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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.
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 boys – fiercely 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!
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!