Synopsis (from Goodreads):
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.
*Sigh* Feast your eyes on this cover, my friends. I’m so enamoured with this cover. Not only is it visually compelling, but there’s some nice symbolism going on there too with the mask. The text placement is also unique and unexpected. The girl on the cover actually looks like the girl in the book!
Oh, look at that. I’m judging a book by its cover. How disgraceful of me.
It’s not that I didn’t like The Impostor Queen. This book has a lot of things going for it: an interesting premise, good worldbuilding, a unique system of magic… but I confess, I wasn’t as into it as I wanted to be. And I really wanted to like this one. It’s got a lot of the things I like: magic, queens, a fantasy setting… and yet, I was unmoved.
For me this was a classic case of “it’s not you, it’s me.” A lot of readers will no doubt enjoy this book. But for me, I had a hard time connecting with the characters: Elli just isn’t the type of character I’m usually drawn to. She’s a bit too naïve for my liking and while I know that’s because of how she was raised, I just had a hard time getting into her headspace. I also found the pacing to be a bit on the slow side and while that isn’t usually a dealbreaker for me, I just wasn’t feeling it this time. But then things really get kicked into overdrive in the final act and suddenly I was REALLY INTO IT. It just took a while to get there. Too long a while, maybe. There’s also the whole “chosen one isn’t really the chosen one” spin, which came up in another book I read last year, A Shadow Bright and Burning. I had a hard time committing to that one too, possibly for the same reason. Maybe I’m just not a fan of this particular premise. Maybe I just want my chosen ones to be chosen ones. But if you do find that premise compelling, this may be the book for you.
This is also a case of YMMV – your mileage may vary. There’s a lot to admire here: the clash between the temple and the outsiders was well written and the author did an excellent job of weaving in plot threads that are going to be taken up in the sequel. There’s a slow, ominous buildup that something unseemly is happening in the temple that will keep you guessing and when we finally learn what it is, it’s quite shocking. But the hints were there all along. Very well played. And the main character is bi! While I wish we could have gone deeper into Elli’s bisexuality, there’s always room for that in the sequel.
- Cover art/book design: 9.5/10 A+
- Plot/Concept: 8.5/10 A-
- Main character: 8/10 B+
- Secondary characters: 7.5/10 B
- Setting/Worldbuilding: 8.5/10 A-
- Writing: 8/10 B+
- Pacing: 7/10 B-
- Romance: 7.5/10 B
- Ending: 8/10 B+
- Overall: B+.
Verdict: A solid 3.5 star fantasy novel with lots of potential for a great sequel.