The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows is the book I’ve been waiting for. This is the epitome of Young Adult Fantasy. This book about a Queen is way better than all the recent books about queens. (*cough*Red Queen *cough*) I am in awe of this book and bow down to its awesomeness.
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.
I’m not sure how she did it, but Meadows created an elaborate fantasy world without infodumping and I felt like I understood the struggle of the main character Wilhelmina (part-time princess, part-time spy, full-time badass). I immediately identified with her and wanted her to kick some ass and take back her kingdom.
Once Wil succeeds in planting herself at the palace, things get complicated and amazing. I loved Wil’s drive and ambition but willingness to go with the punches, processing the pain of her past (and present) inwardly vulnerable, but outwardly stoic. She was such an awesome heroine. I loved her magic, and her inner turmoil on the use of said magic. She was also completely badass; at one point going off on her own through a dangerous land full of wraith to find answers.
My favorite part of this book (and why it worked where other fantasies have failed) is the relationship between Wil and Black Knife, the mysterious masked vigilante taking out magical beasts on the streets of the Indigo Kingdom. To me, it was fairly obvious who Black Knife really was but the possibility that it could’ve been someone else kept me at the edge of my seat. The bond between them grew as they fought adversaries in the black of the night. Their witty banter had me swooning and their first kiss scene was HOT! (This is Young Adult. You shouldn’t be able to make a kissing scene that good!)
The conflict in this book between good and evil, black and white, magic and non-magic grew into a spectrum of grey and I enjoyed watching Wil process and overcome her expectations and beliefs. The ending of this novel had me screaming for the sequel. I couldn’t read anything for days afterward because I couldn’t get over how good it was. If you like fantasy, heavy with romance and political intrigue, give this book a try.
The sequel, The Mirror King, will be released in March 2016.
STARS: 5 out of 5