It takes two people to make one queen.
Elli (The Impostor Queen, 2016) is Valtia—queen—of Kupari. Only two other people know she secretly lacks the innate fire and ice magic that the real Valtia would have. Elli can balance and channel magic, but the magic must be someone else’s. Meanwhile, Ansa (The Cursed Queen, 2017) and her people, the Krigere, edge toward Kupari, not necessarily planning to raid and plunder it but desperate for a place to live. Ansa bursts with fire and ice magic so forceful that she kills accidentally and endangers herself. As Elli and Ansa alternate the first-person narration, Fine crafts tantalizing oppositions of what each protagonist knows (sometimes falsely) about the other. Readers always know the truth. Two magic-wielding elders figure prominently: Raimo, faithful to Elli, and centuries-old Kauko, manipulative, cruel, and grotesque. A twisting and unpredictable plot—inexplicable earthquakes, battles, witch hunts, loss of beloveds, trickery, passion, loyalty, betrayal, fire, ice, and (nonconsensual) blood drinking—balances deliciously with the magnetic pull of destiny toward Elli and Ansa’s predetermined final family. The protagonists, both explicitly queer, are from radically different cultures that speak different languages, though both of them (and almost everyone) are white.
Fiery, icy, sad, thrilling. (Fantasy. 12-16)