The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows
Book One of The Orphan Queen series
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: March 10, 2015
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher
Summary (from Goodreads):
Wilhelmina has a hundred identities.
She is a princess. When the Indigo Kingdom conquered her homeland, Wilhelmina and other orphaned children of nobility were taken to Skyvale, the Indigo Kingdom’s capital. Ten years later, they are the Ospreys, experts at stealth and theft. With them, Wilhelmina means to take back her throne.
She is a spy. Wil and her best friend, Melanie, infiltrate Skyvale Palace to study their foes. They assume the identities of nobles from a wraith-fallen kingdom, but enemies fill the palace, and Melanie’s behavior grows suspicious. With Osprey missions becoming increasingly dangerous and their leader more unstable, Wil can’t trust anyone.
She is a threat. Wraith is the toxic by-product of magic, and for a century using magic has been forbidden. Still the wraith pours across the continent, reshaping the land and animals into fresh horrors. Soon it will reach the Indigo Kingdom. Wilhelmina’s magic might be the key to stopping the wraith, but if the vigilante Black Knife discovers Wil’s magic, she will vanish like all the others
Jodi Meadows introduces a vivid new fantasy full of intrigue, romance, dangerous magic, and one girl’s battle to reclaim her place in the world.
What I Liked:
Holy guacamole. This book. The ending. Oh my gosh. I literally just finished the book, so bear with me as I write this review. So... my review might not be thoroughly coherent. It might just be a bunch of flails. I might not even make it through the entire review. OH GOSH MY HEART.
Wil is an orphan, a princess - orphan queen - of Aecor. She and a ragtag group of orphans from Aecor are trying to take back Aecor. To do so, she and her friend Melanie masquerade as destitute nobles of Liadia, so that they can have refuge in the Skyvale Palace... and get information about Aecor, the armies of the Indigo Kingdom, anything useful that could aid the Ospreys (Wil and her group) in their attempt to reclaim Aecor. But little go as planned with the presence of wraith, Black Knife, and a danger against which even Wil cannot guard herself.
I love fantasy. I love epic fantasy. I love high fantasy. Basically, I love fantasy (if you couldn't already tell). It's my favorite genre, and I can't ever seem to get enough. I especially love fantasy in YA literature, because it's amazing and creative and wonderful, but not heavy and boring (like in adult fiction - in my opinion). Jodi Meadows masterfully creates the world in this book. Her writing is lush and rich, and her world-building is very thorough and imaginative. I had no problems picturing the towns, palace, and other locations in my mind.
Wil is a very likable heroine. It was easy to root for her throughout the book, it was easy to see her side of things, it was easy to like her. She is brave and fierce, selfless and intelligent. I liked the way her mind works, the way she thought through things. She stood toe-to-toe with Patrick (the Aecor boy who saved her and other Aecor orphans), challenging his ruthless decisions. She never threw her title in any of the Ospreys' faces, but she always commanded authority when she felt necessary. She fought with Black Knife (the vigilante who has actually been killing wraith creatures, which is pretty noble). She pretended to be a dead noble for weeks, and did an excellent job of it. I really liked Wil, and I hope I continue liking her in this series!
There are so many amazing secondary characters in this novel! Wil's best friend, Melanie, accompanies her to the palace, also a dead noble. I liked Melanie, though I definitely questioned her loyalty and her being at times. There was Black Knife, a masked vigilante who is curious about Wil, and always seems to find her. There is James, the prince's cousin and guard, who is a great friend to Wil. He's hilarious, and very flirtatious and sweet. There is the prince himself, who is (as Wil says) "sour". I liked him though. The Ospreys - the orphans from Aecor who are helping Wil reclaim her kingdom. So many well-written, three-dimensional characters that I loved.
This book is broken up into three parts. Wil goes to the palace with Melanie, to obtain necessary information for their plans. But there are things that Wil is curious about, like wraith in Liadia. Wil goes to investigate the fallen Liadian barrier, hoping that no one at the palace will question her feigned illness. I love that there is more than one plot in this book, more than one story. Wil needs to sneak around the palace, to get information. Wil is trying to find out more about wraith and the wraithlands. Wil is also leaving the palace at night, and sometimes tangles with Black Knife (meaning they fight and threaten each other, and possibly kill wraith creatures every now and then). There is a lot going on in this book, so you can't get bored... you might get bored with one part of the story (probably not though), and there is another part of the story to pick you up!
There IS romance in this book. I'm purposefully not saying much about the specifics, who is who. But I will say that I LOVE the romance. It's complicated, it's twisted, it's difficult - and what's new, when it comes to romance in fantasy novels? But there isn't a love triangle, there is no insta-love, and I have high hopes for the romance (though I probably should be more wary, for certain specific reasons).
The ending is AWFUL. Awful as in awfully heartbreaking. I hate the ending, but it definitely adds to the story, and I see why the author chose to end this book in such a way. It's cliffhanger-y, so if you hate those, perhaps you might be better off waiting until closer to book two's publication (in 2016?!). But then, we'll probably have to wait for a book three... reading and waiting for books is so difficult! ****EDIT: the author confirmed that there will only be two books in this series - a duology! So, not too much waiting.
What I Did Not Like:
This book loses an entire star from me because of the ending. The cliffhanger is so mean. Like I said above, I get it, but... it's a heartbreaking ending. And so this book gets one less star. Sorry not sorry.
Would I Recommend It:
I TOTALLY RECOMMEND THIS BOOK TO EVERYONE! Fantasy lovers especially, but anyone who enjoys a well-written story (so like, all readers?). Just beware of the ending - it WILL break you. You might be better off waiting for a completed series (see my edit above though - there are only two books to this series!). But hey, I'm not trying to make anyone's decisions for them. I obviously couldn't wait to read this one, so, I'll just suffer quietly.
4.5 stars -> rounded down to 4 stars. Because of that ending. I love/hate it. I love this book though. It's definitely a favorite so far (despite not earning a 5-star rating), and I can't wait to read the novellas, and the sequel novel! In 2016. Ugh.
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