The Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: January 5th 2016
ARC Provided by Edelweiss and Margaret K. McElderry Books
Christal’s Review – 4.5 Skulls – A-
The Impostor Queen was such a surprise in the best way possible. I was intrigued when I read the synopsis on Edelweiss, but I’ve never read a book by Sarah Fine so I wasn’t sure what to expect. What unfolded was a compelling story with a dynamic and inspiring main character and it was set in a fascinating, magical world. I was thoroughly pleased with my first Sarah Fine literary experience.
The Impostor Queen takes place in the town of Kupari and is the story of Elli, a teenaged girl being groomed as the town’s next queen, the Valtia. As the queen-in-waiting, or Saadela, Elli doesn’t have any magic of her own. The Valtias, always women, pass magic from themselves on to their Saadela’s as they die, usually very young and rather painfully. The magic leaves them just as their life does, but it enters the waiting Saadela and they are in turn crowned the next Valtia, as so the cycle goes. The magic is both fire and ice and letting it become unbalanced is what kills most Valtias.
When Elli’s Valtia dies, the magic does not enter her. The priests that serve the Valtia line blame her for rejecting the magic. They put her through three cruel trials to try to force the magic to manifest, but it never comes. Just before there is nothing left of Elli, her handmaiden Mim helps her escape the temple and Elli, with the assistance of an honorable young man and a mysterious healer, begins to make a life for herself with the banished among the mines. Without their Valtia, the town of Kupari begins to suffer. This is just the beginning of the story though. In the mines, Elli learns who she truly is and where her power lies. She learns the truth behind the Valtia prophecy and realizes what she must do to set everything right.
I won’t sugarcoat it; getting through the mythology and world building at the beginning of the book was a somewhat dense read. It was interesting and well-thought out, but it also wasn’t the most exciting aspect of the book. Thankfully, when Elli realizes she doesn’t have the magic, the pacing notches way up and the story really begins to shine. Sarah Fine’s writing is absolutely lovely and the world of The Impostor Queen was intricately developed.
Elli was a fantastic main character. She had a spine of steel but also wasn’t afraid of being humbled. Though she had spent her whole life being pampered and catered to in the temple, she jumped right into the hard work in the mines. Elli developed throughout the book and became a very capable leader by the end. She suffered for her development, both emotionally and physically thanks to the priests, and that development was believably paced.
Of course there is a love interest in The Impostor Queen, but thankfully no love triangle. Oskar was actually an amazing character in his own right and had much more purpose than just serving as Elli’s savior and romantic counterpart. Elli and Oskar had great rapport and the slow burn between them felt earned since they started the book as friends. If you’re worried about instalove, you won’t find it here.
I was sad when The Impostor Queen ended, but that is just because I was enjoying it so much; the actual ending was wonderfully done. While everything wasn’t answered, the main conflicts from this book were solved and new problems were created for the future books to explore. Goodreads does have this listed as the first in a new series, but it is still untitled as of yet. I highly recommend The Impostor Queen to lovers of fantasy and YA books. I definitely think this is one that will end up on my best of list for 2016!
Thank you to Margaret K. McElderry Books via Edelweiss for providing an ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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