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The Impostor Queen
     

The Impostor Queen

4.1 8
by Sarah Fine
 

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The elders chose Elli to be queen, but they chose wrong in this beautifully crafted novel that “fans of Rae Carson’s books and Victoria Areyard’s Red Queen will find much to love in” (VOYA).

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

Overview

The elders chose Elli to be queen, but they chose wrong in this beautifully crafted novel that “fans of Rae Carson’s books and Victoria Areyard’s Red Queen will find much to love in” (VOYA).

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 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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
12/14/2015
The Kupari are the only people in their world who practice magic. Some can use the forces of fire or ice, and their most powerful magician and queen, the Valtia, wields both. The Valtia's heir doesn't gain magic until the queen dies. Elli, known to be the princess because of a magical birthmark, awaits her inheritance after the Valtia dies raising a storm against the country's enemies, but she turns out to have no magic in her at all. Fine (Of Metal and Wishes) follows a disgraced Elli into the backlands as she attempts to find a way to be of use to her country. Elli's quest is absorbing, the story well-paced, and the world and its magic intriguing, but Fine doesn't always delineate the characters, images, and action sequences well enough to evoke strong emotion. The plot leans strongly on stock fantasy ideas, such as the ancient prophesy that turns out to govern a great deal of the characters' lives, contributing to an entertaining but not always gripping story. Ages 12–up. Agent: Kathleen Ortiz, New Leaf Literary & Media. (Jan.)
VOYA, February 2016 (Vol. 38, No. 6) - Liz Gotauco
Elli’s life has been planned for her since she was plucked from her family at age four as the destined future Valtia of the kingdom of Kupari. As such, she is set to inherit the queen’s powers of ice and fire magic in order to protect and provide for her people. But when the current Valtia dies, the magic does not pass down to Elli as it has done for the Valtia’s successor in so many years past. When Elli is informed that the city’s Elders plan to execute her for being revealed as a powerless impostor, she flees the city and must make her way among the banished criminals of Kupari. It is there she begins to learn that all she was raised for may be false and that the magic she was expected to wield may have more mysteries to be unraveled than she ever could have imagined. Fans of Rae Carson’s books and Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen will find much to love in Fine’s engrossing novel. Fine takes her time to create an intriguing set of characters and the rules of the magic that motivates them, but when the action picks up, it is rich and exciting. While Elli is a lovely heroine on her own, fascinating supporting characters surround her, especially in the den of criminals where she finds her true family. The romance is both sensual and sweet, and the mounting conflict between the rulers of Kupari and its outcasts is tense and at times gruesome. Cliffhangers abound in the last chapter and readers will eagerly anticipate the sequel. Reviewer: Liz Gotauco; Ages 12 to 18.
School Library Journal
11/01/2015
Gr 9 Up—Ever since she was a young child, Elli has been groomed to be the next Valtia, or queen of the Kupari people. The Valtia uses powerful ice and fire magic to protect and help the Kupari prosper. When the reigning Valtia dies unexpectedly, Elli must take her place. Inexplicably, however, the Valtia's magic does not take to Elli. The Kupari Elders are unsympathetic, and Elli barely escapes with her life to the outlands beyond the kingdom. The outlands are full of banished criminals, but an outlander named Oskar saves Elli when she is gravely injured. Elli realizes that she may not be able to trust everyone around her. Although Elli doesn't have magic, she does have a different sort of power that puts her in terrible danger. In the opening chapters, readers are introduced to a fantastical new realm; they will be immersed immediately in the intricate, highly ritualistic society of the Kupari and must quickly learn some new vocabulary mostly by context. These first few chapters may be a touch overwhelming for novice fantasy readers. The story that emerges, however, is worth the effort. Readers will find conspiracy, magic, war, romance, prophecy, corruption, and the truth that there are multiple sides to every story. Stay tuned for a sequel. VERDICT Recommend to readers who enjoy magical fantasy with a little romance mixed in—especially to fans of Victoria Aveyard's Red Queen (HarperCollins, 2015).—Sara White, Seminole County Public Library, Casselberry, FL
Kirkus Reviews
2015-09-16
She's spent years preparing to become an all-powerful queen and to wield her land's magic, but that's not her destiny at all. Sixteen-year-old Elli is the Saadella, training to inherit Kupari's crown and its strongest fire and ice magic from the Valtia—the queen—as soon as the Valtia dies. Temple elders always choose a Saadella with coppery hair, ice-blue eyes, and a blood-flame mark on her (presumably white) skin. But when this Valtia dies, things go horribly wrong: Elli's body receives no magic, not even during torturous trials. Handmaiden Mim—with whom Elli's in love—hears the elders' plan to slit Elli's throat and sneaks Elli away, but Mim gets caught, leaving Elli alone and helpless in the countryside. Injured by a bear trap and nearly dead, she's rescued by her next love, who turns out to wield ice magic himself. Her new life outside the rigid temple leads to revelations about her country, some gruesome and shocking, some hopeful. Fine's portrayals of fire and ice magic are scorching and chilling. Despite her new knowledge about fire, ice, blood, copper, and power, Elli knows that "we're fated by stars, our lives mapped and foretold"—this is a tale of prophecy, not agency. She sets determinedly down her real destined path, poised for revolution in the next installment. Full of passion, fire, and ice. (Fantasy. 12-16)
Booklist
“Readers who love unique world building and magic will embrace this story easily, but the qualities of bravery, love, and devotion will extend its appeal even further.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781481441902
Publisher:
Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication date:
01/05/2016
Pages:
432
Sales rank:
271,866
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.50(d)
Lexile:
800L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

The Impostor Queen


  • The heart lies before me, still, colorful, and more mysterious than I want it to be. I lean over the diagram etched onto the scroll, trying to memorize it all at once. The main vessel that carries the blood to the rest of the body is marked in red ink, and I slide my fingertip across the label. Valtimo. I like the word. It’s vital and meaty. “Elder Kauko, are the vessels in a loop, somehow? How does the blood know when it is time to return to the heart?”

    Elder Kauko, seated next to me at this sturdy table laden with scrolls depicting livers, brains, all the bones of the hand and fingers, and so many other fascinating things, adjusts his robe over his round belly. “You are so clever, Elli. Yes, it is like a loop. The blood never leaves the vessels, merely travels through the tunnels until it passes through the heart again.”

    I frown. “Why, though? Why is it so important, if all it does is flow through our veins? What does it do?”

    He smiles. When I was little, his lips used to fascinate me; they stick out like two grubs pasted to his pale face. “The blood is life itself. It carries warmth to the limbs and strength to the muscles.”

    My fingers trace the path of the blood into the lungs. “And what about magic? Does the blood carry magic throughout the body too?”

    The elder lets out a breath as if I’ve elbowed him, then starts to chuckle. “Magic is more complicated than that.”

    I blow a strand of my hair off my forehead, frustration warming my skin. “I know it’s not simple, but if the blood is life . . .” I glance at the elder, who waits patiently for my thought to form. “When magic leaves a Valtia, she dies. So it seems as if magic is life too. And if that’s true, then—”

    He puts up his hands, as if in surrender. “My dear Saadella, magic infuses the wielder. It is everywhere within her.”

    I tap the diagram. “Including the blood?”

    “Yes, yes. Including the blood. But—”

    “Can you distill the magic from the blood, then? Will it separate like oil from water if it sits out overnight? Have you ever—”

    The elder starts to laugh, his belly wobbling. “Darling child, do you ever stop? Some things simply are, and it is best to be at peace with that.”

    “And magic is one of them,” I say slowly. How many times have I heard that from my tutors? “But where does it come from, Elder? I know the Valtia’s magic passes to the Saadella, but what about the other wielders?”

    Elder Kauko nudges my hand, which has now curled around the edge of the scroll, and in my eagerness, crumpled the paper. “We never know how it chooses a wielder.” He taps the tip of my nose with his index finger. “We only know it chooses wisely.”

    I smooth my fingers over the wrinkled paper. “But when I had my geography lesson with priest Eljas the other day, he told me the Kupari are the only people in the world with magic. So why did it choose us?”

    “Why did it choose us?” He gestures toward the corridor that leads to the grand domed chamber of our temple. “Because we serve it and keep it well, and . . .” He bows his head and lets out a huff of quiet laughter. “It just did, my Saadella. But I, for one, am not surprised. There is no better people than the Kupari, none stronger or purer of heart.”

    Like I so often do in my lessons, I feel as if I am banging against a closed door, begging entrance. “But if that’s true, and we should all be at peace that the magic chose us, then why do all the priests spend their days studying it? What are they trying to figure out?” I point to the deep shelves of scrolls in Kauko’s personal library. He is the physician, but he is also an elder, one of the more powerful magic wielders in this temple. “I know these texts aren’t only about anatomy. When will you teach me about the actual magic?”

    He sweeps his hand over the open scroll. “We teach you things every day, child!”

    I bite my lip. “I thought when I turned sixteen, my lessons might include more than teachings on the natural world. I hoped I could spend more time with the Valtia and learn how she rules.”

    Kauko begins to roll up the scroll, and that mysterious heart disappears into a spiral of brown paper. “The Valtia must keep her focus on her magic, and using it to serve the people. I know you mean well, but she cannot be distracted from that.” His thick lips quirk up in a sheepish smile. “And I know a horde of old priests are not equal to her company, but please believe we are dedicated to preparing you for the throne.”

    I look away from him, feeling ashamed of my selfishness. “I do,” I murmur. But I can’t help the way my heart yearns for my Valtia—nor my desire to learn from her.

    Elder Kauko gathers the scrolls into a pile. “You will have all the knowledge you need when the time comes, Elli,” he says, his voice gentle.

    “You don’t know when the time will come,” I say as urgency coils in my gut.

    His smile becomes wistful as he gives my arm a tender pat. “The other elders and I will guide you in the magic once it is inside you.” His dark eyes twinkle with a teasing mischief. “Besides, you cannot possibly know what you most want to ask until you have experienced the magic for yourself, hmm? Then you can bombard us with your questions!” He takes me by the elbow. “Come. I think it is time for your afternoon rest.”

    The only person in this temple who doesn’t treat me like a child is Mim. I almost say it, but my words clog in my throat as he turns me to face him.

    “We all know how devoted you are to your duty.” His expression is full of pride, and it makes me stand a little straighter. “We prize that in you. My dearest hope is that you come to understand how devoted we are to you.”

    My throat is tight, but not with questions now. With emotion. “I know, Elder Kauko. I am so fortunate to have you. All of you.”

    An echoing shout for Elder Kauko from down the corridor has us both turning toward the door again. “Coming!” he calls.

    I follow him into the stone hallway that connects this rear wing to the grand chamber of the Temple on the Rock. The shouting is coming from there. Elder Kauko runs his hand over the dusky shadow on his bald head, his fingers steady and smooth. It’s a habit of his. “Elder Aleksi, is that you?”

    Elder Aleksi rushes into the hallway, carrying the limp body of a boy who is bleeding from his head, his hands, his knees. My red skirt swishes around my ankles as I stop dead and stare. Aleksi, his heavy chin jiggling, gives the boy a concerned look. “He was hit by a horse cart,” Aleksi says as Kauko reaches him. Then he sees me hovering a few steps behind. “He was so eager to reach the temple that he wasn’t watching where he was going.”

    He mutters something else that I don’t hear as he lays the boy, who can’t be more than ten and is skinny as a pole, on the tiles. “I fear we’re losing him.”

    “No, he’ll be fine. I’ll do it right here,” says Kauko, leaning over the boy, his hands hovering over the child’s crimson-streaked sandy hair. He looks over his shoulder and gives me a faint smile. “Our Saadella can watch.”

    My heart speeds as I take a step closer. Aleksi’s brows are low with warning, an expression I see every time I ask to watch the apprentices practice their wielding skills in the catacombs. “My Saadella, this is an ugly business, and—”

    “But it will be something I can do when I have the magic inside me, correct?” I ask, edging along the marble floor. Only a few wielders can heal. To do it, they must have both ice and fire magic—a great deal, as I understand it—and the two opposing forces must be balanced. The Valtia’s magic is the most powerful, and it is also perfectly balanced, so this means—

    “Of course, Saadella, should you ever wish to,” says Kauko briskly. “And it is sometimes an excellent gesture of goodwill toward the citizens, to do healings on ceremony days.”

    “Then show me!” I say eagerly, and then gasp. As Kauko’s palms hover a few inches from the boy’s scalp, I can actually see the skin knitting together over a ragged wound. I open my mouth to ask how exactly Kauko manages it, but Aleksi puts his hand up.

    “My Saadella,” he says quietly. “Healing takes complete concentration.”

    Elder Kauko leans back after a few minutes, smiling and rubbing his hands together. I want to grasp them in my own—would they be burning to the touch? Icy cold? Both at once? “There. He is out of danger.” He meets Aleksi’s eyes. “Take him down to the catacombs and get him settled, and I will attend to the rest of his wounds after I have escorted the Saadella back to her chambers.”

    “The catacombs?” I ask, peering at the boy more closely now. “Does that mean he’s a wielder?”

    Aleksi nods. “His name is Niklas. He was apprenticed to a cobbler, who was kind enough to let us know he’d seen Niklas leave scorch marks on a piece of leather he was working. I thought it might be a false lead, but this boy clearly has fire. I knew it as soon as I was in the same room with him.”

    Kauko shakes his head. “I’ve always admired your ability to sense such things.”

    Aleksi grins at the compliment. “I don’t know how much magic is inside him yet, or whether he has any ice magic too, but we’ll test him once he’s well.”

    I smile down at the boy, whose fingernails are black with grime, whose cheeks are hollow with deprivation. “Then he already knows how fortunate he is to have been found—it’s a shame that excitement got him hurt.” On impulse, I kneel next to him as his eyelids flutter. My fingers brush over his sharp cheekbone. “We’ll take good care of you, Niklas,” I murmur. “You have a wonderful life ahead of you.”

    The boys eyes pop open, and they are dark blue, like the waters of the Motherlake in spring. He blinks up at me, then his eyes trace the white marble walls around him and go round as saucers. Just as his mouth drops open, Aleksi gathers the child in his arms, his plump fingers curling over lanky limbs and holding tight. “I’ll take him now,” Aleksi says as the boy starts to squirm and whimper, probably still dazed from his injury.

    He stands up and strides down the corridor toward the entrance to the catacombs, the maze of tunnels and chambers beneath our temple where all the acolytes and apprentices train and live. Kauko turns to me. “Well, that’s enough excitement for the afternoon, eh?”

    I look down at his hands, which are firm and strong-looking, unlike Aleksi’s. “But I would love to hear more about how—”

    Kauko chuckles. “Perhaps another time, my Saadella. Our lesson is over for today, and I am sure Mim would be disappointed if you did not partake of the lemon scones she has acquired for your tea.”

    My cheeks warm. Mim knows all my favorite things, and the sight of her smile as she gives them to me is loveliness itself. “Well then. I would never want to disappoint my handmaiden!”

    Kauko grins and walks with me into the circular grand chamber, toward the eastern wing of the temple—the Saadella’s wing. My wing. As we reach it, heavy boot steps sound on the marble and the Valtia’s sedan chair is carried into the grand chamber from the white plaza outside. My heart squeezes with longing—I am only allowed to see my Valtia two days a year, at the planting ceremony and the harvest ceremony. She rarely leaves the temple, though, so I am frozen where I stand, gaping rudely. I narrow my eyes, trying to catch a glimpse of her face behind the gauzy material that covers the windows of the small wooden chamber where she sits. All I can see is the coppery glint of her hair, plaited and twisted and pinned into an exquisite coil atop her head.

    Elder Leevi, lanky and stooped, walks next to the Valtia’s chair. “I was simply saying another trip beyond the city walls does not seem like a good—”

    “You saw that homestead, Elder,” the Valtia replies. “I cannot in good conscience sit within this temple while our farmers live in fear. The raids are worse than ever, and the people might lose confidence if I did.”

    “You are wise, my Valtia, but there is danger in the outlands. We could bring . . .” His voice fades from my hearing as the Valtia and her procession disappear down her corridor toward her chambers.

    “What kind of danger is there in the outlands, that it could put the Valtia at risk?” I ask Kauko as he tugs on my sleeve, leading me to my own rooms. “I know the outlands are full of thieves and bandits, but the Valtia can defend herself against any threat, can’t she?”

    “Of course, my Saadella,” says Kauko, quickening his pace. He is probably eager to get back to the boy, the newest magic wielder in our temple, but once again, my questions burn inside me. I place my hand on his arm.

    “Is it the Soturi? Is it so bad that they have become stronger than us?” The raiders from the north have struck hard this year—or so Mim tells me. She sneaks information to me from the city whenever she can, even though the elders have admonished her for it twice already.

    “The Soturi are no threat to the Valtia,” Kauko says slowly, as if he is thinking about every word. “But the strain and stress of the travel is wearying for any queen, and especially one who is a vessel for such powerful magic. Elder Leevi’s chief concern is our Valtia’s health.” He looks back at the doorway to my room, where Mim probably waits for me, laying out a blanket for my legs near my favorite chair by the fire. “A Valtia is all at once a magnificently strong and exquisitely fragile thing. For her to do her duty, she must be careful of what she demands of her body and mind. She must save her energy for when and where it is needed most.”

    And trips to the outlands must be exhausting, riding for hours over the hilly, rough terrain, having to constantly be on guard for bandits or, stars forbid, the vicious and brutal northern warriors who stab at our shores, seeking plunder.

    “She wants to help the farmers, though,” I say, my brow furrowing. How terrible she must feel, having to choose between her people and her health. Then I smile as an idea hits me. “Are we compensating the farmers for their losses?” I ask. “We have plenty of copper—I’ve seen the acolytes wheel it in. Surely we have enough, and it is more valuable than the bronze coins in the town. If she is concerned about the confidence of the people, maybe we could—”

    Kauko makes a quiet sound of disapproval that silences me. “My dear, when you are on the throne, we will discuss all of this, but forgive me when I say that right now you are talking of things you do not understand.”

    I flush with the reprimand, and Kauko’s frown softens. “I realize that all your ideas and questions sprout from the best intentions,” he says. “And I will speak with the Valtia about ways she can reduce the raids and bolster the confidence of the people while maintaining her health. I will also tell her you are concerned for her.” He winks. “And in a few days, you can tell her yourself!”

    I nearly bounce on my heels as I think of the upcoming harvest ceremony. I haven’t spoken to my Valtia in months. “I certainly will. I want her to be with us for years to come.” Everyone knows that Valtias fade young, but Kauko makes it sound like it is possible to live longer if care is taken. And I want my Valtia to take care—not just because I love her, though I do, with every shred of my soul—because I fear I will never meet the standard she has set as our queen. “I—I feel as if I won’t be ready for a very long time,” I add quietly. “If I ever disappointed our people . . .” Even the thought puts a lump in my throat.

    Kauko gives me the most kindly smile. “I am going to tell you something very important,” he says. “I was going to wait, but it seems like you need to hear it now.”

    I stare at him, his smooth face and silly-looking lips, his merry eyes. “What is it?”

    “All Valtias are powerful, but not all equally so. Some burn bright and fade quickly, while others are more steady, strong but muted. We never know what kind of Valtia we will have until the magic enters a Saadella. Except with you.”

    I have the strange urge to claw at my stockings to peek at the red flame mark that paints my left calf with its numb scarlet tendrils, the one that appeared at the moment of the last Valtia’s death—when I was only four years old. “What do you mean?”

    “There is a prophecy,” he says, glancing up and down the hall. “One made hundreds of years ago.”

    “Yes?” I whisper.

    His bald scalp is beaded with sparkles of sweat in the light of the torches that line the walls. “When we found you in that shabby little cottage by the city wall, too skinny for your own good, we made sure to check the town register for the day and season of your birth, and the exact position of the stars in the sky on that very day. It matches what was foretold precisely.” He grasps both my arms, giving me a little shake, as if to force this knowledge into me, to make sure I believe. “When the magic leaves our current queen and enters you, Elli, you will become the most powerful Valtia who has ever existed.”

  • Meet the Author

    Sarah Fine is the author of Of Metal and Wishes, Of Dreams and Rust, The Impostor Queen, The Cursed Queen, and The Guards of the Shadowlands series. She was born on the West Coast, raised in the Midwest, and is now firmly entrenched on the East Coast. When she’s not writing, she’s working as a child psychologist. Visit her at SarahFineBooks.com.

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    The Impostor Queen 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
    BailsChris More than 1 year ago
    I found the premise of the novel to be really cool. I liked the way the world was built around the idea that magic is controlled by ice and fire. It is reminiscent of the poem by Robert Frost, where the world will end in either ice or fire. I’ve always really enjoyed that poem, so to see ice and fire play such a big role was pretty awesome for me. I also thought it was interesting that there are women who are born with markers that make them queen — the Valtia — or princess — Saadella. I think it’s interesting when it isn’t tied to blood, but rather to the idea that they are almost reincarnations of the first Valtia. I think it can make it something far more complicated than if it were simply a tradition continued through blood, because who is to say they found the right girl? The right girl wasn’t Elli, but they didn’t know that. She is an interesting character because of her growth from a spoiled princess to a developed young woman who has experienced life outside of being a princess. She has had to do the hard work and finally understood what the lives of her people were like, and not all of them were easy. She has to make hard choices and face the consequences of her decisions. The book began out slow paced in the beginning and I think that’s where the author will lose most of the readers who pick up the book for a quick read. However, the book became a very intriguing and interesting tale and I really enjoyed it. Sometimes, you have to get through the slow beginnings to get to the really good endings, I suppose. I liked the delicate balance of the main relationship, and it definitely made it more interesting than if it had simply been them getting together right away. I like that it took time and even then, there are still questions about whether or not the relationship will work out.
    Laura_at_125Pages More than 1 year ago
    Original review @ 125Pages How have I not heard of Sarah Fine before! I feel so cheated that this is the first book of hers I have read. The Impostor Queen was glorious. A magical world where copper runs through the land and imbues the residents with fire and ice magic, a girl whom everyone thinks is destined to be queen and invading hordes all combine for a spectacular read. The world building was very well done; I could picture the buildings and the people. The pacing was spot on and the characters were mostly incredible. The main character Elli was so different, in such a good way. She began as an extraordinarily weak person who learned and grew on her own terms into a powerhouse. It was also nice to see her fluid sexuality. Attracted to both her ladies maid and a young man whose family takes her in, I liked how it wasn’t a big deal, it just was. Most characters in YA fit a specific mold and I love that Elli was her own mold. The majority of the other characters were just as well fleshed out, save one or two who were a little weak. Even the weak characters did not distract from the great journey. I’m excited to read the sequel (there has to be one as there is so much left to discover) and am very glad I discovered The Impostor Queen. Favorite lines – “And nowadays, your laugh makes me feel like I’m falling. When you look at me, I’m suddenly warm. The sight of you makes my heart speed. Do you really think the only magic in this world comes from fire and ice?” Biggest cliché – “We will protect you and keep you safe at all times. Except when we can gain something by turning against you, then you’re on your own.” I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
    book_junkee More than 1 year ago
    This was absolutely stunning. The world building, the magic, the characters. All of it. I loved Elli. I love her loyalty and her quiet fierceness. She has so much responsibility resting on her shoulders, it was interesting to see her growth and how things shifted. There are a lot of great characters: some good and some deliciously horrid. I couldn't even begin to explain why I loved them. I wasn't lost in any part of the explanation. There aren't eleventy billion names that look the same or multiple POVs {although I would love to be in Oskar's head for just one chapter}. For me, it was a perfect high fantasy. I was absolutely captivated by the very first page and I loved every single word. The ending is sort of cliffhangery, but satisfying and has an excellent set up for the next book. I can't wait to see what's next. **Huge thanks to Simon and Schuster for the invitation to read**
    majibookshelf More than 1 year ago
    Elli's world grabbed me immediately when I read the synopsis. A world where there is a Valtia who has the power of ice and fire and also able to balance it, surrounded by Priests who are powerful in either one of these powers, as well as a Saadella who is the next in line to the Valtia. All Saadellas (and in turn Valtias) are distinguished by a birth mark. That is why Elli is currently the Saadella. Not only that, but her birth and existence was told through a prophecy. She will be the strongest Valtia in the history of mankind. Unfortunately once the Valtia dies, Elli's power don't come and she must escape. All of this was told in the synopsis, but unfortunately it took around 80 pages of the book to catch us up to the synopsis. I dislike it when a synopsis tells too much, and I am left reading and reading and reading things I already knew will happen. However once I passed that 80 pages, and Elli became on the run.. that's when things got interesting for me. I think The Impostor Queen is gruesome and graphic at times in terms of the horrific acts Elli had to go through. I was grimacing and wincing reading about her struggles, it was harsh, but I think it suited the flow of the book. Elli herself is a very naive but likeable character. Initially she was a bit too sheltered, living her life like a princess, but the tides were turned 180 degrees and she became a prisoner in her own tower, but she ended up running away... that's when she had to grow up.. really fast. I liked the survival aspect of the book, especially her meeting the outcasts and people with powers who aren't contained in the priesthood. The world building was done very well, that I have no complaint about. However the pacing of the novel suffered from being super slow, to quite exciting, so sluggish to a sudden showdown. I would definitely pick up the sequel if I had the chance. I am very interested in the direction of the story and what will happen to Elli as well as the kingdom and the structure that crumbled at the end of the book.
    BoundWithWords More than 1 year ago
    First of all let me say that if you didn't read the synopses of this book yet DON'T READ IT! Seriously, the synopses is like 20 to 30% of the start of it and for me that is a pretty big part of the story to have it spoiled to you. If you already read it them, well be aware that the things said in it will take a good part of the book, but don't worry you'll enjoy it nonetheless because this book is awesome. The start of this book was pretty slow for me, the first 20% or so, we have a lot to understand about this world and its magic and politic (also I may have to blame the fact that The Vanishing Throne came out right when I started reading this one and I mean, after that cliffhanger I needed to get to that one first) but once some spoilery things happen things get more fast paced and oh my god I finished the other 80% in a day. So what I'm trying to say is, if you think this has a slow start stick with it that will be worth ir, trust me. Elli, our main character, is a strong heroine in a completely new way, she was raised to be a queen and because of that is selfless but that isn't a weakness on her, there is some pretty funny scenes too when she is getting used to live on her own since she was pampered all her life but it was good to see that this didn't turned her useless, she wants to prove herself and her worthy even if not the way she was expecting. The secondary characters were also amazing, I absolutely loved Oskar (btw I kept thinking his name as Oksar when I was reading for some reason unknown) and his family, there was so much touching scenes with them. And oh my god the shippy feels, like honestly I'm all in with ships and stuff, I'm of the kind that think a kissing book is always better than a no-kissing book but this one took this to a whole new level, there was scenes that I giggled, scenes that I want to push their faces together and make them kiss already because omg I couldn't deal with all the sexual tension, and scenes where I wanted to punch both in the face for being such babies. Also, plus side Elli is a declared bissexual character, yep that's right finally I read a book about a main character that is bissexual and it was a fantasy one and it was amazing, CAN I GET AN AMEN. If you still don't think this book is for you I don't know what else to say to convince you, this is an amazing fantasy story that has a slow start but them starts building up and towards the end you don't know what hit you, since it's an explosion of feels both happy and not so much. There is a ship of goodness, a cast of characters that are incredible build that will make you care about them and a unique fantasy take on magic. Please just get reading this one already so we can discuss all the spoilery things
    EverAfterEsther More than 1 year ago
    The Impostor Queen reminded me a little bit of Disney's Frozen - now bear with me - but not in a way that felt overly familiar or predictable. The world of The Impostor Queen is a magical realm ruled by a young queen who is gifted with awe-inspiring fire and ice magic, in a world where magic isn't very common and the two types are not combined in such strength. And many of the characters struggle with themselves and their own identities. But that's where the similarities end. Reasons to Read: 1. Strong character development: Ellie's demeanor changes drastically over the course of the story, as she leaves the only life she's known behind her. It's a pivotal moment for her, because while she has clearly always been a curious person it spurs her to action and to finally start making decisions for herself. It can be tricky to write a character who experiences such extreme changes in just one book, but it's done well here in a way that feels natural and crucial. 2. A vibrant fantasy world: This is so important in fantasy books, but too often it's skipped over. Sarah Fine has put an incredible amount of thought and imagination into creating the world found in The Impostor Queen making it a captivating read in which it's easy to lose yourself as a reader. There are rules to magic and how it can be used, some of the politics are hinted at (and I'm hoping to learn more of later on in the series), along with secrets and mysteries. 3. A story that doesn't disappoint: It's fairly often that I read a book which I enjoy, but disappoints me in some small ways. Usually, it's because I feel the book relies on cliches or overused plot twists. I loved that The Impostor Queen didn't rely on any of these to keep the story moving ahead. For example, instead of having a love triangle, the romance in the story changes and flows naturally. And instead of dragging out the story with a ridiculous and unnecessary fight, the characters learn to deal with their problems head on. These are minor details, but they make for a much more enjoyable story. I've written about another one of Sarah Fine's books before, but I have to repeat myself here: Sarah is an exceptional author. She's talented and writes beautiful books which hold your attention and flow beautifully. She instills emotion behind each and every word and truly sets the stage for her story with the language she uses. The only thing I might add to the story is additional character development for some of the secondary characters. While Elli stands out as a lifelike character, I felt that some (Oskar and Sig, in particular) could have benefited from more backstory and more dimension. I'm optimistic that this is something that will come in the future, as they're able to engage more with the plot on their own instead of relying on revealing more about Elli's situation as The Impostor Queen needed to do. The Impostor Queen is a lively book, one that will readily hook readers for a satisfying read and left me anxiously awaiting the next book to learn more about the future Kupari and its citizens. ARC received from S&S Canada for review; no other compensation was received.
    Madison-s_Library More than 1 year ago
    A solid fantasy, The Impostor Queens brings together a balance of magic, romance and action. It is easy to tell from the first few chapters how this book is generally going to play out, who is going to be the bad guys and how they are going to take power. Elli has a lot to learn. When the book starts she is a pampered and childish girl, secluded from the world. But for all her naivety, she isn't stupid, asking questions and seeking to know more about the magic, where it comes from and why. I had to drag myself through the first part of the book, waiting for when she would have to flee, hoping this would either a) make things more interesting or b) give Elli the shake up to make her into a more likeable character. Fortunately it does both, as the book develops into something more complicated and far more enjoyable. The death of her mentor, the Valtia, really shakes Elli, as does her lack of magical ability and the sudden loss of her home, power and everything she holds dear. All this sudden hardship makes her into a much stronger character. Once Elli escapes from the temple the book really increases in pace and interest and I had no trouble devouring the chapters. I enjoyed reading about the time Elli spends in the bandit caves, as she shows her true determination to be helpful, stand on her own and learn. There is an undertone of LGBT, mainly bisexual, in this book as, completely isolated from the world except for the priests and her servants, Elli silently desires and loves her handmaiden. But when she escapes the temple she also falls for her rescuer, Oskar. These new feelings only confirm those she felt for her handmaiden, but she seems to realise that there is no future for that relationship and is happy to progress with the one that develops between her and Oskar. Oskar makes for a wonderful hero and romantic interest. He is protective, kind and gentle, wanting only to care for his family and those around him, while hiding his true, dangerous skills. I enjoyed reading about Oskar and Elli's developing relationship. This book provides everything a good fantasy should, romance, magical battles, lush landscapes, plenty of action and danger, and the complications of politics. However, I couldn't help finding it a little too predictable and standard. There are no big surprise twists or original ideas that hit you out of nowhere, which is fine if that's how you like your fantasy novels, but I wanted something to really set it apart from all the other magical tales out there. That said, it's a solid book. The end is by no means final. It is not a cliffhanger, but there is plenty more to resolve, plenty more battles to be fought, more to finalise on the romantic front, and more room for Elli to grow as a strong and independent character, so I'm just going to assume there will be a second book. The publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
    Alyssa75 More than 1 year ago
    ***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** The Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine Book One of The Impostor Queen series Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books Publication Date: January 5, 2016 Rating: 4 stars Source: eARC from Edelweiss Summary (from Goodreads): 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. What I Liked: Let me tell you all about the state of PANIC that I was in when I finished this book. At this present moment, Goodreads has this book listed as a standalone (no information about a sequel or anything) So I freaked out because there is NO way the book could end the way it did and NOT have at least one book to follow. Thank goodness for Publishers Weekly Rights Report - I dug up the one from the week of November 3, 2014, which stated that there would be TWO books in this series. Win! Elli is the Saadela, the girl who will succeed the Valtia of the Kupari when the magic leaves the Valtia and enters Elli. She's been made ready since she was a small child; when the time comes, the Valtia dies, and the magic leaves her... but it doesn't enter Elli. Elli is forced to leave the temple, and she flees to the outlands. A young man finds her almost dead, and takes her to a cavern full of thieves; strangely, a lot of them are wielders of fire, which is strange because any wielders are taken to the temple at a young age. The more Elli learns, the less certain she is of her life at the temple. One thing is for sure - the war is coming now, and Elli will play a decisive role. I am a huge fan of Sarah Fine's books - I've read ten of her eleven published books (Burn is the odd one out, but I have it for review!). This is book ten for me, and I absolutely loved it. The ending is satisfying but left me wanting so much more (as did book one of her other YA duology - Of Metal and Wishes). Elli is ignorant and naive at the beginning of this story - she has no idea what the true nature of anyone around her. She is wrapped up in the love of the Valtia, and her handmaiden, Mim. She has people who care about her, and she likes her life. When the Valtia dies, Elli is devastated, and when the magic doesn't enter Elli, she is crushed. She ends up half-dead in the outlands, and a young man helps her. Read the rest of my review on my blog, The Eater of Books! - eaterofbooks DOT blogspot DOT com :)