The Orphan Queen (The Orphan Queen #1)
Author: Jodi Meadows
Genre: High Fantasy
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. --Summary from Goodreads
I have so much love for this book I barely know where to begin. It was fun and entertaining as well as being suspenseful and shocking. The last quarter of the book kept me breathless as I waited on the edge of my seat to see what was going to happen next. I didn't finish until 2am and it was one of the most intense cliffhangers I’ve read in a while. I would have screamed but everyone in the house was already long asleep and wouldn’t think a book cliffhanger a sufficient reason for being woken up in the middle of the night.
I just loved Wilhelmina (princesses are so awesome). Her loyalty and protectiveness of her friends and her amazing skills as a thief and spy are things I love seeing in a main character. It makes things very interesting. Watching her struggle with what she grew up believing and everything she learned on her latest mission was just as confusing and heart clenching for me as I believe it was for her. Meadow’s writes a character who’s strong yet at the same time very vulnerable. Wil is supposed to lead her people someday but she is still learning what she believes, what she is willing to do to reach her goals, what lines she is unwilling to cross. Taking a stance for those beliefs are a lot harder when you have people in your own small rebel group who disagree. Especially when Wil isn't exactly their official leader.
Can I just say how much I adored the vigilante, Black Knife? I know I’m not the only one. He was beyond dreamy and I basically swooned every time he was on the page. In other words, I was a complete fangirl. I love the relationship between him and Wil. They start out as enemies but then a tentative friendship grows between them as they start to fight together instead of against one another. This is my favorite type of character relationships in genre fiction: the characters are on equal ground, possess fairly equal skills, and they begin to work together, eventually becoming an amazing team. They force each other to look at things in different ways and they become the better for it. Thankfully we do find out who Black Knife is by the end because I would have screamed if I had to wait.
There was also a creepy element to this book in the form of the wraith. It is a toxin quickly taking over the land kingdom by kingdom and there is a belief that any magic use will bring it down on the people quicker. We get a glimpse of what the wraith is like in full power and it sent a chill up my spine (which doesn’t happen a lot). Because of the danger to the kingdom, Black Knife had been catching magic users and turning them over to the law and these people, called flashers, disappear forever. Wil is terrified of becoming one of these people and tries hard to keep her own magic a secret, even from her own friends. By the end, something new develops with the wraith that throws everything out of whack and I can’t wait to see how Meadows deals with it in the next book.
This book turned out to be a lot different than I thought it would be when I started it and I love it for that. I am crazy anticipating the conclusion to this awesome duology and will probably reread it once or twice until then. If you love princesses and vigilantes and magic you can’t miss The Orphan Queen. It has got it all and you’ll be fangirling for days and bugging your friends to read it too so you can have someone to fangirl with. Like I’m going to do with Christina (Mwahahahaha).