Fine, Sarah. The Impostor Queen, 432 pgs. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2016. $17.99. Content: Language: PG (1 swear; no “F”), Violence: PG-13, Mature Content: PG-13. Elli has been groomed to take over for the queen of the Kupari people for almost her entire life. When the current Valtia dies and the magic is supposed to come to her, nothing happens. She is an empty vessel. Elli undergoes torture to bring the magic out, but nothing happens. When her handmaiden learns that they will kill Elli, she smuggles her out of the city, bleeding and suffering from her wounds. Elli is saved by a passing hunter named Oskar and brought to his home in the caves. She is nursed back to health and begins to learn more about the magical kingdom she lives in and how much has been hidden from her about the magic wielders in the world. She finds out from a mysterious healer that she is meant to be powerful and to amplify the magic in others. She finds that she can help to balance out the magic within Oskar and they become close as she helps him cope with the ice magic within his body. Some of the other magic wielders who dwell within the cave decide that now is the time to attack the priests in the kingdom to change the threats to the other magic wielders in the city and so they join forces to band against the priests and the dangers they impose.
The premise and description of this book seemed so intriguing, but it was poorly executed. I had a really difficult time getting through the first third of the book. There was too much focus on insignificant details, particularly at the beginning, and the meat of the story began much too late. The main character is portrayed as very clueless throughout most of the book, then suddenly has moments of strength and intelligence that don’t match with how the reader is supposed to see her. Many of the most important aspects of the story aren’t brought up until the very end and it seemed like the purpose was just to extend the book into a series, rather than to make the first one be the best it could be. I was really disappointed. The torture scenes and descriptions of the bloodthirsty priests went on for much longer than was necessary, which is why the violence is rated PG-13. The main character is also naked multiple times, granted without a lot of descriptive language, but it was a little ridiculous. HS -OPTIONAL. Reviewed by: Shay, School Librarian