Book: The Orphan Queen
Author: Jodi Meadows
Series: The Orphan Queen
Standing: Book 1
POV: 1st person by Wilhelmina, past tense
Genre: YA fantasy
Source: Physical copy
Release: March 10th, 2015
Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books
Favourite line: "I've never tried the fiddle, but I think I'd be good at it." I smacked the bow across the man's neck. Wood stung skin with a loud clap. "That was a nice sound. Let me try again."
Rating: 5 Stars
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.
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
My FEELS. *hyperventilates*
A princess trying to get her throne back. A mysterious vigilant, who's true intentions are unknown. A world filled with wraith, magic, and monsters. A group of orphan spies, working towards the goal of restoring their queen. Tons of action. If you're a fan of fantasy, PICK THIS UP.
I've always loved the idea of secret identities. That's probably why I'm such a sucker for superhero movies, because secret identities! Protecting people! Yes, yes, and yes! This book was even better than one mere secret identity. We have Wilhelmina, Wil for short, who is the lone heir of Aecor, which was conquered by the Indigo Kingdom. Wil has every intention of taking it back, and to do so, she disguises herself as a lady from another country looking for protection and shelter in the Indigo Kingdom, all while spying and gaining intel on the enemy. But issue of wraiths continues to threaten the lands, whether Wil regains her throne or not, and Wil will have to find a way to stop it eventually, before it corrupts the lands and leaves her without a kingdom to regain.
Wil is a fantastic protagonist. She's working towards reclaiming her throne as Queen, and to do so, she isn't afraid to take risks and do what's right for her people, even if they don't know it's her yet. She is a generally good person, coming to the aid of strangers and friends. I also loved her character arc. In the beginning, Wil is a docile to-be-queen; she knows Patrick knows best, is the most experienced, and thus lets him lead the entire group to the quickest and most effective way to get her crown back. But as the story grows, Wil begins to form lines that she will not cross, like murder. She breaks free from what people think is best for her, learning to act on what she thinks is best for her people. How Wil gets her throne back is up to her, as it should be. I absolutely loved her morals and her conviction to protect her people, even as a ghostly figure. And as much as I love romance, Wil doesn't let romance control her life, knowing that her throne is more important.
Another thing I absolutely loved about Wil was her acting skills. Her ability to put on a mask, easily discarding it for another again and again. Numerous times Wil encounters something that threatens to break her facade, but she prevails through it, always thinking that though Wil thinks this, Lady Julianna thinks something else, and acts accordingly. Wil's own emotions have threatened to break her masks, but she plays her act spectacularly.
This book addresses a theme I know most people can relate to: different sides of us, presented to the world in different situations. Need to put your guard up? You're a different person. You're at job interview? Different person. At home? Different person. Hanging with not-that-close friends? Different person. We all have these masks, we all are different people for other people. This is addressed in the context of both Wil and Black Knife; both are completely different people at different times, depending on who is present. Wil is not just Princess Wilhelmina, future Queen, but also an Osprey (a member of a group who excels in stealth and spying), Lady Julianna (a traumatized duchess from the destroyed lands of Liadia), William Cole (a young solider), and a nameless girl who hunts those who do others wrong. As for the Black Knife, Wil likes Black Knife as his Black Knife persona; she has no idea who he is when he isn't Black Knife, no idea what kind of person he is. Another big question is addressed: if you're constantly wearing so many mask, then which one is the real you, and if that's not the mask you normally wear, then what? All points that are pondered with Wil and Black Knife.
The next topic: Ladies and gents, may I introduce to you my newest book boyfriend, Black Knife. *swoons* He is amazing. A-maz-ing. Mysterious? Check. Expert swordsman? Check. Questionable-revealed-to-be-nobel intentions? Check. Unknown identity? Check. Master at disappearing and reappearing like a shadow? Check. Keeping a secret? Check. Dangerous? Check check. You get the picture. And when his true identity is revealed... I loved him even more. Black Knife is a mysterious vigilant who patrols the streets undetected at night, helping people. He kills wraiths, stops thieves, saves people being attacked, stops those practicing magic (which is forbidden), and bounds and leaves gangs for the police to find. He's like Robin Hood, only more awesome and with a secret identity ;)
I really liked Patrick, in the sense that I don't like him. But I like his character, and I understand where he's coming from, and how he's motivated. Patrick it doing what's inherently best for Aecor, and he's taking the most direct route to regaining Wilhelmina's throne. But what he lacks is the ability to see both sides; everyone is either their enemy or their friends. There may be innocent citizens of the Indigo Kingdom, but to Patrick, they all are still the enemy. It's interesting to compare Patrick and what we know of his father, who was an abusive man, and who probably was the one who started the entire One-Night war. Patrick tries hard not to be his father, but we begin to see traces of his abusive father in Patrick as he tries to formulate a way to put Wilhelmina back on her throne, and the cut-throat tactics he's willing to use. I'm curious to know what becomes of him, since he has his heart in the right place, just very wrong actions...
And then...THAT ENDING. I can't. I can't even. Just... *whoosh as the air flies out of my lungs as I curl up into a ball of emotions and feels* HAS ANYONE READ THIS BOOK? DOES ANYONE KNOW WHAT A CLIFFHANGER ENDING LIKE THAT IS?
I absolutely cannot wait to read the second book, The Mirror King. Sadly, it comes out April 5th, 2016, which is in a while. Regardless, I shall be reading the 4 e-novellas while I'm waiting, and staring at the cover of it (it's SUPER PRETTY, which you can see for yourself)