The Queens of Innis Lear, Tessa Gratton – Book Review

Hello humans! Yesterday I reviewed The City of Brass which I thought was quite a long book. Today I’m reviewing another lengthy read from the Month of March. The Queens of Innis Lear is a lengthy 576 pages and honestly, I think it’s worth every word.  This book is going even further to prove that this year is a year of ALL THE RETELLINGS!

the queens of innis lear tessa gratton

Goodreads Summary:

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.

Find The Queens of Innis Lear on Goodreads[

[I’ve come back to edit this having thought a lot about what people have said about Tessa Gratton and recent sexual assault allegations. This is hard for me as a reviewer because I stand by what I said about the book, which I did enjoy, but I don’t stand behind an author who doesn’t address these accusations. I will always stand by victims in this situation. So until this is all sorted out, don’t buy this book, instead demand answers and comments from both the author and the publisher, who should be addressing this.]

I never studied King Lear in school, instead being forced to read Romeo and Juliet every year until my final year of A levels when I read Othello. The first time I encountered King Lear properly was last year when we went to see it at the Globe Theatre as part of our honeymoon. It was an awesome performance (though in October we had to snuggle up under a blanket).  I think I know the story of King Lear well, though not the specifics of the Shakespearian dialogue.

I love that Tessa Gratton wrote this because she didn’t like King Lear. What a way to remake a story. I completely agree with her that the three daughters should have been the main characters of this story, if you look up the dramatis personae in King Lear often they appear right at the bottom of the list! Tessa’s choice to elevate these three women to the forefront of the story and to flesh them out to be more than ‘two who just want power and one who is basically a saint’ was so wonderful and it even made me view the original play in a whole new light!

The other big change is the heavy fantasy element in this book. While the original play has some ‘works of God’ and such it’s nowhere near as thick with magic as this setting is. The divide between star work and ‘worm work’ (kind of earth magic) was done incredibly well and gave the entire book a grounding in the mystical while still feeling incredibly real.

This book does a wonderful job of getting you to fall in love with every character, no matter how wicked they may seem. There wasn’t a single character that I didn’t feel sympathy for at some point or another (even King Lear). It’s a book with many a twist and turns, one moment you’re rooting for two characters to get together, the next minute you despise one or both, it’s certainly an emotional rollercoaster (as any of my twitter followers will know).

This book is certainly long, but as with The City of Brass, it more than earns it’s right to be long. It’s a very descriptive book, sometimes teetering on the edge of being quite purple but always managing to pull you back into the action at the last minute. If you are the kind of person who enjoys politics, plots and plans then you will enjoy this. If that’s the kind of thing that threatens to bore you to death then there are plenty of other things going on to keep you occupied.

This is one of the most powerful retellings I have read this year (and I’m basically an expert at this point). I think the fact that it draws from a non-fairy-tale inspiration and isn’t afraid to call out the flaws of the original material make it a wonderfully strong example of a retelling and of a fantasy novel.

Would I recommend this book? 100%, if you have the time and the energy to get into an emotional story such as this then definitely grab a copy asap.

My rating: 5/5 stars

I received a digital advanced review copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, all opinions are my own.

What say you? What are some of your favourite Shakespeare plays? Let me know in the comments below!




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