paperback & ebook, 576 Pages
March 27th 2018 by Tor


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. 


“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

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My Review

THE QUEENS OF INNIS LEAR is a fantasy about the lives of three queens of Innis Lear and those tangled in their lives. It's a mix of brutal, seductive, fierce, and sweet, set in a place full of magic and complex relationships. Not only are the characters complex, but so is the island and its relationship to its people. Those who enjoy edgy, dark fantasy, will enjoy this one.

This story is so complex, with each character intricately entangled in each others' lives in subtle and strong ways. Then there is the island and its magic and how that is woven in the king's and queens' lives. There are a lot of layers. Ban the Fox is not only a spy and soldier, he is also a bastard of his home island, a wizard, and the childhood love of one of Innis Lear's princesses. Gaela is not only a fierce warrior, she is also a wife, a queen hungry for the crown, a strong sister to one, and purposefully baren. Reagan is a wizard, a queen, and deeply in love with her husband. Elia is a star priestess, loved by kings and a wizard, meek from hiding in the shadows, but will be forced to stand on her own. They are all woven together and each of their choices affects others and the magic of Innis Lear.

There was a lot of switching back and forth between the characters' points of view. There were also chapters going back in time to what occurred before that set the stage for this story. Everything was woven together to bring the climatic ending and a rebirth of this island and some of the characters. Sometimes I just wanted to follow one storyline or stay in the present. Some of the story felt drawn out and parts unnecessary. Others did not.

What I loved most about the story was Ban and Elia. I wanted so much for them and that they would somehow find happiness and contentment at the end of this story. Their lives are very bittersweet. I also loved the idea of wormmagic and of the living waters of the island. I loved how some could speak with the island, be cared of by the island and vice versa.

This story was a lot more brutal and crude in parts than I was expecting. For those who like these types of story, this aspect won't bother them. I also didn't like when a regular term or thing was used in this fantasy world. It would jar me out of the story. As an example, a queen and her court are drinking these unique drinks and then one of the characters is drinking coffee. Another would be a word used for something when before it was referred to in another way that was direct, but not crude. It seemed some things were added for sensationalism. Those are the things that I didn't care for personally, but others may not have an issue with.

In the end, was it what I wished for? A brutal, sweeping fantasy that involved the fate of the island and its people with complex characters and an ever-growing, inter-tangled plot. I enjoyed much of the story, but other parts were not for me. Fans of dark, more edgy fantasy should enjoy this one.

Content: Mature content from suggestive/detailed love scenes, violence, and some swearing.
Source: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher through Jean Book Nerd Tours, which did not require a positive review nor affect it in any way.

Check out a guest post from the author and enter the tour giveaway here.

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