Beneath the Keep (The Queen of the Tearling #0)

Erika Johansen

Adult Fantasy

The story of a decadent kingdom descended into darkness, alliances forged under fire, and a battle over a prophecy that will change the course of history.

The Tearling has reverted to feudalism, a far cry from the utopia it was founded to be. As the gap between rich and poor widens and famine threatens the land, sparking unrest, rumors of a prophecy begin to spread: a great hope, a True Queen who will rise up and save the kingdom.

But rumors will not help Lazarus, a man raised to kill in the brutal clandestine underworld of the Creche, nor Aislinn, a farm girl who must reckon with her own role in the growing rebellion. In the Keep, the crown princess, Elyssa, finds herself torn between duty to the throne and the lure of the Blue Horizon, a group of fierce idealists who promise radical change . . . but Elyssa must choose quickly, before a nefarious witch and her shadowy master use dark magic to decide for her. It is only a matter of time before all three will be called into the service of something bigger than they have ever imagined: a fight for a better world.

-Excerpt taken from Goodreads.

Check Goodreads to see the book’s ratings.

My Opinion

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5) I read books one through three years ago when I hadn’t fully embraced fantasy yet. I remember being enthralled and fascinated by this world. This book held the story well as a prequel. It took me a bit to get into it but as I went on, I found myself really enjoying the characters and this world. There was little that I could guess to, and more that surprised me. Characters I knew from the other books made an appearance and I loved connecting them to what I remembered from before. Their backstories always endear them to me a bit more.

I loved being back in this world. I remember the charm of it and what drew me the first time. I will be buying this one for my own library. There were many characters but Johansen did a great job of separating them out enough so I did not struggle keeping them apart.

I feel I might have missed an explanation or two on “topside” vs under ground because I never quite understood there was a difference until later than I should have. Fields and crops were under ground as well as topside so I remain confused. This didn’t play into the story enough to worry too much but I would’ve liked a better explanation or more definite contrast for my sake.

AUDIO REVIEW: One of the things I rate narrators on is how much I like the different voices for characters. While I generally liked this narrator, I did not like her young child voice. Beyond that, she was great with her cadence and speed, keeping me entertained.

General content summary: The author can definitely be crude and crass, and she is not shy about descriptions. I like this about her and then sometimes I don’t. She does depict more for some situations such as violence and intimacy so if that is something you’re sensitive about, I do not recommend this series.

F words= 20+, C word= 3, language, babies sold for money, a young boy has a man grab his behind, alcohol (underage, multiple), men fight to the death in a ring (details of injuries, how they died, blood, multiple), a young woman is drugged and partially naked and a woman cuts her skin, cutting a person with a knife, throat cut (death), physical evidence of torture, drugs and addiction (multiple, death), whores (multiple, physical abuse, young girls training), captivity, physical violence (blood, broken bones), killing (throat slit, blood, stabbing, multiple, details), previous rape (no details), a man is almost raped (some details), an entire family is killed (bodies found, evidence of rape on child), attempted rape, intimacy (some details), captivity and torture, physical abuse from a parent to adult child, a young woman is purchased and tied up for a young man’s enjoyment to use her (rape assumed) as he likes (few details), starvation (multiple), rebellion/uprising, grotesque hanging (some details, multiple), poison and/or magic causes many to die (many kill themselves in various ways to avoid the pain), sexual prepping of young children (details,), hands cut off as theft punishment, dark magic (multiple), morphine assisted death, attempted baby murder, war (horrible burning, death by weapons, some details).

Thank you to Penguin Random House Audio for the complimentary copy!

**As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases. 

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