For the rest of you who have read The Orphan Queen, hold on to your hats because Miss Jodi is about to throw you down an emotional landslide.
The Inundation went down, the people of Skyvale now know Wil’s true identity, they also know she’s a flasher, and she’s made part of the Wraith into a physical being. Not only that, but the soon-to-be-king, Tobiah, has been shot through the gut. The crud-o-meter is pretty much tapped out. So, things can only get better, right?
Wrong. So, so wrong.
I have loved Wil, or Princess Wilhelmina, since page one of The Orphan Queen. That love only grew throughout The Mirror King. She is feisty, opinionated, intelligent, independent, and can handle herself in a scuffle. Wil is also extremely loyal to those she holds dear. We don’t often get to see her softer side, but when we do, it’s a real treat. Her Ospreys mean the world to her, and she will do anything to keep them from harm, even if it means going against those she thought she could trust.
She is very human. In fact, my favorite (spoiler free) scene is where she needs to send a note to the people of Aecor, explaining the situation of her stay in Skyvale. James tells her to use her own handwriting. Well, Wil has spent years perfecting the handwriting of others to forge documents. She’s never used her own, so she freezes, not sure what to so. Wil has a mini breakdown, staring at a blank page, stressing over the fact she doesn’t have her own handwriting. Beautifully human.
Though The Orphan Queen and The Mirror King are only told through Wil’s point of view, I love how we get to know Prince Tobiah through her. Her heavy opinions on her feelings toward Prince Tobiah and Black Knife, though they are the same person, are so wonderfully opposite you just know it will come back to get her. We get to see Tobiah grow as a person, and then as king of the people of the Indigo Kingdom.
Speaking of the Indigo Kingdom, the world building of The Mirror King is just as stunning as book one. While Wil travelled through sub-zero temps to get to Aecor and waded through hip-high snow, I felt the sting of frost as it soaked into Wil’s inadequate skirts. Oh my!
The pacing was a tad odd for me, though. The beginning felt fast and riddled with tension as Tobiah’s survival and subsequent role as king were in danger. The same can be said for the last several chapters. I ate those pages up trying to not skip ahead to see what would happen. The middle, however, felt long-winded and sort of kitchen sink-ish. As if Miss Meadows fought with Wil on each page to make her open her eyes, so threw everything at her she could possibly get on the page. Perhaps this is because Wil is ridiculously stubborn. She has an inability to see the lesson, even when it slaps her in the face. There were several trials for Wil’s journey, nearly all of them ending not in her favor, so it seemed a little overdone. But, again, Will is willful *grin*. When the pieces finally fall into place and she sees the error of her ways, the pace charges ahead until you reach the last word, gasping for air while reaching for the nearest binge-worthy snack food because of The Feelings. As in ALL of them. You've been warned.
Miss Meadows has a knack for intelligent, witty characters. The banter between Wil and Tobiah, the Ospreys, and with vigilant James and Mel are such a joy to read. They are easy to know and love, and they mature in such a way you forget they are teenagers. Their loses are yours. Their triumphs as well. The bonds are felt deep inside with every snap and thump to the chest in salute. It’s what makes exceptional writing.
The Mirror King is a gorgeously written conclusion to a sweeping fantasy full of honorable thieves, monstrous humans, healing destruction, and a boy and girl fighting to save what’s left of their people. It will pull you in, fill you with grief, joy, elation, and the incredible need to paint a black knife upon your sleeve.