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.
To say The Orphan Queen was a very different reading experience for me is an understatement. I’m the person who gets attached to books and just falls in love with them. You might notice my ratings tend to lead towards the high side no matter how much I might or might not love the book. Because I love reading so much that I can see good things in every book I read. I fall in love with characters and worlds so I wind up giving huge ratings even when I know deep down I probably shouldn’t.
With The Orphan Queen I didn’t have that instant connection to Wil or Tobiah or, well, anyone. I was loving the book, the world, the writing. But I wasn’t connecting to this series so it was a solid three star book, which was huge for me to say. But as I read the plot deepened and I found myself pushing it up to four stars, then four point five, and by the time I ended I realized it was nearly 2 AM and I promised I’d only read a chapter before bed and I was just sitting in my bed with my cat on my lap and I was just in shocked by how great that book was.
I don’t know when I fell so deeply in love with these characters but somewhere in this book it went from “C’mon Wil, get over it, let’s go,” to “Get your hands of my precious princess.” Don’t ask me when it happened I don’t even know. That is what really wound up making me give this book five stars.
Predictability. I’m not sure if this is why I didn’t fall in love instantly or not, but from like chapter two I knew so much. I knew the vigilante’s identity, I knew who she was going to fall in love with. I knew exactly how things were going to play out. I didn’t know how Meadows would wind up playing the pieces she’d started with on the board, but I knew they were there.
Holy Info Dump Batman! The first twenty pages or so of this book had such insane amounts of info dump that it nearly hurt my head. The way that it was worked into the story wasn’t flawless, either. It came across as an info dump rather than people talking. It was useful information, sure, but I wound up forgetting half of it because I didn’t understand the world well enough to be able to use this new information in any real way. I mostly wound up learning about the world the old fashioned way, which is to say over time through the book.
As I mentioned the predictability before, I feel I should mention it again, I knew exactly who people were and so on and so forth, and yet when that reveal happened there was an emotional punch to the gut. It shouldn’t have been, honestly when I read books that I’ve figured out in two seconds there’s more of a sense of relief that it’s finally out there and I can just move forward with the story. However, this time that emotional gut wrenching feeling was there and I was so pleasantly happy that it was.
The characters never met me half way, never changed into something that I could fall in love with. Instead, through writing Meadows made me take those steps to her characters, made me meet them all the way and fall in love anyway, without me ever realizing she was doing it. That was masterful, to say the least.
I haven’t spoken on world building yet, but you all know how I feel about worlds, The Orphan Queen had a different world, which I loved. The wraith makes a very interesting sentient and yet not villain, and I’m super excited to see how the heck we’re gonna beat this thing.
I can’t help but say yes, you should. Be prepared to slog through the first little bit, but overall the book is really, really worth it. I was amazed at just how much I loved this book and just how badly I want The Mirror King.