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Wanda's Book Reviews

I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles.  (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).

Currently reading

Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Ann J. Lane
Wizard and Glass
Stephen King, Dave McKean
River of Blue Fire
Tad Williams
Richard Ford
Progress: 36/420 pages

The Queens of Innis Lear / Tessa Gratton

The Queens of Innis Lear - Tessa Gratton

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.


This book may not be everyone’s cuppa tea, but it ticked all of my favourite boxes. Dark fantasy, looming disaster, an animate natural world, intoxicating magic, and powerful women paired with emotionally strong men. Re-telling a fabulous tale—King Lear.

It was like bitter dark chocolate, black velvet with gorgeous gold embroidery, or standing by a fire in the winter time, when only one side of you can be warm at a time. The opposites: star magic and earth magic, dark and light, poison vs. nourishment. I loved the language of the trees and the idea that the island could speak to those who rule it legitimately.

Don’t go into expecting things to work out exactly as Shakespeare wrote it—Gratton has placed her own wonderful spin on the events, making things work out HER way. In fact, in the acknowledgements she states how much she hated King Lear. So she has rewritten it the way she wanted events to go.

Both the original and this version show Lear refusing to take responsibility for his kingdom and being brought down by fate for that shirking. In the original, he wants all the privileges of kingship without the responsibilities. In Gratton’s version, he wants all the privileges of fatherhood without the parenting. Neither of these things work.

I wish I had reviewed the events of Shakespeare’s play before I plunged into this novel. I didn’t recognize Ban immediately as the equivalent of Edmund. I also thought that it was inspired to give Lear’s Fool a daughter and make her an attendant to Elia, the youngest daughter.

My first 5 star book of 2019. Well worth the long wait for it at the public library.