‘The Queens of Innis Lear’ spoiler-free review!

the queens of innis learPeople. If you have not yet read this book, please do yourself a favour and pick it up. If you call yourself any kind of fan of fantasy or Shakespeare or just damn good writing, you NEED this book in your life.

I buddy read this book with Melanie, who is one of the most beautiful souls I’ve ever known, and I feel like it just increased my love for this book even more. If you ever get the opportunity to buddy read with this girl, do not hesitate!

And now, let’s talk about this awesome book!

What the book is about…

Tessa Gratton’s debut epic adult fantasy, The Queens of Innis Lear, brings to life a world that hums with ancient magic, and characters as ruthless as the tides.

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, star-blessed 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.

What I thought of it…

I did not expect to adore this so much! Oh my gosh, it was fantastic. Gratton totally captured the timeless feel of Shakespeare, making this book feel both ancient and relevant to modern life at the same time.

At first, I was nervous because the writing felt very dense and almost Tolkien-esque in its description. Don’t get me wrong, it was gorgeous; I just felt like I really had to concentrate. However, I soon got into the flow and could NOT stop reading! It didn’t take me long at all to realise just how amazing this was going to be.

I really loved the multiple perspectives and the use of flashbacks; I feel like Gratton treated us to a wonderful level of detail that added so much to my understanding of the characters’ motivations. Everyone was so morally grey and I was LIVING for it.

I adored the way Gratton created these three unbelievably strong women who all showed this strength in different ways. Elia in particular was glorious. And I’m really impressed at the level of diversity Gratton managed to fit into her novel (without it feeling in any way forced). All three queens were POC and one of them was asexual, which was so refreshing to see.

Gratton’s writing is so sumptuously gorgeous. I have not read King Lear but I had an idea of what to expect and this seems to be quite a faithful reimagining. Obviously, any attempt to rework Shakespeare is ambitious but I really love what Gratton did here. The drama was REAL! There were times when the Shakespearean vibe really came through in the dialogue and action.

I love books where the setting is almost a character in itself, and that has never been more true than it is here. I was head-over-heels in love with the concept of sentient trees and the nature-based magic system! Honestly, the level of detail was stunning and it was clear that Gratton had done a lot of research to create such a rich world. World-building is always one of my key factors in giving a 5-star rating and this book is so deserving of it.

I genuinely could not have loved this book more. If you’ve been putting this one off because of its size (like I did), stop being silly and pick it up now!

the queens of innis lear

What are some of your favourite Shakespeare retellings? Or books with amazing settings? Let me know in the comments! x

14 thoughts on “‘The Queens of Innis Lear’ spoiler-free review!

  1. I have a hard time with Shakespeare in general. My college Shakespeare prof wasn’t very good, so I never got a handle on it. I do enjoy movie retellings, though, such as 10 Things I Hate About You, Warm Bodies, Just One of the Guys, and there was a modern Much Ado About Nothing that came out in 2012 that I liked.


    • Aww that’s a shame. I think school teachers can definitely make the difference in whether a student connects with Shakespeare. Thankfully, mine were great! You’re right, 10 Things I Hate About You is such a great movie retelling. And I loved that version of Much Ado About Nothing! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Such a pretty book! I’ve been putting this one off because I want to read King Lear first so that I get all the retelling references. I intend to get to it soon, though!

    My favorite Shakespeare re-telling is still West Side Story. Love that musical.


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