Review: The Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine

January 4, 2016

Title: The Impostor Queen (Untitled #1
Author: Sarah Fine
Publication date: January 5, 2016
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon & Schuster)
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Source: Publisher (Edelweiss)
Amazon Goodreads TBD
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.
The buzz for The Impostor Queen has been huge in the last few months, so naturally, I was ecstatic when I got the chance to review the story! Here are the...


Not Your Typical Protag:

Typically, the main characters in a fantasy book are your upbeat, kickass, I-will-succeed-no-matter-what types. Elli, however, is nothing like that. She's a naive, second guessing, and scared MC who doubts herself at every turn. Her confidence in herself is not all that great even at the beginning, and after her fall, it only worsens. But that is not to say that she was snively or cowardly in any way. Far from that, in fact. For someone who has been treated as a princess and hasn't set foot outside the palace in over 10 years, Elli comports herself pretty well in the outside world. Her growth throughout the book is slow, but sure. It's clear that she still has a long way to go, but what progress she has made me cheer for her so hard!

Elli identifies as a bisexual, but what I loved was that Fine does not make this a focus of the story. There are allusions to it, but otherwise, the bulk of the story concentrates on Elli's quest to help her people.

Interesting Secondary Characters

I truly enjoyed the secondary characters in this story - Oskar, Freya, Sig, and all the others at the caves. Oskar, needless to say, was my favourite, but I can't wait to read more about all of them in the coming books.

There is also Raimo, the medicine man, who plays a mad Yoda-like character. While his character does reveal important plot lines, I wasn't very impressed with him. His whole cackling-mysterious-crazy-ole-man act felt kind of artificial to me, and pretentious to boot.

Multiple Villains

Woah, this book is filled with powerful villains left and right, and the author alludes to a couple more who haven't showed themselves yet. While the Kupari priests play the main antagonists during this book, the Soturi, an invading force from the North, are a malevolent presence hovering over the Kupari, waiting for the right moment to strike.

I would like to make a special mention of Sig here. He starts off as a villain, who turns into an ally, and in the end, we are left unsure of what he will become. We learn that his past has been filled with horrible, gruesome hardships, and my heart really went out to him. I truly empathised with him, and I'm curious to see how he turns out in the next book. Sig just might turn out to be another Murtagh or Darkling (though no one can ever be equal to the Darkling, of course).

Sarah Fine's Writing

I remember when Of Metal and Wishes was released, everyone was raving about Fine's writing. I didn't read the series because horror or anything to do with ghosts is a big no-no for me, but I remembered the praise for the writing, given that I'm always on the lookout for great writing. So when the buzz for this book started, I wasn't surprised that people brought up Fine's writing again, and I knew I had to check it out. Here is my honest opinion of it:

The Impostor Queen is very well written. The worldbuilding is solid, the concepts are complex, but mostly clearly presented, and there isn't any info dump. The pacing is perfect, although I did feel like it ended too soon (lol I'm surprised that 300+ pages felt like that. Goes to show how cool the writing is). However, while there is no overt fault that I could find with the writing, I can't say that the prose blew me over. You know what a sucker I am for great prose, and I had been expecting great things.

Unexpectedly Gives You The Feels

Seeing how I didn't fall in love the prose, I was not ready for how the feels bowled me over at unexpected moments. Usually, it's only when I fall in love with the prose of a book that I get the feels, but it was not so with The Impostor Queen. Fine aces in writing emotions, I tell you. Her dialogues especially, are very evocative.

"Our lives aren't ours, darling," she murmured. "We are only the caretakers of this magic. We don't use it to protect ourselves - we use it only to protect the Kupari. They call us queens, but what we really are is servants."

What I found interesting was that for me, I got the most feels from not-so-common quarters, like the realtionship between the Valtia and her Saadella, which is almost sisterly. Its an instinctive, deep rooted urge to protect and love, thats quite beautiful, really. The romance is also well written, realistic, and so slow burn.

Bottomline: The Impostor Queen is a unique new addition to the fantasy genre, and seems to tick all the boxes - diversity included. I'm optimistic about this new series, and I can't wait to read more.

I'm trying out a new thing with my reviews, and I hope to continue with them through the year, but let's see. Its a "pinnable review" of sorts, which you can pin to Pinterest (yeah, duh). I thought it would be fun, to get an idea of how the book is at a glance.


Ink Scratchers: I think it could stand alongside series such as Red Queen and possibly even Throne of Glass to be one of the best current ongoing fantasy series.

Night Owl Book Cafe: I love that there are two forces that make up the magic, fire and ice, and how the two effect the Valtia as well as the magic wielders.

The Quiet Concert: There isn't anything this book doesn't offer readers. It was exciting, new, adventurous, interesting, romantic, brave, and ultimately satisfying.

Holding Quote:
I didn't choose to be chosen, and I will not choose to die.

Everything fell apart, and I can't put it back together. 

What do you think of the whole idea of a "pinnable review"? Do you think its a good idea? If yes, do you think I should make any changes?