The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Thank you, Macmillan, for giving me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Sometimes we forgive others because it keeps our own hearts whole, not because they deserve it or for any thought of them.
What in the world? It took me 2 months to finish this hefty tome. Now, I feel both proud and annoyed. Proud because the long and tedious journey is over, and annoyed because a lot of my time has been wasted.
Despite its 693 pages, The Queens of Innis Lear is very easy to summarize. All you have to know is that it’s King Lear meets Three Dark Crowns. It’s about three princesses who struggle to ascend the throne after their father becomes crazy.
Basically, this book could have been a great novel. The author made a lot of effort in character development, world-building, and plot construction. Unfortunately, I think that she made TOO MUCH effort. And just as the saying goes, too much of a good thing can be harmful.
The Queens of Innis Lear had too many characters, and not all of them were interesting. To be fair, I appreciated that most of them were people of color. Out of the 7 or 8 POVs, I only really cared about Princess Elia’s and King Morimaros’s since they were my favorite protagonists. The other characters were just meh in my eyes, so I wanted their chapters to be over ASAP. Too make things worse, there were just so many unnecessary flashbacks to the point that it felt like I was being spoon-fed by the author. I honestly didn’t need to know all those backstories to understand the characters’ motivations.
Of course, the plot also contributed to the book’s overwhelming thickness. Come to think of it, The Queens of Innis Lear would still be a cohesive and comprehensive novel if it had only 350 or 400 pages. More often than not, the said flashbacks got in the way of the main story line, making the pacing so dragging. The primary conflict (the fight for the throne) could have been solved much sooner. I probably wouldn’t have finished this book if I hadn’t listened to the Audible version at 1.40 narration speed.
The only thing that was perfectly or adequately done was the world-building. The island of Innis Lear had a very rich history that was rooted in magic and religion. There was a dichotomy between those who valued the stars/heavens and those who valued the earth/air. Also, Innis Lear itself was sentient in that it was capable of choosing or anointing its monarchs. All in all, I really liked how the author created her fictional world.
Nonetheless, I didn’t thoroughly enjoy this book. I kinda regret requesting a galley from the publisher because I ended up giving it a low rating. I know that shipping books from the USA to the Philippines is expensive, and this one probably weighs more than a pound. If The Queens of Innis Lear is on your TBR, I hope that you will enjoy it more than I did.