Book Review: The Imposter Queen


The Imposter Queen
By: Sarah Fine
Published by: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Release date: January 5, 2016
Genre: YA fantasy
432 pages
Source: ARC kindly provided by publisher

I really enjoy stories where the prophesied hero(ine) doesn’t live up to the hype.  And that is exactly what happens to poor Elli.  She was chosen at age four, raised in the Temple on the Rock, and groomed to be the next Queen of the Kupari, destined to be the most powerful wielder of the land’s magic in history.  But when the Queen dies using that magic to fend off invaders, it does not flood into Elli as it is supposed to.  She can’t even light a candle.  Disgraced and in danger, Elli runs away and finds herself living amongst outcasts.  Why was the prophecy wrong?  Why do the queens of Kupari rarely live beyond thirty years old?  What is really going on in the Temple on the Rock?

The Impostor Queen is pretty much your perfect spring break or summer beach read.  The story has magic and action, with a little dab of both mystery and romance.  The heroine, Elli, is inquisitive, determined, likeable, and has a clear sense of duty even though she is clearly not the queen her people need; she is both deeply affected by her new circumstances, and at the same time not afraid of hard work.  The supporting characters are also fairly memorable, but I can’t say why without revealing spoilers.  Sarah Fine drew me into the story and made it difficult to put down, even at 1 AM.  She has clearly mastered the cliffhanger chapter ending!  Her writing itself is like a cool drink of water (also perfect for the beach, btw), smooth, clear and satisfying.

I am curious to learn more about how the Kupari magic actually works.  How does the magic seem to know to jump from the dying queen to the next in line?  What really happens if there is no “next in line”?  I look forward to reading the next installment in this series.


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.