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.
This book took me a little while to get invested in, but by about chapter nine I was there. The slow start has a lot of necessary information, establishes an understanding of the life Elli was raised to believe in, and draws clear character traits in Elli. We can see from the beginning that she in inquisitive, fast to love others, and has a fierce belief in herself. It was really interesting watching those elements grow when she was in the outlands and to see how her faith in herself altered and matured.
I enjoyed the new take on ‘the chosen one.’ She is still unique, but she is not at all what she expected to be, and still has to grapple with that revelation to find out how she can still serve her country and her people, while also maintaining a semblance of the life she created for herself outside of the temple.
The romantic entanglements I think are also going to draw a lot of people to this story. When we enter the book Elli is in love with her handmaiden, bringing some diverse relationships into the mix. While it’s never really developed past infatuation, I think it is still a nice element and shows how the YA genre is continuing to try and become more diverse and inclusive. Enter Oskar, who is definitely swoon worthy. I felt like their relationship was much more real than the one with her handmaiden, and I’m really interested to see what happens with them given the circumstances we left them dealing with.
Overall, I was impressed by the original take on ‘the chosen one,’ the intricacies of the magic in the world, the political backdrop, and the darkness that permeated the conflict of the story. Definitely a series I plan to continue.