Review: The Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine

Review: The Impostor Queen by Sarah FineThe Impostor Queen
by Sarah Fine
Release Date: January 5th 2016
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, YA
Format: ARC
Pages: 336
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Source: ARC received for review purposes

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.

ARC received for review purposes in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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At this point, I sincerely doubt there’s going to be a Sarah Fine book I don’t love. With every release, she continues to impress the heck out of me with her creativity and ability to create new and fresh characters. The Impostor Queen, like all of Sarah Fine’s works, was utterly striking as a fantasy novel and even though it’s only the second 2016 novel that I have read, I know that it will be topping my best of 2016 lists.

Elli was an unconventional heroine for a fantasy story, a fact that I delighted over. She was unlike the typical physically strong, badass and brave heroine who knew all the secrets of her world. No, Elli was honestly, in the beginning, completely clueless and naive as to what the Elders of Kupari around her were doing with their nefarious goals. She was what you would call a follower, not really questioning their lies and bullshit because of her devotion to them and her queen, the Valtia. That, however, in no way means she was a docile heroine. Undoubtedly, her sheltered life made it hard for her to truly show her inner strength until quite a bit later in The Impostor Queen, after she finds out that she didn’t have the magical abilities that she was prophesied to have.

Finding out that she didn’t have that much power and that the Elders were going to kill her for it came as a complete shock to her and her core – after all, she had spent her whole life training for it. I thought Sarah Fine captured Elli’s dilemma so well. I felt for her and experienced her struggles together with her. Throughout The Impostor Queen, Elli underwent a whole lot of growth, and while she still didn’t become a physical heroine (which I loved BTW), by the end, she had a quiet strength to her, having finally learned about who she was and where she stood in her world. Another thing that made Elli stand out among other YA fantasy heroines? Her bisexuality. Sarah Fine always tackles diversity meticulously and Elli’s bisexuality was handled no differently. I loved that it was never the focus of the story and that she just was someone who loved not based on gender, but on the other person’s personality. Her love interest in The Impostor Queen was a boy, but her feelings for her old handmaiden were alluded to. That’s not to say that the romance was a love triangle however. Hers and Oskar’s romance was one of the best parts of the book for me – it was slow, swoony and full of delicious tension.

As always, the secondary characters in The Impostor Queen were also excellent. Oskar, especially, was so crush-worthy. This author’s ability to craft these love interests that sweep you off your feet and hold a place in your heart repeatedly will never cease to amaze. What I love more than anything is how these are all good boysfiercely loyal, kindhearted, selfless and compassionate. Oskar was a character that completely took my breath away. The boy was charming, funny, gruffy and with a dash of intensity. I feel like I could go on and on about him, but the main thing you should take away is that I LOVED him! I also adored Oskar’s family and the relationship they grew with Elli. Not to mention, Sig, an impulsive, fire user who I mostly wanted to throttle throughout the book, but who I also loved. The whole crew of The Impostor Queen was fantastic, even the twisted villains!

As for the story itself, it was as riveting as the characters were. It took a short while to get deep into the plot, but once it did, it was so hard to put down. The Impostor Queen wasn’t a fast-paced, action-packed kind of story. Instead, it was a book that slowly culminated into a terrific ending, with magic, betrayals and twists along the way. It’s the sort of book that truly hooks you in and immerses you in its world and characters. The world building? Phenomenal! I struggle with YA fantasy books sometimes because of the complexities they present. Some authors know how to explore those details without confusing me and Sarah Fine is one of those authors for me. I loved how the world building came slowly and by the end, I had such a clear and vivid image of the setting.

The Impostor Queen is a must-read if you enjoy fantasy stories with unique story-lines, great world building, beautiful writing and characters that are memorable. Sarah Fine is a queen when it comes to YA and with The Impostor Queen, she showed just how versatile she is as an author. If you have yet to read a book by her, do yourself a favor, and pick up one of her books because she deserves so much more love. In the meantime, I’ll be dwindling my thumbs, waiting for the sequel.

Check out the book collage I made inspired by The Impostor Queen!

The Impostor Queen


Have you read a book by Sarah Fine? What about a book with an unconventional YA fantasy heroine? Let me know in the comments below!


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  • I’ve been seeing this book around a lot lately! Now I’m starting to think it’s a crime that it’s not on my TBR yet. I will change that now.

    Bieke @ Istyria book blog recently posted: Bieke’s Top 15 Books of 2015
    • Nick

      YES. YES, it is!

  • I know you and Rashika absolutely LOVE Sarah Fine’s books, and it sounds like they’re really well crafted, diverse and amazing! I love the fact that there’s a bi heroine in a fantasy world! I am putting this on my list, thanks for the great review Nick!

    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence recently posted: Aila’s Top 10 Books of 2015
    • Nick

      Definitely check this out, Jeann and her other books! She’s a phenomenal author and very underrated.

  • Bisexual heroine for the win Nick! And I love that it’s not made a big deal of – I think when authors (or tv shows/movies) put extra focus on a LGBTQ person, all “LOOK AT HOW PROGESSIVE I AM”, it’s just as bad as leaving them out altogether because it draws attention to the fact that something is “different”. I love that Elli just loves who she loves, end of story. Can’t wait to read this:)

    • Nick

      Yes, I agree 100%, Jenny. It’s almost like they are made to look different. You will love this! 🙂

  • I am so very relieved to read your review, Nick! I trust in Sarah, but I always feel that unfounded fear of disappointment, I just can’t help it. Still, your very positive opinions and the points you made have me excited to be starting this in a day or two. I just can’t wait!

    • I’m the same way with authors I love, Maja. There’s always that fear. I hope you will love it just as much as I did, Maja! 🙂

  • I loved this one as well. Such a great story, wonderful world buildling and fantastic characters. I agree, I don’t think Sarah can disappoint me. I have loved everything she has written.

    • Nick

      She’s just one of those authors who never fails to work for me. I love her books so much!

  • I know I’m suppose to be on a blogging break but I couldn’t resist stopping by and reading this review and YAY! I’m so excited you loved this every bit as much as I did, Sarah really is a genius.

    Merry Christmas!!

    • Nick

      Aww thanks, Ali! Genius all the way!
      Thank you and Merry Christmas to you as well. 🙂

  • So I haven’t been blogging until recently and had no idea you two joined forces! That is so awesome and I’m loving the new look & blog name. VERY AWESOME. Anyway, Nick, loved your review! I haven’t read a Sarah Fine book before but I do own two of her novels so I shall pick them up sometime soon because she seems like a brilliant author – yay for a bisexual MC! xD

    Melanie (YA Midnight Reads) recently posted: In Which We Celebrate YA Midnight Reads’ Third Birthday
    • Nick

      It happened in October! Thank you, Mel! 🙂
      Oh you should check out something by her, Mel! She writes such great stories with great romances and characters. 🙂

  • I think this is my chance to finally grab a book by Sarah Fine – the heroine sounds like one that I would love, especially since she’s a bit unconventional and grows in character (which I love in a YA book.) I’m so glad you love this newest series, Nick!! 🙂

    • Nick

      YES, Kim! I agree with this plan. You would love Elli! 🙂
      Thank you!

  • Nice! I’ll be reading this in the net week or so and can’t wait.

    Christy LoveOfBooks recently posted: My Holiday Romance Reads of 2015
    • Nick

      I hope you love it too!

  • So so glad you enjoyed this one, Nick. Though that’s hardly a surprise, isn’t it? I’m in the midst of this one but I just haven’t devoted too much time reading it. I so can’t wait for my Christmas break!

    • Nick

      Haha! True! 🙂
      Hope you’ll enjoy it just as much as I did, Joy!

  • Gah, Nick, I have NOT read a Sarah FIne book yet! THE SHAME. I own several of them too- AND I pre-ordered this one earlier in the day after reading your review hahah. Of course, I also preordered Of Metal and Wishes and still haven’t read that… but maybe I can be held accountable for this one 😉 I also just canceled the pre-order from this morning and ordered through your link. I need to remind myself to do that more often! Fabulous review, I cannot wait for this- I love an unconventional heroine! Bring it on 😀

    • Nick

      YES SHAME ON YOU, SHANNON. JK! But you should definitely pick something up by her and this is a great place to start.
      We don’t have Amazon Affiliates, but thank you! I appreciate the thought. 🙂
      I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this one!

  • Another Sarah Fine win for you!! That’s awesome how much you love her. I love finding authors that never disappoint! 🙂 And, Nick, your graphics are gorgeous!! <3

    Lisa @ Lost in Literature recently posted: Uppercase YA Book Subscription Box Review!
    • Nick

      Aww, thanks, Lisa!
      And same! There are only a few authors like that for me. 😀

  • I adored this book too! I agree that Elli’s sexuality was handled really casually – not at all what the story was about but there as just something about her. I do have to confess that it distracted me slightly, though – not her sexuality, but the fact that the possibility of a love triangle was there. I kept waiting for something to happen with the handmaiden that would throw a wrench in Oskar and Elli’s relationship – and dreading it, just because I felt so strongly about Oskar at that point (and then feeling guilty about dreading it because I felt somehow guilty for rooting for the straight relationship – okay, this is obviously just a personal issue!!). 🙂

    • Nick

      That was one of my concerns too actually, but not throughout the book, but for the second book! But I wouldn’t worry because I’ve read all of Sarah’s books and she’s not really an author who does love triangles.
      I’m glad you enjoyed it though, Nicole! 🙂

      • Good to know. I was a bit worried about the second book, too, but hoping that the triangle is well and truly buried (literally) – you never know, though!

  • This was actually my first Sarah Fine book, and I agree that she does a wonderful job with diversity! I agree with you about her bisexuality. It was never the focus which I was really happy for. I kept waiting for Elli to have this whole internal dialogue about her sexuality, and it was refreshing when it didn’t happen!

    • Nick

      You should check out her other series as well, Amber Elise. Her books always tackle diversity! And me too! I thought it was great in its subtlety.

  • I read this awhile ago now but I wasn’t as wow’d by it. It’s hard to remember exactly what I didn’t love, maybe it was the slow pace in the start, among other things. But I did still enjoy it. I loved how the diversity aspects were handled as well. And the world was done well. I’ll have to reread my review before I post it and refresh my memory. 🙂

    • Nick

      I can definitely see why the slow pace was an issue. I’m glad you enjoyed it overall!

  • A bisexual and out of the mold female character, combined with great characterisation and solid world building? YESSS I need this one in my life, as a fantasy fan and a proponent for diversity I think this one is right up my alley. Incredible and such an honest, enthusiastic review, Nick!

    Aentee recently posted: 6 Months Blogoversary & Giveaway
    • Oh I hope you’ll love this one when you get to it, Aentee! It’s a really wonderful book and this author is the author of my heart! 🙂
      Thank you!

  • Wheeee, I loved this book! The only thing that didn’t quite sit well with me at first was the ending – but only because I hadn’t known that this was part of a duology. Oskar! <3 I love his family as well. I also looooove how Elli and Oskar's relationship progressed in the cave. So. BEAUTIFUL! Ahhh. <3

    Lovely review, Nick!

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

    Alyssa Susanna (The Eater of Books!) recently posted: Review: These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas
    • I can see how that could have been a shock. She had told me it was a duo when I pestered her about the book. Yes, Oskar was amazing! I can’t wait for more of him.
      Thanks, Alyssa! 🙂

  • Ahh what an awesome review Nick! I honestly can’t wait to read this book, because all I have heard are WONDERFUL things about it. Elli sounds like an amazing heroine (gotta love those unconvential types) and I can’t wait to fall in love with Oskar like everyone else who’s read the book did lol. I really need to pick up Sarah Fine’s previous series!

  • I read Of Metal and Wishes and really enjoyed it. And I had an e-ARC of this but because it wasn’t on Kindle …. it expired. *cries* But since it comes out next week, I will just get it then.
    Jen @ YA Romantics

  • I’ve seen a lot of mixed reviews for this book. I’ve read Marked and Claimed from Fine, but none of her YA books before. If you say it’s a must, then it is a must 🙂

  • Eep. I love your review Nick, and while I have only one adult series by Fine, I have the Santalum series on audio, and plan to add this as well.