The Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine
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Series: Yes, #1
Release date: January 5th, 2016
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry (Simon & Schuster)
Length: 432 pages
Source: e-ARC from the publisher
Rating: Slow start, epic finish
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.
TIQ is a tricky one, because I was a bit dubious to start and wildly enthusiastic at the end. If you don't love the slow, establishing opening chapters, I still recommend sticking with it, because once the ball gets rolling it's damn near impossible to put it down. Sometimes you have to give high fantasy a little bit of time to grab you, and The Impostor Queen is definitely one of those.
The opening chapters set up the fascinating world that Elli, our heroine, belongs to. Kupari is govered by a queen called the Valtia, who is always a young maiden born with perfectly balanced fire and ice magic. When she dies, the magic flows into the next Valtia.
Elli is her Valtia's heir, the Saadella. Like the synopsis says, the story gets going when the Valtia dies and Elli--whoops--doesn't inherit the magic, throwing Kupari into chaos and utterly upending Elli's cushy life. TIQ takes a while to get us there, making sure that we get to know curious, naive Elli and her world. We see her romantic and adoring feelings for Mim, her handmaiden and really the only person close to her in the world, since Saadellas (aka the heir apparent) are so cloistered and coddled. (Yep, Elli likes both the ladies AND the gents! Woo!) We learn about the Elders, and the temple, and the magic and history of Kupari, and it's not exactly brimming with forward momentum. Like I said, Ellis is coddled. She is passive. She is pulled here and there, and I found myself getting worried, because I love every single brand of heroine you can throw at me...except for heroines who are passengers in their own stories.
|More Fire!Elsa because WHY NOT|
I loved learning more of the lore and the fate and the magic of Elli's world. This book is so much about the magic of ice and fire, which is deliciously complicated. It's about a passive, reactive girl learning to take charge of her own destiny finally, and to become a heroine with her own will. That kind of arc always takes a slow build and almost always starts a bit turgidly, but DAMN, this book builds. Please stick with it if you struggle! There's ICE and FIRE and DEATH and EXPLOSIONS and DRAMA at the end. It's totally worth it.
Besides, I think I know what's coming in the conclusion next year, and I'm totally amped for it.
|Except Elli's more like "the cold super bothers me every day"|