Series: The Impostor Queen #1
Also in this series: The Cursed Queen
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on 1/5/16
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
My content rating: YA (Nothing more than kissing)
Sixteen-year-old Elli was a small child when the Elders of Kupari chose her to succeed the Valtia, the queen who wields infinitely powerful ice and fire magic. Since then, Elli has lived in the temple, surrounded by luxury and tutored by magical priests, as she prepares for the day when the Valtia perishes and the magic finds a new home in her. Elli is destined to be the most powerful Valtia to ever rule.
But when the queen dies defending the kingdom from invading warriors, the magic doesn’t enter Elli. It’s nowhere to be found.
Disgraced, Elli flees to the outlands, the home of banished criminals—some who would love to see the temple burn with all its priests inside. As she finds her footing in this new world, Elli uncovers devastating new information about the Kupari magic, those who wield it, and the prophecy that foretold her destiny. Torn between the love she has for her people and her growing loyalty to the banished, Elli struggles to understand the true role she was meant to play. But as war looms, she must align with the right side—before the kingdom and its magic are completely destroyed.
After reading a few reviews of this book, I just knew it was a ME book and that I needed to read it. I was right. This is my favorite type of fantasy – character-driven with a strong magical presence and a good dollop of action.
The book follows Elli, who’s spent her life preparing to be the Valtia. She knows that this will be a great sacrifice – after all, Valtias don’t typically live past thirty because the fire and ice magic within them eventually becomes too powerful to control – but she also knows that her kingdom needs her magic in order to thrive. She believes the sacrifice is worth it. But when the current Valtia dies and the magic refuses to inhabit Elli, her life takes a turn she never expected. She’s willing to do almost anything to bring her magic to the surface, but nothing works, and it soon becomes apparent that the priests aren’t going to wait around – their solution is the only one that Elli can’t stomach, so she runs to the Outlands, where she finds that the magic of her people is far more complex than she ever imagined.
What I enjoyed:
- The magic! I loved the fire and ice magic in this book and the different ways that it interacted. The balance of the two magics was essential and intricate – and the amount of one magic or the other that a person had could drastically affect their abilities. The Valtia was the only person who was able to wield both fire and ice in equal amounts – and with great power. While the magic in this book was sometimes complicated, it wasn’t hard to understand, and the nuances were explained throughout the book (no info dumps here). For me, this is the perfect fantasy set-up!
- Elli’s journey. Elli started out as a relatively weak character, despite the fact that she was to be a queen. It’s clear that the priests see Elli as a bit of a pawn, and her complete acceptance of the sacrifices needed to be Valtia can be hard to swallow at first. She is willing to go through horrible trials for the sake of her people – which is both admirable and a little scary. Then, when Elli discovers that she hasn’t inherited the magic of the Valtia, she is completely lost for a while – after all, her whole life has been spent preparing. As the book goes on, Elli truly comes into her own. I loved seeing her progression from sacrificial lamb to a force to be reckoned with!
- Revelations. Elli discovers so much about herself as the book progresses, and I was eagerly awaiting each and every reveal!!
- The romance. For the most part, I was a fan of the romance in this book (see my negative for the one aspect that threw me). I appreciated the fact that Elli’s sexuality was basically treated as a non-issue (she has feelings for both her handmaiden, Mim, and the man who saves her in the Outlands, Oskar) – and I thought it was fantastic how Fine showed Elli’s feelings for both of them and compared and contrasted her relationships with them. When it came to the main romance in the book, I felt a connection between Oskar and Elli right away, but I loved that the romance was slow-burning. They forged a bond over magic and a deep need for each other – and I loved every minute of it!
- Kept bracing myself for a (non-existent) love triangle. From the beginning of the book, it was made clear that Elli was in love with her handmaiden, Mim. So, when Elli goes off to the Outlands and meets Oskar, I was sure that, at some point, Mim would enter the picture and throw a wrench into the newly blossoming relationship with him. My fears were unfounded, but it meant that I spent a good portion of the book trying to brace myself for the destruction of a romance I was starting to love – and trying not to get TOO attached to Oskar. But there was no love triangle – Yes, Elli had feelings for two people (one who happened to be a girl and one who happened to be a guy – that is not at all stressed in the book, it just is), but there is no back and forth between the two. So, this negative is barely a negative because it didn’t actually happen – but my worries about it happening made it hard for me to invest as fully in the romance. Does that make sense?
(In the end, I couldn’t even bring myself to take off a half star for this because, the more I thought about it, the more deeply I felt that Elli’s relationship with Mim added to the book more than detracted from it. So, five stars it is!)
Apparently, this book is part of a duology, which makes me even more excited – no possibility of middle book syndrome! This is YA fantasy at its best! I give this book 5/5 stars.
***Disclosure: I received this book from Edelweiss and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
About the Author
I’m the author of several books for teens, including Of Metal and Wishes(McElderry/Simon & Schuster) and its sequel, Of Dreams and Rust, the Guards of the Shadowlands YA urban fantasy series (Skyscape/Amazon Children’s Publishing), and The Impostor Queen (McElderry, January 2016).
I’m also the co-author (with Walter Jury) of two YA sci-fi thrillers published by Putnam/Penguin: Scanand its sequel Burn. My first adult urban fantasy romance series, Servants of Fate, includes Marked, Claimed, and Fated, all published by 47North in 2015, and my second adult UF series — The Reliquary, kicks off in summer 2016. When I’m not writing, I’m psychologizing. Sometimes I do both at the same time. The results are unpredictable.