cover image Beneath the Keep

Beneath the Keep

Erika Johansen. Dutton, $27 (448p) ISBN 978-1-5247-4272-0

Johansen delves into the forces that tore the kingdom of Tearling apart in this captivating prequel to her Queen of the Tearling series. Queen Arla Raleigh is widely feared for her oppressive rule over Tearling. When a prophecy reveals that a True Queen will rise and free the kingdom from Arla’s tyranny, Arla takes an albino witch named Brenna into her court to confer with her about prophecies. Meanwhile, Arla’s daughter, Elyssa, becomes convinced that she is the prophesied queen messiah and joins a socialist rebel group called Blue Horizon. As politics divide Tearling, discontent spreads among farmers over their horrendous living and working conditions, sparking an uprising in the countryside—and Brenna takes advantage of all the chaos to bring both queen and princess under her control. Johansen pulls off an impressive feat in crafting a spellbinding prequel that works just as well as a standalone. Though it takes some time to get oriented, the steadily building tension carries the story forward. New and old fans alike are sure to be taken in. Agent: Dorian Karchmar, WME. (Feb.)