Sunday, November 8, 2015

Review: The Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine


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. I LOVE Elli's determination to learn the skills she never knew - for example, dressing herself by herself. Elli doesn't ever stop trying to learn, to do more, to earn her keep.

Oskar, the young man who takes her in to his family (his mother Maarika, and little sister, Freya). is stern and compassionate and almost withdrawn. Everyone in the cavern has their secrets, and Oskar is no exception. Elli has her own too. Oskar struggles with his, and Elli wants to help him in any way she can. He's distant, but she never stops trying to help those who are helping her. 

As always, Sarah Fine does an amazing job with the characterization of the protagonists and secondary characters. Elli really grew on me (I wasn't sure what to think of her at first), and I loved Oskar from the moment we meet him. Maarika and Freya are easy to like in their own ways. Sig, a young man and former friend of Oskar's, is hot-tempered and difficult to handle, but even he is such a well-constructed character. The "villains", whom I will not disclose, are malicious but we can see why they are the way they are.

I love the world-building of this fantasy novel. The idea of a Valtia (queen who has both ice and fire magic) and a Saadela (empty vessel who will be filled with that power when the current Valtia dies) is an interesting one, fairly original and definitely intriguing. I loved the setting of the outlands the most - it's like Iceland or one of those gorgeous wintry European countries (check out the character names, too!). When the secrets and prophecies and magic unravel, everything starts to make sense. I really like how the magic unfolds in this book, and how big a role it plays.

There is romance! The author had me guessing for a part of the book because I was sure that Elli would fall for this boy in the temple, but it was way too early in the book. You can probably already tell - the love interest is Oskar, and we are introduced to him in the outlands. As soon as he emerges in the story, you KNOW he's the love interest. I like him a lot! He's like a lumberjack. The romance doesn't start as soon as they meet - it's a slow-burn romance, the kind that Fine is really good at writing. I love the romance! No love triangle.

The ending isn't a cliffhanger (not really), but it isn't quite wrapped up, and there is so much more to be discovered in the next book. I wish for a smidgen more of a happy ending in some areas, but then, other areas are happy ish. Basically I want the sequel. Which is also the conclusion novel. I want it! 

What I Did Not Like:

Ehhh. I can't think of anything specific that comes to mind. Maybe more romantic scenes. There were a good amount, and given that Elli was raised like a nun, I understand why Fine held back a bit. Perhaps there will be more in book two (but I doubt it, given something that the author told me about the setup of book two). Still, this book was great! It's getting four stars not because of anything "bad", but because it doesn't feel quite like a five-star read.

Would I Recommend It:

I sooo recommend this novel to any fantasy lover out there! Also anyone who loves a swoony slow-burn romance. Oskar is probably everything I like in a guy (minus the beard, I hate beards. Stubble, maybe). An epic story that will continue in 2017 - don't miss it!

Rating:

4.5 stars -> rounded down to 4 stars (maybe I'm still a tad bit mopey over the ending). No cliffhanger but... the sequel couldn't come fast enough!


Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

14 comments:

  1. Since I have this one up for reading and reviewing myself, and hopefully I'll get out of this reading slump and get on with my reading eARCs pile soon, I skim-read your review but slow burn romance and amazing world building sound like right up my alley!

    Thanks for the warning about the ending, Alyssa! You know how I like to be forewarned about cliffies and the like!

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    1. Oh no, reading slump! This might be one to get you out of it. ;) I could see you absolutely adoring this one, Pili! Enjoy!

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  2. YAYYY FOR GOOD BOOKS! I'm not usually into the fantasy thing, BUT ever since GoT, I'm kinda in this fantasy kick and am SO not ashamed! In fact, I think I'm going to try it out now! <3 I'm glad you liked this one so much though girl and SUPER happy that there is in fact a sequel! WOOHOO! <3

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    1. AHHHH, KEIONDA, THAT IS BLASPHEMY! *shuts ears* Fantasy is basically my life. :D I'm glad to hear that you've been enjoying fantasy. This is one that you might love - or Truthwitch, which I've reviewed today (Monday). ^_^

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  3. This book sounds really good! I still haven't read any of Sarah Fine's books, but there are so many that I want to read! I will get to them someday! I like the sound of the romance in this book! Great review! :)

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    1. CYRA. WHAT IS THIS. You *must* read something by Sarah Fine! Try Of Metal and Wishes - especially since that series is complete! Thank youuu!

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  4. YAAAY :D So glad you mostly loved this book Alyssa. <3 Ahh. Now I must read it too, hih :D You have made me so curious. YAY for good romance with no triangle :D Glad you liked the rest of the book too. <3 Thank you for sharing sweetie :)

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    1. I really did! I can't wait for the next book, GOSH I NEED IT! No love triangle indeed, which made me happy! You're very welcome - and thank YOU, Carina!

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  5. I'm reading this one soon!!! I know you love Fine and did love Marked (listing to Claimed now), so it's all your fault!!

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    1. YAAASSSS! I am so excited about this! I accept all the blame willingly. :D :D :D :D

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  6. Excited for this one! Sounds like something different for Sarah Fine, and yay for no love triangle! Lovely review <3

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    1. It was different, and yet, the heroine is just as tough, the male protagonist just as swoony. I can't wait for the next one!

      Thank you!

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  7. I haven't read any of Sarah's books yet, but I do have a copy of Of Metal and Wishes at home. I've been interested in this one since I first saw it on GR, and I hope I can get a copy soon, seeing as you loved it so much! Great review, and I'm glad there's a second book in the series coming :)

    Sophie @ Sophie Reads YA

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    1. YAY! I loved the duology - both were amazing, but I especially loved the second book. It's crazy how much I've really enjoyed all of the Sarah Fine books I've read so far. O_O But they're so good!

      Thank you, Sophie!

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