Author: Sarah Fine
Series: The Impostor Queen (Book 1)
Publication: Margaret K. McElderry Books (January 5, 2016)
Description: The elders chose Elli to be queen, but they chose wrong in this beautifully crafted novel in the tradition of Kristin Cashore and Victoria Aveyard.
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.
My Thoughts: THE IMPOSTOR QUEEN takes place in a world with magic. It is told by the young woman who is heir to the throne and who will inherit powerful magic when the current Valtia dies. Elli has been raised to be the heir since she was taken from her parents as a young child. She is curious about her world and about the magic she will inherit. She is deeply loving. She loves the Valtia that she is allowed to see only twice a year and she loves her handmaiden who is charged with her daily care. She aches for connection that she isn't allowed by the priests who control her education and her life.
When her Valtia dies after repelling an attempt at invasion, Elli doesn't inherit her magic. Despite tortures including being locked in a copper box for hours and a severe beating which Elli accepts because the priests tell her it will trigger her magic, the magic doesn't come. Her handmaiden saves her when she learns that the final trial will be cutting her throat. She disguises Elli and sends her to wait in the city for her. But the handmaiden never arrives and Elli is banished from the city when she steals some food.
Near death from the beating and from her encounter with a bear trap, Elli is rescued by a young hunter named Oskar and taken to his home in the caves where she learns that not all magic users have been rounded up by the priests. Some have managed to escape the city and are living in the wild. While most magic users are balanced having power over both fire and ice, Oskar is not. He has strong ice magic only. It is so strong and Oskar fears it so much that it is killing him. Elli learns that she can siphon off his ice magic and that it doesn't hurt her. Since his first use of his magic caused his beloved father's death, Oskar is reluctant to use his magic and wants only a life of peace.
Oskar's counterpart is Sig who has a strong fire magic and no ice magic. His experience with his magic and with the priests who tried to control him is different. Sig wants war. He wants to take down the priests and the Valtia. He doesn't have a plan for what will replace them except that he wants them gone. When he learns that Elli can make his magic stronger, he tries to force her to assist him. But Elli was raised to be queen and she is concerned for the innocents and for her people as a whole.
This was an exciting story. I especially liked watching Elli grow from a pampered and helpless princess into a strong young woman who was competent and kind. I loved her relationship with Oskar and the love that grew between them. It was refreshing not to have a love triangle in the book. While the book feels satisfyingly complete, there is certainly room for a sequel or two.
Something akin to delight deepens the rows of wrinkles on his gaunt cheeks. "Because you, my dear, are completely immune to magic. It won't help you." He raises his eyebrows. "But it can't hurt you either."I got this eARC by invitation from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.