Monday, June 20, 2016

*Spoiler Free Review* The Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine

First of all, I absolutely adore Sarah Fine's writing. Her Guards of the Shadowlands series is one of the most original, exciting, and amazing series I have ever read. She truly crafts characters that are believable and relatable, and relationships that feel real and true to life. The Impostor Queen was no exception. 

Sixteen-year-old Elli was only a child when the Elders of Kupari chose her to succeed the Valtia, the queen who wields infinitely powerful ice and fire magic in service of her people. The only life Elli has known has been in the temple, surrounded by luxury, tutored by magic-wielding priests, preparing for the day when the queen perishes—and the ice and fire find a new home in Elli, who is prophesied 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, 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 her love 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 choose the right side before the kingdom and its magic are completely destroyed.
This book started off kind of slow, with a highly descriptive introduction to Elli, and the world that she lives in. I appreciate world building done in the format of this book--where the main character goes about living their life, and shows us their world, instead of just explaining it to us.

I also loved the magic in this story. The way that it functions, and the way that those who have it use it, is phenomenal and makes for a truly exciting story. The story itself starts off slowly, but after you get to the action later in the book, it comes together. The magic and prophecies are key to this story--Elli has been raised since she was a toddler to lead her people, and dedicate her life to them, but that crashes down around her when the magic doesn't enter her after her mentor dies. Dealing with the grief of losing basically the closest thing to a mother she has ever had, Elli has to leave behind everything she has ever known or understood. This sounds like a pretty common trope at this point, but Fine's writing ability helps it take on a life of it's own.

Overall as a main character, I really enjoyed being in Elli's mind. She was honest about her failings and her world. The only issue that I had with her was that she would jump in head first to sacrifice herself when the time didn't really call for it. She was a little dense to her surroundings and the people around her. While it often makes sense for her character, it was frustrating at times because Elli is also strong and worthy. She grows so much from the first page to the last, and as a reader, you can't help but be proud of her. This is extremely reminiscent of Lela from Fine's other series.

The side characters are just as well-written and believable as Elli. The Elders are a large portion of this book, and they are fully-written despite being on the side. They have personalities and are not a lump of characters, like they might be under some other authors. I absolutely adored Oskar, who also grows significantly throughout. Elli draws you in, and Oskar keeps you reading. His mother Maarika is a fantastic addition to the book, and I enjoyed reading her interactions with Elli. She and Oskar's sister Freya bring out sides of Elli that are necessary for her growth as a character, and the progression of the story.

Because this is a spoiler-free review, I won't go in to details about the story, but this book is one of my favorites of 2016 so far. I highly recommend it--I ended up giving it 4.5/5 STARS

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