*The article contains spoilers from the book: The Fate of the Tearling
The Red Queen is holding Kelsea at the beginning of “The Fate of the Tearling,” and the Mace, who is in charge of the Queen’s Guard, is acting as regent while she is away.
More images of life before the Tearling as we know it appears to Kelsea; this time, she sees them through the eyes of Katie Rice, a teenager born shortly after the Crossing. Row Finn and Gavin, also known as The Fetch, are friends of hers. We are already familiar with them from the previous books in the series and their ominous interactions in the prologue. Here, we learn more about their backstories, including why they are both alive hundreds of years after they should have passed away.
When the Tear community was founded, Row Finn, the man currently terrorizing the Tearling by kidnapping kids and reanimating them as some sort of vampire/zombie hybrids, wasn’t a fan of the Tears. He disapproved of William Tear’s aspirations for the community and yearned to return to the traditional ways of life that prevailed before Crossing.
William Tear takes on Katie to serve as a guard for Jonathan. Since violence and weapons are prohibited in the Tear, they must be kept a secret. As a result, a group of recruits, including the man who will eventually become The Fetch, are privately trained to be able to defend him should the need arise. Row and Katie are close friends, but she is not permitted to tell him about her assignment because he is not receiving training. There is an unbridgeable divide between them as a result of the secrecy.
Row imagines ruling the town. He’s certain that the stone contains magic and wants to obtain a sapphire that looks exactly like the one that hangs at William’s throat. He poses as a religious figure and delivers passionate sermons to win over the other residents of the village. Katie hates the man he’s turning into, especially because his conversion hasn’t made him stop his wrong ways.
William exits the Tear to cross again because he needs to find doctors for Lily, who is once again with a child. The few who know that he was killed during the attempt want to keep his passing quiet in case it sparks a commotion, putting Jonathan in control of the Tear. Then, following a failed cesarean attempt, Lily dies during giving birth (as, supposedly, does her child, though this is never explicitly mentioned).
In the end, we discover that Row was William’s son and that his animosity for the Tears resulted from being left behind. When Row’s expectant mother, Sarah, was given preference by William for Lily, Jonathan appeared to be his only child.
Row kills Jonathan, and Katie flees after cursing Gavin, Row, and the other people involved in Jonathan’s murder, making them live forever (presumably until they atone for their sins, though this isn’t explicitly mentioned either). It’s unclear whether Katie is carrying Row or Jonathan’s child.
The flashbacks are this book’s main emphasis. Yes, some events occur during Kelsea’s lifetime, but Row is largely responsible for them, which wouldn’t make sense if his backstory hadn’t been revealed.
Row’s sinister kids attack the Red Queen’s palace. The Red Queen’s people are all slain. She rescues Kelsea from the dungeons out of desperation, and the two flee together. Then The Red Queen is bitten by one of the young vampires, but instead of letting the bite transform her, she convinces Kelsea to put her down.
Albino, companion of Thorne Brenna, breaks out of the New London jail. Brenna finds Kelsea and makes an attempt to kill her, but Ewen, Kelsea’s hapless jail guard, gets there first and stops Brenna in her tracks with his inherent purity. Another foe is eliminated.
Little assassin Aisa detains her father.
Just before Row’s children destroy New London, Father Tyler, the priest who escaped and kept Kelsea’s crown hidden from the Holy Father, returns the crown to her. She just walks away from him without thinking twice.
Everybody’s storylines are nicely wrapped up, and it feels quite convenient.
In the meantime, Kelsea realizes that Mhurn is her father when she meets her mother, whom she had previously believed to be deceased. Yes, Mhurn is the character she killed in book one because she felt so needless. Quite the bummer.
The Tearling’s history has now been fully covered by the flashbacks that have already occurred. Two of the book’s main foes, The Red Queen and Brenna, are now no more. Everyone around Kelsea is dying as she flees from Row and his vampire zombie offspring.
practically everyone, I mean. The namesake characters all pass away. It’s a mess, and because it happens so darn quickly, it’s emotionally flat and has no impact.
Kelsea dons the crown and returns to speak with William Tear. Row offers her two options: return to her castle and die a bloody and agonizing death surrounded by all the people she loves also dying, or become Katie, go back, risk all kinds of butterfly effect ripples, and kill Row before he can get this powerful.
Unsurprisingly, Kelsea goes with option 1.
The morning of the Tear assassination is briefly recalled. In front of Row, Jonathan and Katie are waiting for him to murder either or both of them. Then, when Katie has killed Jonathan, Lily—never mind, Kelsea, which resembles Lily—climbs out of Katie’s body and murders Row.
The morning after all this hullabaloo, Kelsea awakens to find herself in a little room she doesn’t recognize but instinctively knows as her bedroom. Her mother summons her up the stairs. What is going on?
In the mirror, she looks. She seemed uninteresting. She appears to be herself once more!
Nobody knows who she is. She is passed by Mace, now the police chief, without a glance. Pen, the Pen she adored so much, is now Andrew, married, and has a child. Brother Tyler, now in place of Father Tyler, is giving the stranger on the street some friendly counsel. And Carlin, Kelsea’s superior and the head librarian, is a poor, deceased surrogate mother.
The butterfly effect is at work!