The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton

Posted May 6, 2020 by Amber in Reviews / 2 Comments

The Queens of Innis Lear

The Queens of Innis Lear

by Tessa Gratton

Publisher: Tor Books on March 27, 2018
Genre: Fantasy, Retellings
Target Age Group: Young Adult
Rating: ★★

Check out this book on Goodreads

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.


Listening to the audiobook for The Queens of Innis Lear was like running a high endurance marathon when what I really needed was a quick sprint.  At nearly 30 hours long, this book is… honestly, it’s a chore.  And for myself, I don’t think there was a lot of payoff.

Quick aside, though.  I’m not saying The Queens of Innis Lear was a bad book.  The writing style was okay and the unfurling story was okay.  But there were no rewards.  I knew the ending of the book within my first hour of listening – the author more or less tell you. And while much of epic fantasy is meant to be enjoyed as part of a journey… this one?  The world and characters were not compelling enough to make me care to take the journey.  And yet, it was not quite bad enough that I wanted to DNF it.  Especially because I’d already listened to about 16 hours when I started to think about DNF-ing.  Might as well finish it, once you’ve committed that much time, right?

The Queens of Innis Lear has eight different POVs, some used more than others.  The main ones are the sisters:  Gaela, Regan, and Elia.  Beside them, you have the king, the witch, the fox, the foreign king, and Elia’s maidservant.  While I am often all about multiple POVs, this was one of those times when it felt like there were too many, and they weren’t providing interesting information, and they were slowing the book down.  Gaela – even as one of the queens – offered very little.  I suppose the same can be said for Regan, because really, this story was supposed to be all about Elia in the end… but I liked Regan.  I disliked most of the POVs – I was annoyed or bored by them.  But I love Regan’s passion.  Unfortunately, even I have to admit… she didn’t really move along the story.  Too much is too much.

While I have read a lot of Shakespeare and have read many of his plays multiple times, somehow I have managed to miss King Lear…. and I’ve never been particularly driven to read it on my own accord.  I will, someday, but I haven’t yet.  So if this is a marvellous retelling and if there are delightful references, I’m afraid I missed all except what is evident in the book title, and the madness of the king.

The magic system, while talked about often enough, never really felt explained to me.  We know it’s there, and there seems to be some rules, but there isn’t a lot of discussion around it and how, say, people learn the language of trees.  Ban’s and Regan’s spellcasting feel completely different.  I just wasn’t enthralled by this magic system, as much as I wanted to be.  It had a lot of earthy potential, but again, the book was so slow and there were so many POVs and so much repetition… very little time was spent on the actual world building outside the handful of facts we heard over and over and over again.

Just… generally… I found myself exhausted listening to this one.  Even as far as epic fantasy goes, it is very, very slow.  If you want to give it a try, but don’t connect with any of the characters in the early chapters, the chance is very good that you won’t love this one, either.

Audiobook aside:  This is read by Kate Reading, who is hugely popular in the audiobook world and reads a lot of big name titles.  I also can’t stand her reading style… she bores me!  So with a different narrator, it’s possible this may have felt like less of a chore.

Ratings Breakdown

Setting: ★★★
Plot: ★★
Characters: ★★★
Writing: ★★★
Narrator: ★★
Personal Enjoyment: ★★


Have you read The Queens of Innis Lear?  If so, was there a character/POV you liked best?  Tell me about your favorites in the comments!

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2 responses to “The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton

    • Amber

      There are a LOT of voices here for sure… even more than I like, and I love multi-POV! There are lots of dark fantasies with beautiful world-building out there, though – I hope your next one holds up to Three Dark Crowns!