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Innis Lear #1

The Queens of Innis Lear

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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.

676 pages, ebook

First published March 27, 2018

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About the author

Tessa Gratton

69 books1,834 followers
Tessa Gratton is the author of adult and YA SFF novels and short stories that have been translated into twenty-two languages, nominated twice for the Otherwise Award, and several have been Junior Library Guild Selections. Her most recent novels are the dark queer fairy tales Strange Grace and Night Shine, and queer the Shakespeare retelling Lady Hotspur. Her upcoming work includes the YA fantasy Chaos and Flame (2023), and novels of Star Wars: The High Republic. Though she has lived all over the world, she currently resides at the edge of the Kansas prairie with her wife. Queer, nonbinary, she/any.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 979 reviews
Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.7k followers
November 25, 2019
im quite conflicted with how i feel about this book.

the prose is gorgeous and the character development is extraordinary, but this was exhausting to get through. i found myself often skimming through paragraphs, or simply setting down the book periodically as i couldnt read this in large doses.

but there was enough love for the story to get me to finish, even if it was laborious. and honestly, i dont hate the book overall!?! it actually is a very high quality retelling, this which is why im conflicted and why goodreads needs half star ratings.

but its a good read for those who are a fan of this story, or shakespeare in general, and dont mind something on the slower side of things.

3.5 stars
Profile Image for Melanie.
1,176 reviews98.9k followers
December 1, 2018

“In Innis Lear it was believed that the reign of the last queen had been predicted by the stars--and had ended, too, because of them.”

This is a reimagining of Shakespeare’s King Lear unlike any reimagining I’ve ever read before. Tessa Gratton stays very true to the original play, and really makes a feminist statement on all the themes, but she made something so unique, so powerful, and so much its own thing. And every book I read from her ensures that she is becoming one of my favorite authors of all-time. From the themes she creates, to the lyrical writing she weaves, to the beautiful stories she creates, I five star everything by her. And The Queens of Innis Lear was no different, it is a masterpiece.

King Lear is a story about a king who is ready to give up his throne to his three daughters, but they must prove that they are worthy and devoted. But the sisters decide to take their destinies into their own hands, whether that means betrayal of the King or not. And we slowly get to see the king descend into madness. And, again, The Queens of Innis Lear sticks very close to this storyline, too.

Gaela - the oldest daughter – represents ambition. Is a military commander.

“I will wear the crown, and I will get it like a king. Not as a mother and wife, but as the firstborn child, as the strongest.”

Regan - the middle daughter – represents lust. Wants to be a mother.

“The crown of Innis Lear is not made of love […] it is made of dying stars, and lying mouths.”

Elia - the youngest daughter – represents duty. Loves the island of Lear more than anything.

“You’re not the sum of your birth and stars.”

And these three girls, and everyone they’ve ever been in contact with, have had their fate decided by the stars. And they learned this the hard way from their mother, who was destined to die once Gaela turned to sixteen. In this world, the stars are blamed for people’s actions, so that they don’t have to be responsible for the horrible things that happen.

But ultimately this is a story about three girls battling against the futures that their father and the stars have in store for them. These girls are more than the legacy’s that are expected of them. They are more than the sins committed for them and in their name. People with wombs are more than those wombs and the babies they are able to carry inside them. And people are always more than good and bad, because we are complex beings with complex thoughts and actions. Seriously, this the morally grey character book of your dreams.

There are many more characters who equally broke and warmed my heart; Ban, the fox of the forest, Morimaros, the king who has only known how to be king, Brona, the witch of my dreams, and so many more. This is a full cast of players, set up on a stage that they never asked for. And this book inserts flashbacks more perfectly than maybe any other book I’ve ever read. And it creates a storyline that is complete magic.

“Maybe all three of us are cursed. Maybe this is the end of the kingdom of Lear, and the island will become something new. Maybe we never did belong here after all.”

I also want to take a second to talk about the representation. It is heavily implied that Gaela is aroace, but the word is never used on page. And I feel like every side character was implied to be pan or bi. Also, all the princesses are people of color, said to be biracial (black and white).

Overall, I just loved this. I never wanted to put it down. From the beautiful writing, to the important themes, to the enthralling story, this was just a masterpiece. I will say that this very much reads true to an Adult Fantasy, and the writing can be a bit unforgiving at times, but it is so worth it.

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Content and trigger warnings for miscarrying, domestic abuse, thoughts of suicide, suicide, self-harm, grooming, murder, death, blood depictions, rituals, animal deaths, and war themes.

Buddy read with Riley, Amy, Caidyn, Alex, & Jules! ❤
Profile Image for Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ .
1,261 reviews8,754 followers
April 5, 2018
Reviewed by: Rabid Reads


When I took Shakespeare in college, I wrote my research paper on Edmund. I argued that he had little chance to be anything but a villain given the thoughtless mistreatment of bastards at that time. He wore his illegitimacy like a scarlet letter, and even more than Hester Prynn’s, his crime was not a crime.

So of course when I heard that Tessa Gratton’s THE QUEENS OF INNIS LEAR was a fantastical retelling of KING LEAR, I leapt at the opportunity to read it for review. And when I started reading it, and the Edmund-like character, now called Ban the Fox, appeared to be less villainous and more heroic, of course I was ecstatic.


I was 2% into it, and I should know better than to make assumptions, especially about a retelling of anything by Shakespeare.

Tackling Shakespeare is a challenging endeavor. It’s freaking Shakespeare. How do you retell a story written a master? The master?

To attempt it requires more courage than the average writer can muster. But to attempt it AND rewrite it to suit your purposes, to imagine your version of events superior?

That, friends, would be HUBRIS. #shameonme

I’ve seen several reviews where the reader has said things like, after the first couple chapters, they just couldn’t get into it, and that, to me, is baffling.

TQOIL has one of the best prologues I’ve ever read.

First line:

It begins when a wizard cleaves an island from the mainland, in response to the king destroying her temple.

What begins?

Just that easily, I was hooked.

The spectacular prologue was immediately followed by an introduction to a character and an island that were so vivid, so magical, that I wanted to jump up and down shrieking, “I want to talk to trees! I want to see a bird’s dreams! I want the wind to be my messenger!”

I want to live in this world!

Characters that I’d thought I knew and knew well became infinitely more complex. More damaged. More covetous. Anger became fury. Thoughtless remained thoughtful but became loyal and well-intentioned as well. Good became naive, became heartbroken, became a strong and worthy queen.

And a story I already loved became something so much more.

Did it hurt?


Tragedy is tragedy, and Shakespearen tragedy . . . WHUH.

But Gratton so expertly crafted this expanded version that despite the respect she clearly has for this tale and its creator, she was able to give us a less bleak future. Those left standing are worthy of their survival. They’ve learned from Lear’s mistakes and don’t repeat them. They are poised to let their island heal their wounds, healing their island in return.

THE QUEENS OF INNIS LEAR more than a tragedy. It’s life lessons. How shutting yourself off from the ones who love you can be the root of your own destruction. It’s about recognizing when someone can be saved and when they can’t. It’s hard choices and unbridled hope.

It’s magic.

Jessica Signature
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,097 reviews17.7k followers
June 14, 2022
It was good, but was it worth 26 hours of my time? I don't even think most tv shows are worth that much of my time.
“The storm was not his father. It owed him nothing.”

Everyone on Innis Lear is deeply connected to the stars. Some, including the King, Lear, have begun to be ruled by them. This King Lear retelling explores his three daughters, as they fight for the crown.

That isn’t the full extent of what this book encompasses, though. Queens of Innis Lear boasts an impressively large cast of characters:
Gaela, the Goneril character, eldest and most ambitious. Aroace (word not used but definitely canonical) and there’s a lot done with her gender. Married to the Albany character; theirs is a marriage founded on ambition, but it is not uncomplicated.
Regan, the middle, yearning to be a mother. Married to the Duke of Conley, the Cornwall character; there is genuine love between them. My personal favorite.
Elia, the Cordelia character, youngest, dutiful and in love with her island. I found her… frustrating and decidedly the least dynamic of these characters.
Ban, the Fox, the Edmund character: a wizard and the banished bastard of Lear’s ally, Earl Erigal (the Gloucester character). Brother to Rory, the Edgar character and rightful heir. Has a… possibly polyamorous dynamic with Regan and Conley?
Morimaros, a nearby king of Aremoria and a beefed-up version of the king of France character. Ambitious but not unsympathetic.

There’s also Brona, the witch and lover to Earl Erigal; Kayo the Oak Earl, the princesses’ foreign-born adopted uncle; and Aefa, servant to Elia. Brona and Aefa each have points of view, and at times, I felt each of these points of view could have been left out in their role as more tangential characters. Brona is at least interesting, and relevant in her role; Aefa is not. Almost all of her point of view chapters, actually, are her observations of Elia, and though she’s not an awful character she just plays no role in the story. I frankly have no idea how this made it through editing rounds. It is excess that does not add.

This general theme of excess is exactly what I disliked about this novel. There is so much here that does not add to the novel, that distracts from solid characterization and interesting dynamics. Not every subplot needs the same detail and attention as the main conflict between the sisters. And not everything needs to be repeated three times.

Also, in terms of character writing, it’s possible I just don’t vibe with Tessa Gratton, but I find her character voices often start driving me up a wall. Specifically, Ban the Fox. He started so compelling. But his writing seems more and more as if it’s just… attempting to get us to sympathize with him. I sympathized with him. The attempts to constantly convince me made me do so less. An added romance between Ban and Elia is actually not a horrific concept, but it does not need the pagetime it gets of the two yearning after each other. It’s lovely for a time, but quickly shifts to dead boring.

I think what resonated with me the most about this book is the complexity put into the sibling dynamic between Gaela, Regan, and Elia. To Gaela and Regan, Elia was the favorite of an awful man, a murderer; they were the big sisters who stuck together, and she was the one who betrayed them in favor of their torturer. In essence, the war between them is not just about their father, but about their entire approach to life. Gaela and Regan fight against fate, hide from fate, attempt to subvert and overturn it; Elia believes in fate, worships it, attempts to work within it.

At its best, it is a book about flawed, tragic women driving themselves to ruin over a father figure who is complex at best and actively emotionally abusive at worst. At its worst, it is a 600-page monster that just got tiring.

“I don’t want to be chosen above all things, one thing most of all. I want to be a part of someone’s whole.”

Overall: This was interesting, with some sections and character things that I loved a lot. But overall, I am so tired. And maybe audiobook wasn’t the best vibe for this story, either.

CW for the general murder/war themes that come along with political fantasy along with miscarriage, suicide & suicidal ideation, and domestic abuse.

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Profile Image for Bentley ★ Bookbastion.net.
242 reviews562 followers
April 19, 2018
See this review and more like it on www.bookbastion.net!

It's been awhile since I've really challenged myself with a proper adult high fantasy novel, and I can proudly say that I'm glad it was this one that I took a chance on. A retelling of Shakespeare's King Lear, The Queens of Innis Lear faithfully draws on the same interpersonal conflicts between complex, morally gray characters found in the original play, but also infuses their world and societies with a breath of magic that serves to elevate the characters in surprising ways.

Make no mistake, this is a novel that makes you work to appreciate it. It likely helps to have at least a cursory knowledge of King Lear before you start - as part of the fun for me was watching the ways in which this book paid respect to its source material, as well as the ways in which it differs. I entered into this with slight knowledge of the original play - having read it years ago - though I did familiarize myself with the source material again through summaries before I started this. I definitely think it only helped raise my appreciation for the labor of love that was clearly worked here. 

Clocking in at 576 pages long, this is a hefty tome, full of lovely prose that is wildly descriptive without being flowery. My hat is off to Tessa Gratton, for it is clear that she is a gifted author, with an imagination that is as wild as the roots of the White Forest and a depth of skill that must have been drawn from the rootwaters of Innis Lear itself. I sometimes struggle with overly descriptive prose, but here I felt like each word was carefully chosen and suited its purpose well to paint the world of Innis Lear to life.

I also enjoyed the way Gratton uses her character's situations and legacies to her advantage to craft wonderfully gray and layered characters. Never forgetting that King Lear was itself a tragedy, nearly every character is nudged onward down a path of inevitability and destruction that reaches near fevered pitch for the last quarter of the story or so when I could scarcely put the book down.

The 3 Princesses of Innis Lear were particularly well crafted. I loved that they were women of color, sort of separated in a world apart from their culture, each other, and their family in a way that only can lead in one of two directions: to mutual understanding and acceptance of their circumstance together, or despair. 

I struggled a bit with the character of Ban the Fox though because he seemed less morally gray than just a really corrupt and selfish individual to me. I know Tessa Gratton wanted him to remain a sympathetic character, but - without spoiling who exactly he corresponds to in King Lear, or what his role was in this - I couldn't bring myself to see him that way, which sort of messed with my enjoyment of certain points involving his character. 

I will also admit that I had trouble with the pacing in the early portions of the novel. There are at least 7 POV characters that are introduced over the course of the story, with most of them being introduced straight away at the beginning. There are also flashbacks incorporated so that we might see these character years before the story begins. That much jumping around made orienting myself to the world a challenge in and of itself. However, once I was familiar with each of the core cast and who they corresponded to in King Lear, things did get a bit easier to manage.

This was a truly lovely read and I am so glad that I stuck with it through the end. 

4 out of 5 stars!

Thank you Netgalley, and Tor for approving me for an Advanced Review Copy!
Profile Image for tappkalina.
666 reviews415 followers
September 11, 2023
Uhh the audacity of this book.

It has the prettiest, most magical writing, amazing characters, interesting magic system and everything was perfect until the very end when my hands clenched into fists on their own.

The audacity of this book. Of that character. Of the author not giving me my revenge, not telling me if the thing that happend ever sees the sunlight or it will remain that character's secret forever.
She'd better be adressed it in Lady Hotspur.

(This book is slow and heavily character driven, so I won't recommend it to those who want action packed fantasy.)

Okay, so that was the rant.

This book is about three princess sisters. Two of them hates their father because they think he killed their mother, and since the youngest was too young to remember, she loves their father more than anything and because of this, her sisters don't particulary like her. Or more like they don't trust her.

Galea and Reagan (the eldest and the middle sister) has an unbreakable bond and it was so refreshing to see. They decided when they were little that Galea as the oldest will be the king and Reagan will be the queen, and since Gaela doesn't want children, she is a solider, not a mother type, Reagan's kids will be their heirs. Reagan however, can't concieve doesn't matter how hard she and her husband tries.

Elia, the youngest, doesn't care about the throne. She wants to be a star priestess, because that's what her father believes in. The stars. They tell the future, and everyone's future is in their birth contellations. But since the king turned away from the island's original magic that is in the earth, in the trees, the island is dying. All three sisters try to save it, although each of them has a different view on how they should do it.

In terms of characterization, Reagan was the strongest, she was my favorite, then Gaela, and Elia was by far the weakest. She did what others told her to, the wind blew her where it wanted, and all in all, I didn't get a full sense of who she was. She herself probably didn't know it either. Maybe that was the whole point. She tried to figure it out.
Yes, Gaela was somewhat unlikeable on purpose, maybe Reagan was too, but I honestly loved her, and since Gaela knew who she was, what she wanted and did everyting in her power to achieve it, I couldn't help but root for her.

And the end, when the threads have finally intertwined and everything made perfect sense, we got the most tragic story. Like seriously. Tragic with caps lock on. But it made this book an all time favorite, so I won't complain, other than what I have already told you at the beginning.
Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
2,064 reviews1,479 followers
June 4, 2018
A girl whose fate lies in the maps of stars. A boy whose power stems from mud. Whilst one is always gazing skyward and the other is craning downwards, neither has noticed the destruction surrounding them. A mad king is dethroned and a kingdom is divided. Three sisters are both united and divided by what they seek to rule. And the trees whisper the name of the only one who can truly save them all.

I am so impressed with this Shakespearean retelling! King Lear is a play I have read and studied multiple times but my familiarity with the basis for this novel neither hindered my reading, due to repetitiveness, nor would it make this inaccessible to those who are unfamiliar with the original.

Whilst the story-line was largely true to the particulars of King Lear, the addition of magic to this world made the story newly captivating. The court politics and family dramatics continued to intrigue, but it was the exploration into root magic and the star prophecies that made this story startlingly unique in conception and design.

I also appreciated how the darkness of raging war and the magic that entwined all was juxtaposed by the sweetness of love. The light sweepings of romance, that was diffused over the course of the novel, had bearings on and relevance to the plot, but the fantastical elements were never watered down or the focus allowed to dwell for too long on the multiple relationships, and this provided me with exactly the correct proportions that I desired.

This was both a solid retelling of a beloved classic as well as an intoxicating and unique fantasy, all on its own. I can not wait for a fuller immersion into this world, as the series progresses, as this already has the scope to continue on for tomes to come, so complex was the world and the magic system inside it.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the author, Tessa Gratton, and the publisher, Harper Voyager, for this opportunity.
Profile Image for Benjamin .
300 reviews290 followers
March 17, 2018
I received ARC in exchange for an honest review.

It was initially a 3.5 review, but I’m rounding it up to 4 because it deserves it.

Before I begin with the review, can we appreciate the cover? Both the UK and US edition are as beautiful as they are mysterious.

I got into the story with a little knowledge of what it was about. I must admit that I read the book without being very familiarized with the King Lear’s story, I had some background knowledge but that was it. Maybe that’s the main reason I didn’t enjoy it that much (?)

Too many books have been compared to Game of Thrones, yet this is one that to a certain point, makes some justice.

Plot: as I said before, my lack of knowledge about this being a retelling, may have done the experience differently. Nevertheless, I found myself dragged into the story of these three sisters and their adventures. I wouldn’t fin appropriate tot ell you more, because it’s fair that you discover by your own, the magic realism that surrounds the story.

Writing style: It’s so lyrical and poetic that it turns impossible not to fall in love with it. Reading this was magical. It’s a very slow-paced story and even though I read it in three days, I found myself thinking about quitting it. All the “suffering” will be worth at the end, though.

Worldbuilding: this is the major asset from the bool. It’s so well-done, it’s gorgeous and it gives some LOTR vibes.
You must be aware that great part of the book is about descriptions of places and character’s thoughts and points of views.
The magic system was dark and interesting, it fitted perfectly with the book atmosphere.

Characters: if I started talking about each character I liked, I think I’d never end. So, I will only review this aspect in a general way.
They are all memorable. Some of them better than others but they were so well-developed, with an interesting background and depth that gives them a sense of reality. There were also very good villains who will break your heart.
The sisters with their own personalities and the way each of them was developed, turned them into amazing characters.

Finally, despite the slow-paced rhythm, the so many descriptions and the fact that I didn’t know a lot about King Lear, I do recommend this book and I really hope this isn’t a stand-alone because that ending was so open, and I want to read more about this world.

Note: I don’t know if the printed edition has a map, it will make the experience even better.
Profile Image for Sarah.
689 reviews163 followers
July 5, 2019
This is a pretty exact retelling of King Lear in terms of the events that happen. Where it is not exact is: A) the inclusion of magic and B) the lack of humor. King Lear is really a rather dark play, that’s broken up by bits of humor from the Fool and Lear’s madness.

And that was one of the places where this book failed, hard. It’s all dark, and not even remotely funny. Combine that darkness with some very overly descriptive passages of setting and endless prattling about the magic of Lear, and the book really needed that injection of humor to pick up the momentum.

The magic felt a little pointless. Some of the individual characters harness that magic to their own benefit by talking to trees and drinking root water, but no one ever really articulates what will happen if the magic dies. Will the island sink into the sea? Will the vegetation and wildlife die off thereby making the island uninhabitable?

Without knowing that- there weren’t any stakes and little suspense. I wasn’t given a reason to care whether the magic on Innis Lear dies. So what? So Elia can’t talk to the trees anymore? So the witch of Hartfare can’t foretell the future? So those that use magic have to live a more mundane life? To talk about the magic in the setting that much and never once give the reader a reason why it mattered was a big source of frustration for me.

I enjoyed some of the characters. Elia didn’t make me feel any type of way. She felt like a very typical, fresh out of the box heroine, embodying many virtuous qualities without having a lot of depth. She’s the character we spend the most time with, and it was frustrating because she was the least interesting of the three sisters for me.

Gaela was my favorite- but even she has her issues. I enjoyed her because she’s a female warrior, and refuses to let herself be silenced by the men in her life, be they her husband or her father. My issue was that I’m not sure if she was supposed to be a transgender character. She often genders herself as male, but then none of the other characters gender her that way, and she seemed uncommitted to being male when speaking to others.

I think it was great to see gender portrayed as fluid, but I also wish this had been explored a little more or made clearer. It came off as wishy washy and because of that the message seemed to be that Gaela wanted to be a man because she wanted to be strong and powerful, and not because she really felt like a man (if that was even what she wanted). I wish it had been recognized somewhere that kings aren’t inherently stronger than queens simply because they’re male.

Aside from the above problems, the structure was a huge issue for me. We’d sometimes get some forward momentum in the story, and it would be immediately broken by a needless flashback to something that happened years ago that was already easily inferred from the previous text. They didn’t enhance the story at all and detracted a lot from the pacing. A good example is Regan and Connley. Three quarters of the way in we get a flashback to the time when they first met. By that time in the book, the reader already knows these characters are crazy in love with each other. That flashback did nothing to move the story forward and didn’t help the reader understand their relationship in any more meaningful a way than we already did. I was constantly frustrated and put off from reading whenever I’d read the header: TEN YEARS AGO.

Compounding the problem, there were way too many viewpoints. I think everyone except the Fool and Brona gets their own POV chapter at some point. It made the book feel like it lacked focus and also created a lot of distance between the reader and the characters, making it hard to connect with any one of them. I think the story would have been infinitely stronger if we’d only seen the story told from the sisters POVs and maybe Ban’s. At one point, about a hundred pages in I came to a POV chapter from Aefa. I put the book down, and every time I went to pick it up again, opened it and saw her name I immediately put it back down again. She didn’t have anything to add that couldn’t have been told from Elia’s perspective.

There were a few moments of brilliance. The later scenes between Gaela and her husband for example, where she asserts her dominance over him, were wonderful and a definite highlight of the book for me. If this had been a retelling solely from Gaela’s point of view with her remade as a sort of antihero rather than the villain I think I would have enjoyed it much more.

Finally, the writing really is beautiful, definitely worthy of Shakespeare. I just wish those words had been spent more on the storytelling than the descriptions of scenery and magic, which became immensely redundant a third of the way in.

Gratton is releasing another book next year, Lady Hotspur, that I was very excited for. However, given my experience with this I’m undecided if I’ll pick it up. I just don’t have the patience for books told this way lately.
Profile Image for Rachel.
550 reviews896 followers
January 14, 2021
The Queens of Innis Lear is a fantasy retelling of King Lear, focusing on the young generation characters (primarily Cordelia, Goneril, Regan, and Edmund) in a fictional kingdom called Innis Lear. It starts off as a faithful adaptation (think Lear but with magic)--the titular King is abdicating the throne, and he makes a shocking choice to split the crown equally between his three daughters, provided that they pass the test he sets out for them: to each declare that they love him more than their sisters. Goneril (Gaela, in Gratton's novel) and Regan (still Regan), manipulative and self-serving, both pass his test, but his youngest and most loyal daughter, Cordelia (Elia), refuses to participate and is banished.

To say I love this play is an understatement (hi, if you're new here, King Lear is my favorite play) and I'm finding it nearly impossible to untangle my thoughts on how I feel about this as a novel from how I feel about it as a retelling, so we're just going to go into an aggressive amount of detail and hope something coherent materializes. Mild spoilers forthcoming (mostly about the narrative roles of the characters within the novel, not about specific plot points).

Tonally and thematically, Tessa Gratton accesses a lot of what makes Lear so special and I found that I mostly enjoyed my reading experience for that alone. I always say that Lear is a simultaneously cosmic and intimate play, concerned both with Nature and human nature, and the way Gratton literalizes these themes into her magic system and her worldbuilding is done tremendously well. The writing too has a rich, indulgent quality that suits the tone of the book; it's slowly paced and thoughtful, which felt appropriate to the story, though I imagine others may get bored early on without a love of Lear driving you forward.

Though, that love of Lear (along with how intimately well I know this play) did end up being a double-edged sword. Gratton had my investment from the very first page without really needing to earn it, and that certainly helped me devour this 600 page book in a little over a week. But on the other hand, I started to become more and more frustrated with the ways in which Gratton engaged with this play.

First is a rather specific annoyance, that luckily only occurred four or five times, but it was jarring enough that I have to mention it. The first half or two thirds of this novel follow the plot of Lear very closely, to the point where entire scenes from the play were acted out in this book. In theory that's not something that bothers me; what does bother me is Gratton taking word-for-word dialogue from the play and modernizing it so I felt like I was reading No Fear Shakespeare. 

Here are a couple of direct side-by-side comparisons so you can see what I mean. Gratton's sentences are first, Shakespeare's are second:

"He has always loved Astore rather more than Connley."
"I thought the King had more affected the Duke of Albany than Cornwall."

"Nothing will come from nothing. Try again, daughter."
"Nothing can come of nothing. Speak again."

"I cannot heave my heart into my mouth, Father. I love you... as I should love you, being your daughter, and always have. You know this."
"Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave/ My heart into my mouth. I love your Majesty/ According to my bond; no more nor less."

"It is only a note from my brother, and I've not finished reading it. What I've read so far makes me think it's not fit for you to see." 
"I beseech you sir, pardon me. It is a letter from my brother that I have not all o'er-read; and for so much as I have perus'd, I find it not fit for your o'erlooking."

It's this but it would go on for entire conversations. Here’s the thing: this is pointless and distracting and when you go up against Shakespeare on a sentence by sentence level, you’re going to lose every time. 

Now, let's get into the characters, because that's where my real problem with this book lies.

I found Gratton's portrayal of the Edmund character (Ban) endlessly frustrating. You could see her bending over backward to humanize Edmund, making these minor, pointless adjustments (Ban being older than his legitimate brother rather than younger, meaning his bastardy is the only thing standing in the way of his inheritance; Gloucester [Errigal] insisting that Edgar [Rory] inherit even after his alleged betrayal of his father) to amp up the reader's sympathy, but frankly, a lot of Edmund's charm was lost in the process. Edmund is my favorite character and I know I'm not alone in holding that opinion: the reason people love Edmund is because of his complexity and contradictions; he's already deeply human in the play and I felt that Gratton flattened that out of him in an attempt to make his transgressions to come from a play of moral purity.

The parallel/inversion between Edmund and Cordelia in the play is fascinating to me--both youngest children, both loved by their fathers, one good, one evil, their fates intertwined in a chilling way. That Gratton chose to explore this connection was an exciting choice for me, but I felt that turning it into a romance added nothing, and in fact lost quite a bit, especially when it came at the narrative expense of what I think a lot of readers find to be a much more compelling dynamic; that between Ban and Morimaros (the King of France figure). (That's another thing. This book had every opportunity to be explicitly queer, but there were only ever hints and whispers of queerness on the page, which I found frustrating.) 

If I were to detail every single character-related annoyance I had we'd be here for a while, so here are some other highlights: I felt that Edgar (Rory) was underutilized and misrepresented when he was on the page. Aefa is the single most pointless character I have read in anything, ever, and the fact that her POV chapters weren't cut suggests to me that the editor just gave up. The old generation characters were all incredibly one-note; if you want to write a retelling focusing on the younger generation, that's fine, but King Lear himself shouldn't need to have a POV chapter to be a complex and interesting character. 

But we're getting rather nitpicky now so let's zoom back out. This book was marketed as a "feminist King Lear retelling" and a word that I've seen a lot of people use to talk about it is "subversive." But my issue is that it was not, at all. As I mentioned above, the first half of the book follows Lear with dogged faithfulness, and after that, things start to go off the rails. Which is fine, fun, exactly what I'm here for! If I wanted to read King Lear I'd just read King Lear. But when Gratton started taking control of the narrative, her choices, to me, started to become more and more unwieldy. Nothing she did felt to me like a direct, deliberate subversion of the play; it felt like she had more interest in telling her own story with these characters than doing so as a means to engage with the original text, and that's something that I think makes for an unsuccessful retelling. I don't think you need to have complete and utter reverence for the original, but I think a love for the play coupled with a clear vision for how to engage with it is necessary. I felt--especially after reading an interview with Gratton--that her aim here was as nebulous as 'King Lear but with better female characters', and as a staunch Lear fan, I was rooting for this book but it really let me down in the end.

But I will end on a positive note (sort of): while I felt that Elia was as stiff and uninteresting as cardboard, I thought Gratton succeeded in doing some very interesting things with Gaela and Regan; Gaela particularly. The ways in which Gratton played with gender in Gaela's chapters were dynamic and exciting and I think that along with the aforementioned magic system, Gaela's character is this novel's primary strength. 

This is already the longest review I've written in ages and I'm not sure how to end it. Bottom line, do I recommend this book? While I appreciate you sticking with me for this long, probably in hopes of me answering that question, I'm sorry to say that I really don't know. I think you should be interested in Lear but not love Lear, maybe that's the key to unlocking the optimal reading experience.
Profile Image for Kristina.
274 reviews78 followers
August 25, 2023
I'm completely blown away by The Queens of Innis Lear. This is one of the most well written books I've ever had the pleasure of reading. The prose was absolutely gorgeous and the story was so well crafted and complex. It's told through multiple perspectives and I thought every single character was compelling. Everyone is morally gray but you definitely understand why the characters make the choices they do.The intricacies of all the character relationships and politics was brilliant.

Do I think this book will work well for everyone? Definitely not. It's very character driven, the pacing is pretty slow, and there isn't much action. The prose is also very flowery and dense. If these are things you tend not to like, you may not want to pick this one up. However, if any of this sounds appealing to you PLEASE read this book. To me, it was a masterpiece.
Profile Image for SAM.
253 reviews5 followers
September 26, 2019
I won't deny that the book is beautifully written. The writing is elegant and rich with its descriptions and the first part, which leads up to the big gathering, sets up the story nicely. Or so you'd think. Because after the brilliant build up of part 1 nothing happens! The writing continues to be beautiful but the appeal wears off when the drama and plot starts to mimic a really boring soap opera. They're supposed to be fighting tooth and nail for a kingdom but they spend most of the book bitching and whining about each other. By page 400 my patience had worn thin and so i skimmed the rest. All style and zero substance.
Profile Image for Carolyn (on vacation).
2,251 reviews642 followers
March 28, 2018
This review is for a 'preview excerpt' I received from Netgalley. I didn't realise that it wasn't the full book and was puzzled when the book stopped abruptly. So this is a review of only the first section of the book (around 1/2 judging by the full length of the book).

This is fantasy retelling of "King Lear" on an island that has it's flow of earth and water magic blocked by a king who prefers to read portents in the stars. He fails to see that the land is becoming barren and the crops are failing as he himself falls into madness while his eldest daughters plot against him.

Told in a slow, lyrical style, it took a little while to get into the plot and the second half of the excerpt was definitely better paced than the first. Many of the characters are recognisable as those from King Lear including the shadowy, enigmatic Ban the Fox, a wizard in touch with the magic of the trees and the water, who is the banished bastard son of Lear's ally, Earl Erigal and the childhood playmate of Lear's youngest daughter, Elia. Lear and his three daughters are all recognisable and play the roles assigned them in the original play. So an enjoyable read with a good fantasy element. I think it will be popular with GoT readers and I am looking forward to finishing the book once I get hold of a complete copy.

With thanks to Netgalley and the publisher Macmillan Tor-Forge for a excerpt of the book to read.
Profile Image for Zoe Stewart (Zoe's All Booked).
309 reviews1,454 followers
July 6, 2022
(Re-read June 2022 for a vlog. Rating bumped up to 2.5. Slightly less meh than it was last time, but it was just so damn slow. Still sad about no map though.)


I don't know if I was in a slump to begin with when I started this book, or if it put me into a slump. Either way, it took too damn long for me to read it.

Everything was just meh. I finished reading this yesterday, and I've already forgotten most of what happened. It wasn't terrible, but nothing stood out. I didn't care enough about the characters to like or dislike them for most of it, but when I cared enough to dislike them, immediately post scene-where-I-started-to-care, I went back to being indifferent. Twas a vicious, vicious circle.

The only thing I felt more than meh about was the world-building, although I wasn't in love with it. I would've enjoyed it so much more if there was a map because I am trash for maps, but there wasn't one, soooo I'm sad.

I honestly don't even remember much about how it ended, just that it was also meh. It wasn't that it was abrupt, but for some reason, I was expecting...more? Who knows why, since the rest of it was meh. Eternal optimism to the bitter end maybe? That's one way to set yourself up for failure with a book like this.

I am one big blob of meh right now.
Profile Image for Natalie Monroe.
596 reviews3,588 followers
Want to read
October 11, 2016
A retelling of King Lear in the thread of Game of Thrones?

Profile Image for Liz.
600 reviews504 followers
May 1, 2018
What a wonderfully crafted piece of literature this novel is! Not an easy one, mind you. It took me five days to read it because of how dense and complex, how thought-provoking, it is.
But let's start at the beginning, shall we?!

Using works of the Bard for inspiration is quite a risky endeavor, you know? Shakespeare's plays, all of them, have a multitude of layers and allow for all types of interpretations but living up to their standard is actually quite hard, I would imagine. Gratton, however, did an amazing job in not only using the original wisely but also adding more layers to the story that left me longing for more. But more to that later, let me talk a bit more about Shakespeare.
I personally always found King Lear to be the saddest and most tragic of Shakespeare's tragedies so I was fully aware of what I was getting into when I started this novel. Or so I thought. In some way this rendition of the play is even sadder and more tragic, so hereby I inform you - it might hit you right in the feels.
Jokes aside though, I would recommend familiarising yourself with the play - at least read the summary so you know what you're getting into - before reading The Queens of Innis Lear. I went so far as to open my copy of the play occasionally and compare how the scenes played out.
Now about the novel.

The magic of the world of TQoIL is utterly mesmerising. From the fact that it consists of two parts, which are technically opposing each other to the fact that the entire island of Innis Lear is basically pure magic, I was completely captivated by it. I'd read any book the author would write set in this world for the magic alone, it is that good. Complex and mysterious and, well, magical. There are rituals and prices to pay and communication that needs to occur, not just a wave of one's hand and things happen as in some less well-developed fantasy.
Hand in hand with the magic go the atmosphere and world-building of the novel. Both brilliant. Dark and twisted, the atmosphere conveys a sense of impending doom from the very beginning and until the end (don't forget, it's a tragedy!) so that some scenes are outright disconcerting because of how messed up and morally...wrong they are. In case I wasn't explicit enough - the book has a dark, sinister vibe and I would very much consider it epic fantasy for it is most definitely not a light, easy read.
Concerning the world-building: I want to know more about the Third Kingdom, and all the other kingdoms, and what happens in the Innis Lear/other kingdoms relationships. The world-building is great, I don't have a single negative thing to say about it.

The plot doesn't progress very fast, if you take into account that it's a standalone, but that didn't bother me either. Regarding how it progressed, well, it's inspired by King Lear, enough said.
Funnily enough several other reviewers stated how easily the prologue got them hooked, but that wasn't the case for me at all, in fact it took me a few chapters to really get into the novel which I think is due to the writing. The write style is undoubtedly gorgeous and intricate and evocative, but at times it was a bit too much for me. Some formulations could have been shorter, some scenes were too lengthy and occasionally it was over-detailed, but that didn't bother me too much either.

And the characters...oh boy, the characters. Some of them are downright ruthless, not even morally gray anymore. Just morally and mentally completely messed up. I don't think there is a single traditionally 'good' character in this novel, everyone is to some degree morally gray and only the strongest, the best, survive. There are so many fantasy novels that are compared to the Song of Ice and Fire for some unexplainable reason but this one truly can be compared to G.R.R. Martin's work in its wickedness and sheer brutality. Gratton, naturally, added characters that aren't in the play but all of them are well-rounded, interesting and have an agenda, one that is relevant for the plot progression and actually memorable, so no complaints here either.
I just hated Edmund - in this novel called Ban the Fox - with as much passion as in the play. God, I loathe this character in both the play and the novel. I won't comment on the others separately, apart from saying that Lear's behaviour in the novel is perhaps even more disturbing than in the play, because I don't want to spoil anything.

The only tiny thing I did not quite enjoy in the novel were the occasional third-person omniscient narrator interludes that happened some four or five times through the novel. While I totally understand that the information given in them is necessary the sudden distance they created repeatedly threw me off and I think particularly the last one could have been done differently. Either through another character's perspective or through the eyes of the one whom it actually concerns, but this type of narration for the epilogue did not sit well with me.

Highly recommended. Seriously. Highly. Recommended.
Profile Image for Acqua.
536 reviews192 followers
February 21, 2020
The Queens of Innis Lear is a fantasy retelling of King Lear.

It begins with the birth of an island, with one of the most breathtaking prologues I've read in a while. It draws you in, and you'll need that, because this may be a well-written story with multilayered characters and intricate political dynamics, but it's also a very slow tome of almost 600 pages and the retelling of a tragedy.

I decided to read this because I loved Tessa Gratton's Before She Was Bloody story in the anthology Three Sides of a Heart. The main strengths of The Queens of Innis Lear are the one I expected: clear, lyrical writing, complex worldbuilding and characters I cared deeply for. I would read more set in this world torn between star worship and root magic, forever searching a balance; I want to see more descriptions of cities and castles and old rootwater wells - this story may be a tragedy, but this is one of the most beautiful fantasy worlds I've ever seen. And even when the characters and their bad decisions frustrated me, I understood their motivations.

The Queens of Innis Lear is the story of a mad king, his three daughters and heirs to the throne, and a young man - a bastard, a fox, a witch - who is returning to Innis Lear after a long exile in Aremoria. It's mainly a story about politics and family, character-driven, and I believed in these characters' relationship and rivalries. I liked almost all of them, even the ones who kept betraying everything and everyone who came in their way.

This book is not, however, without its weaknesses. There were many unnecessary scenes, flashbacks and even some unnecessary PoVs, which definitely didn't help the already slow pacing. This is probably the slowest novel I've read this year, and just like most books over 500 pages, it could - should - have been shorter.
I loved the diversity, as this is about three biracial black princesses and there are many casual mentions of main and side characters being bisexual, but I really did not like what this book did with Gaela's character. She is the elder sister, she's heavily coded as aromantic asexual, and she is every single aromantic and asexual stereotype ever. She's described as cold and heartless, she disdains everything that has to do with sex or romance, feels no emotions but anger, and also . It was unnecessary, and she was probably the weakest character in the whole story; her PoV was very monotonous.

One of the things I loved the most about this book was the ending. It's been a long time since a book made me really believe the main characters were in danger, and it also delivered - just like in King Lear, the ending is not happy, but I thought it was perfect, not as hopeless as it could have been.
Profile Image for Justine.
1,158 reviews312 followers
May 1, 2018
I enjoyed this very much. The writing has a stylized feel, with each point of view chapter feeling in a way like a self-contained scene. It is a retelling based on King Lear, but while it's been so long that can't recall much detail from the original play, my favourite retelling is the film Ran, by Akira Kurosawa.

This book is slightly less dramatic than Ran, but still very engaging. It is very much the story of the daughters rather than the King, and particularly Elia, the youngest, but I loved the amount of time and care given to each of the characters in the story. There were a few pieces here and there that I thought could have been edited down slightly, but for the most part, I thought this was a very successful venture. This is Gratton's first adult fantasy, and my first book of hers, and I would definitely pick her up again.
Profile Image for Hiu Gregg.
113 reviews158 followers
March 27, 2018
I received an e-ARC from the publisher, HarperVoyager, through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

What to say about The Queens of Innis Lear?

This is a book based on Shakespeare's famous tragedy, King Lear, though it is not a book that is defined by that play. I must admit that I haven't an intimate knowledge of King Lear, but I know enough about the play to recognise some departures from the "source material" — and I use that term very loosely since this book is entirely its own story.

The most obvious of these departures is the fact that this book is set in the harsh, magical land of Innis Lear rather than England. Innis Lear is an island ruled by two magics: that of the earth and trees, and that of the stars. King Lear has forsaken the magic of the island in favour of that of the stars, cutting off the magical rootwater wells that give the people their connection to the earth and trees.

Lear believes in his star prophecies with a religious fervour, allowing them to guide his life and dictate how he should treat people based on the stars at their birth. A star prophecy foretold that Lear's wife would die on the day of their eldest daughters 16th birthday... and that prophecy was fulfilled.

Understandably, this had quite the impact on the king's relationship with his children.

The book follows the stories of Lear's three daughters — as well as a bastard wizard, a fool's daughter, and a king — as their mad father looks to give up his throne.

In a lot of books the antagonists are antagonistic even when we read from their point of view. We are constantly aware that they are the villain, and so we very rarely get a chance to truly see things from their perspective.

This is absolutely not the case in Innis Lear.

Every character here is the hero of their own story. Every character has their own hopes, ambitions, vulnerabilities, flaws, and personality. Tessa Gratton was able to make me feel sympathetic for all of them - even those I didn't like. This is multi-POV fantasy done right. In fact, I'd go as far to say that this is one of the best uses of multi-POV storytelling that I've ever seen, to the extent that while reading, I didn't really want to see anyone come out on top, because I knew that it would be at the expense of someone else.

This is a story about love, when you get right down to it. An exploration of love in all its forms — which are not always as happy and joyful as you might expect. Obsessive love, the loving of one thing over another, the fanatical love of religion, all-inclusive and ever expanding love, love from a position of power, and the denial of love where it should be given.

But with love comes loss. And with loss comes hurt, pain, and rage. Each of our characters deal with these emotions in their own way, and we are lucky enough to be pulled along for the ride.

In the other reviews I've seen for this book, there has a lot of praise for the prose. It is beautiful, if you are a fan of long, flowing descriptions. The author really knows how to verbally paint a scene. But what really impressed me about this book was the dialogue.

The dialogue in The Queens of Innis Lear is absolutely world class. It burns at times with emotion and passion, breathing life, fire, and personality into each of the characters.

I should mention that this is a story that takes a while to immerse yourself in. The story seems a little awkward at first as it tries to find itself. For the first third of the book, I wasn't really sure that I was enjoying myself. But at some point the current of the story was enough to sweep me off my feet, and then I was racing down the river of one of the finest explorations of character I've ever read.
Profile Image for Wanda Pedersen.
1,929 reviews386 followers
April 5, 2019
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.
Profile Image for Ellie.
578 reviews2,202 followers
July 20, 2018
3.5 stars

RTC but this is ridiculously, ridiculously hard to solidly review because I am torn.

Is it a good book? Yes.
It’s got gorgeous worldbuilding, star prophecies, Shakespeare inspiration, the most gorgeous prose ever, strong female leads

But it is long. SO incredibly long. And this makes it exhausting to get through.

If this was cut down and paced quicker, this could’ve easily been a 5 Star for me.

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review

A full review will also be available soon on my blog
Profile Image for Joy D.
2,073 reviews240 followers
March 29, 2018
Approximate re-telling of Shakespeare’s King Lear in the form of an adult fantasy with women in many of the central and supporting roles. The writing was elegant, with lush descriptions creating an atmospheric setting for this fantasy world. I could picture the jagged cliffs of this island country, the ships from faraway lands docking at port, and the majestic castles. It seemed like a story set in medieval times, with no invented creatures, where the island, trees, and wind are sentient. The magical elements were complex and fascinating. The characters were well-developed. The world and the plot were built very slowly, with most of the action saved until late in the book.

Many back stories were interspersed throughout, flashing back various numbers of years into the past. These flashbacks, I felt, were unnecessary, as most of these topics had already been explained in the narrative. It was also a bit repetitive. For example, I didn’t need to be reminded many times over that one of the characters is a bastard or one of the sisters envisions herself a man. These inclusions made the book a bit lengthy, at just under 600 pages. The ending appears to setup a sequel, which may or may not appeal to you depending on whether you like series. I tend to enjoy stand-alone stories more.

Themes include the value of balance in life, the dangers of obsession, the desire to be accepted for oneself, and the many facets of love. Key components of the plot involve madness, treachery, romance, political intrigue, power, control, and forgiveness. Overall, I enjoyed it, and I don’t think it is essential to know Shakespeare’s King Lear story to appreciate it. I would definitely read another book by this author. Recommended to readers of fantasy that don’t mind a non-linear timeline and a gradual build-up without a great deal of action. Contains language, not-overly-graphic sex, and violence.

I received a complete version of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in return for a candid review. I hope the final version includes a map.

Memorable quotes:
"Ban had learned not to put off unpleasant tasks, for they tended to only become more unpleasant with the stall."

"She was ready, if not to forgive, then to understand. And that was ever the first step."

"For what was kindness, but offering comfort where none was owed?"

"If it makes your world smaller, it isn't love."
Profile Image for Renee Godding.
642 reviews632 followers
May 4, 2020
5/5 stars

“It begins, too, with a star prophecy.
But there are so many prophecies read on the island of Lear that to say so is as good as saying it begins with every breath.”

I think it’s only fair that a book so seeped and surrounded by starmagic and prophecies ends up with a full nightsky of stars from me. If I had more than 5 to give, I would…
This is one of those rare books that completely and utterly pulled me in to the point where, for a few days, Innis Lear was almost as much my world as my own. Despite only just finishing it (and not having the chance to let it simmer in the back of my mind for month on end as many of my favourites do) I feel confident enough to already award it a place on my All-time-favourites shelf. I don’t think this is going to be topped by any adult fantasy any time soon…

If my love has peaked your interest for The Queens of Innis Lear , please know that this book isn’t a crowd-pleaser that will appeal to almost everyone. It’s a dream for character-driven readers, who are okay with more lyrical writing, a slower pace and not having things about the world or magic explained to you right away… All of those are thing I happen to love, but I can understand how other people can find them confusing, slow or boring. If that latter sounds like you, this might bring you more frustration than good. If you, like me, do enjoy this branch of fantasy, please give this one a shot. I hope it’s as magical for you as it was for me.
Shelved as 'did-not-finish'
February 3, 2019
free copy provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

DNF at 35%

Last summer, I read an excerpt that was available on NetGalley. At that time, I didn't realize that it wasn't the complete book. I started it again in januari, but it doesn't appeal to me as much anymore. I'm not going to force myself through a book if I'm not enjoying it that much.

I didn't realize this was not the full book when I requested it (should have looked better, my own fault) however, I did enjoy what I read so far, Really want to finish reading this, but have to pause it right now since I don't have the full book.
Profile Image for Sentranced Jem.
1,118 reviews581 followers
March 29, 2018


Title: The Queen Of Innis Lear
Author: Tessa Gratton
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Publication date: March 27,2018

OK, I am going to be totally honest with you here and say that initially this book is what you'd say is a cover buy.
Now, This is literally what happened "Oooo Cool Cover! Ohhh I love the synopsis... but look at that cover!"

Now that that picture is going of the way, I'll honestly say that this book, The Queen Of Innis Lear is a dream to read. I would advice that you read a para or two just to familiarise yourself with King Lear's story because it does help (It's not mandatory that you read it but it does help).
Now, Back to this beauty of a book! The Queen Of Innis Lear is beautifully written. I don't know how she did it but the storyline and the characters in this book are complex, diverse and to be honest, the whole things works like a well oiled machine.

Having said that, The Queen of Innis Lear is slightly on the slower pace when it comes to storytelling but If you hang on to it, I swear you have a gem of a book here. This writing of this book is almost poetically lyrical. The vastness and character descriptive is amazing in this book.

If you haven't read this book yet, read it! I highly recommend you to read this book because The Queen Of Innis Lear has captivated me!

Happy Reading!

4.5 new1

For more ...

883 reviews39 followers
March 27, 2018
Thank you to NetGalley and Macmillan - Tor/Forge for a digital galley of this novel.

This is a retelling of the Shakespeare play King Lear mainly identifiable by the leading characters of Lear and his three daughters along with his decision to carve up his kingdom to benefit the daughters who can express their love for him better than her sisters. The main problem is that you have to read way, way into the book before you get to that pithy bit of Shakespeare's maneuvering of characters.

The Queens of Innis Lear has wonderfully lyrical prose and yet I came away feeling very ambivalent about the characters. I couldn't seem to work up any emotional attachment for them or their predicament-of-the-moment. There is earth magic in here - as in being able to communicate with the trees and elements - which I normally enjoy and liked here too. There are all sorts of misunderstandings about events that happened in the past and we are given many flashback opportunities to see for ourselves what actually happened but only after we have watched characters struggle with their misconceptions of those events over long segments of the book.

When I'm reading a novel and find myself frequently wondering how many pages there are in the book, well, that's not usually a good sign. For me this one is firmly in the 3 star category. I'm glad I read it (even though it took me a rather long time to get through it), but have zero desire to read it a second time.
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