Pima County Public Library: Teen Book Review: The Impostor Queen

This review was submitted by one of our talented teenage virtual volunteers.

In the copper-rich lands of the Kupari people, Elli is chosen to succeed the current queen, or Valtia, who will next have the same power of fire and ice. When she was discovered at the age of four with the telltale signs of a Saadella or the next in line for the crown, she was taken to the temple to be tutored and cared for by the elders and priests in order to be prepared a vessel for the ancient Kupari magic that was to be passed on after the death of her Valtia. Unfortunately, after an attack by the Soturi Empire, the weakened body of the Valtia succumbs to the imbalance of magic within her, forcing Elli to take her place.

When her people needed her services and protection most, the magic doesn’t work on Elli. Even under the pressure of torture to awaken her abilities, she remains unable to conjure the magic. Her loyal servant Mim warns her of the elder’s plot to kill her and helps her escape from the temple. Mim is caught and Elli roams the streets of the city until she is banished to the outside world for stealing. She is found by a powerful ice bearer named Oskar, who brings her back to an untouched copper mine with many other exiles. Here she makes new friendships (and a little romance) and learns many dark secrets that the elders have stashed away for centuries.

The first fifty pages may be confusing to some due to the unique and generally unexplained vocabulary the Kupari use, but the story is based on unique and engaging premises that you will read to the end if you pull through it. Sarah Fine also paints a colorful, rich and sometimes cultic culture in Kupari and mixes magic in in an extraordinary way, which increases the charm of the novel.

However, I believe the main character, Elli, could have been made better. She made me feel like she didn’t have a distinct personality compared to more fascinating characters like Sig and Raimo, and personally I wasn’t as interested in her as I should have. And the whip scenes may be hard to take for a younger audience. But overall, Fine brought an adorable and entertaining story to the table. I will definitely get the sequel.


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