Series: The Impostor Queen #1
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publication Date: January 5, 2016
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Synopsis: 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.
I really enjoyed Elli as a main character. She was definitely a strong female heroine – however, not necessarily strong physically (which I definitely appreciated). What I loved most about her was her selflessness. Elli always put others first – whether it be the citizens of Kupari or the people she personally knows. Something I also admired about her was her determination. In the beginning, she was determined to be the best possible queen she could be in order to provide for her people. When she was unable to do that later on, she was still fighting to find her place in the world – she never wanted to be useless. I loved seeing these traits develop and grow throughout the novel and I’m really looking forward to seeing more of Elli in the next book! Also, I would like to note how glad I am that Elli isn’t “The Chosen One” since that trope is so overly used. AND I’m excited to see a bisexual main lead in a YA fantasy novel. I can’t say I’ve ever read a book in this genre where the MC is anything but straight.
As for the main male lead, Oskar, I really loved him as well. He had a lot of responsibility on his shoulders – like providing for his mother and little sister after the tragic death of his father. He also had some magic-related concerns of his own that were causing him physical harm. However, even though so many things have gone wrong for him, he still keeps going on with life. Oskar never complains about his situation – he just makes the best of it. I really admired this about him.
Also, I have to note how much I enjoyed Elli and Oskar’s relationship. It was definitely a slow burn kind of romance, so you don’t have to worry about any insta-love! They started off on the right foot: Oskar brought Elli to get some medical attention after she has experienced a series of painful hardships. Even though Oskar literally saved Elli’s life, he never expected anything in return. He was always kind and understanding, even when he had no knowledge of where Elli came from or what she was doing in the outlands. To wrap it up, Oskar and Elli are so great together and I really hope they make it as a couple to the end!
The magic system and the world were two of my other favorite things about this book. In the novel, there are wielders who can produce ice or fire magic, or sometimes both. If someone can wield magic, they are sent to the temple to be trained by the priests. The Valita is the queen who has the most powerful magic. She has a perfect balance of ice and fire magic. Since the magic the Valtia has lasts much longer than the body it is in, the magic goes to a new person once the former has died. This new person is called the Saadella: a currently non-magical girl with copper colored hair, ice-blue eyes, and a special mark somewhere on her body. Elli was given to the priests at age four since she had all the markings for a Saadella. She has lived at the temple for the majority of her life, knowing one day she will have the Valtia’s powerful magic within her. I really loved learning more about how magic worked in this world as the book went on.
The only complaint I have about this book (and the reason why this isn’t quite a 5 star book) is that it started off really slow for me. I was initially very intrigued by the prologue but then it didn’t seem like a lot was happening for awhile. I believe it took me around 150 or 200 pages before I was 100% hooked. I’m hoping for more action straight from the get-go in the next book.
Bottom Line: I really enjoyed the characters, magic system, and world in this novel. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who’s looking for a fantasy novel with fantastic characters and a unique way of dealing with magic.