Book Review: The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton

29982722A 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.

So, the ideas behind this book are super interesting. Theoretically, if you told me what Tessa Gratton wanted to do with the sisters and their relationship with their mother and how that drove a wedge between them, and the Edmund-equivalent (Ban)’s relationship with the Lear family is super smart and very intriguing. King Lear does so much wrong by its female characters and I heartily applaud any effort to try and rectify that.

However, I felt a lot was lost in the execution. It took foreeeever for me to get through this book. I almost always felt uninvolved, like the story was keeping me at a distance instead of pulling me into its urgency. I can’t explain it as well as I would like, but the plot just wasn’t going fast enough.

I also frequently didn’t feel that connected to the characters.For a book that spent a lot of time talking about how the characters felt, it did precious little to pull me in and make me care about their inner lives. There was a lot of me seeing how I could hypothetically get really invested in relationships (especially the relationship between Ban and Elia), but when I was actually reading about them, my interest just couldn’t be sparked.

Which is a real shame. Because there’s a really good story here, layered under too much mental hemming and hawing and not enough plot, and characters that say really interesting things but never rise out of the ink and paper pages. It’s almost like it would work better in a visual media… for instance, a play.

Verdict: skip it

What do you think about gender politics in King Lear? In Shakespeare in general? What are your favourite Shakespeare re-imaginings?

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One thought on “Book Review: The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton

  1. Pingback: July Wrap-Up | Death By A Thousand Paper Cuts

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