The Orphan Queen (The Orphan Queen #1)FeaturedHot
Oh my stars is this a fantastic book. Jodi… Ms. Meadows. I heart you.
First off, The Orphan Queen opens with this dedication:
If you wear smiles like armor—
If you put on personalities like clothes—
If you can’t show the world all that you are—
This book is for you.
Wow. I knew I was in trouble. I was right.
The Orphan Queen is a tale of Wilhelmina “Wil” Korte, surviving princess of a conquered kingdom called Aecor. Her people, her family, were slaughtered when she was a child after refusing to sign an alliance banning the use of magic. Several other children survived and were put into orphanages in Skyvale, the kingdom that killed her family. But they all escaped into deserted lands to regroup, calling themselves Ospreys after a bird on their former kingdoms crest. For years, the Ospreys learned to fight, to steal (to feed themselves), and to impersonate others. They forged documents, they spied on their enemies, and they formulated plans to once again claim their homeland. When Wil is tasked with impersonating a dead girl of noble birth in order to gain access to Skyvale Castle and all its secrets, she knows she can do it. She has to do it to get her throne back.
But there’s more to her trip to Skyvale than she ever anticipated.
The Wraithland, lands consumed by the supposed by-product of magic use and its grotesque caricatures of life within its borders, is closing on Skyvale. Glowmen and wraith beasts hunt the streets and only the vigilante, Black Knife, is there to help those who can’t protect themselves. Patrick, Wil’s trusted advisor and general of the Ospreys, has ulterior motives for her trip to Skyvale and demands a price higher than Wil is willing to pay. Secrets are being kept from her by her best friend, and Black Knife becomes a trusted ally in the streets of Skyvale, Wil’s only departure from the noble mask she wears at the castle. As more and more secrets are revealed, Wil second-guesses whom she can trust and what the real threats are to her family’s kingdom. But to what lengths will she go to do the right thing?
I loved The Orphan Queen so much. It’s the perfect blend of a relatable young adult voice and beautiful fantasy. The pace never lingers, and I found myself skipping tedious things (like eating or sleeping) in order to get to the next chapter.
Wil is just the perfect embodiment of a strong female protagonist. Sure, she can kick some serious tail, but that’s not what makes her strong. It’s her drive to do the right thing. She is presented with some shortcuts or to merely ‘look the other way,’ but she doesn’t. Wil knows what’s right and wrong. She knows in order to be a good queen to her people, she must stand her ground and hold true to her ideals of right and wrong. And she does. Boy, she digs in her heels, and I love it. Do all of her decisions end rosy? Nope. But she’s seventeen, and maybe a little on the impulsive side. But she thinks of her people, her kingdom, first. When she learns the true fate of magic users, flashers, like her, she knows she must do what’s right, even if it goes against everything she knows her parents would have done.
Let’s take a quick second to talk romance. Holy buttered biscuits! As Wil spreads her wings through the night streets of Skyvale, she forms an unlikely partnership with the Black Knife. Their banter is engaging, their one-up-you-isms are hilarious, and I couldn’t get enough, even if I knew who Black Knife was very early on. And let me just say, being kissed through a mask has never been hotter!
The world building of The Orphan Queen is breathtaking. Full sensory overload! From the golden sun reflecting off the western mirrors of Skyvale, to the stench of Wraith, the musk and funk of the lower caste alleys, to the urine-soaked streets (so sorry CJ LOL), to the bountiful spreads of food at the castle, it was all there. I tested, I smelled, I felt, I heard, I saw every last detail of the Indigo Kingdom and her various lands. Jodi swept me away with her vivid descriptions.
I laughed, I cheered, I shook my fist, and I cried through Wil’s journey. In the end, I nearly threw the book, but in the OMG-how-DARE-she-end-it-that-way way. And it’s true. Ms. Meadows leaves you with the sweetest, most gut-wrenching cliffhanger that you may not forgive her. Who am I kidding? Of course you will. I’m practically frothing at the mouth for the second book.
In the end, The Orphan Queen is a superb book full of heart soaked to The Feels and loss that cuts to the bone. It’s about a girl searching for herself in a world stigmatized by the misunderstanding of those who are different, like her. Wil is stuck between what she’s known to be true and what truths she learns on her own. A battle in which many, many people can relate.
Incarnate was interesting, but I wasn’t entirely sure if it was my thing. After The Orphan Queen, I’m very much tempted to go back and try Meadows’ debut series again, because this book was so much fun. Then again, take a fantasy and add a kick butt heroine, balls, and some banter, and Christina’s generally going to be a happy camper. I thought I would like The Orphan Queen (that’s why I requested it), but I didn’t expect to like it this much.
Wilhelmina is awesome. She’s strong physically, thanks to years of training; you want her by your side if you’re battling glowmen. Wil’s also intelligent, incredibly caring, brave, and able to use magic to manipulate objects. Thankfully, Wil has flaws too, like the fact that she’s not much of a leader, even though she’s the orphaned queen of Aecor, which was taken over by the neighboring Indigo Kingdom. For all her intelligence, there also times when Wil goes on pure instinct, which can be a good or bad thing. Unlike most YA heroines, she also completely fails to notice eyes, and thus is unable to recognize a certain someone.
The Ospreys are the surviving royal orphans of Aecor, and they’re hiding out, waiting for their chance to reclaim their homeland. The queen would be the obvious choice to lead the group, but that lot falls to Patrick Lien, son of Aecor’s General. The power dynamics between Patrick and Wil were one of my favorite aspects of The Orphan Queen. They essentially represent two different philosophies of ruling, and I think it will be interesting to see what they believe by the end of the series. The little Ospreys don’t serve too much of a point in the series so far, other than allowing for some convenient infodumping as they need to be trained.
Hitting another favorite trope, Wilhelmina goes undercover as a survivor of the kingdom of Liadia, which was destroyed by Wraith (some icky evil stuff magic turns into – this is very hard to explain well, but I swear it makes sense when Jodi Meadows tells it). Throughout the course of the book, she also genderbends to go snooping around and it’s great. Undercover at the palace, she gets to go to balls and flirt with cute boys (heyyyyy James).
Meanwhile, at night, while she’s sneaking around the city planning how to reclaim her Queendom, she’s fighting and then flirting with Black Knife, this sexy young vigilante. YES PLEASE. They do excellent banter and also don’t always know if they want to kiss or kill each other. THIS WAY TO SHIP. Of course, later, there’s his identity, which I thought was predictable but still really interesting.
The world building really impressed me, since I’m a huge sucker for magic. I love the concept of the tangible wraith and it’s curious connection to magic. I’m looking forward to learning more about it in the later books. I will admit that I don’t really care that much about whether Wilhelmina gets Aecor back, but I super want to know about how the wraith will be resolved.
There were a couple of things that I found vaguely disquieting, and they’re all I can put my fingers on for what left me wanting. First, there’s this one really random scene where Undercover Wil is called to breakfast with King Terrell, and he sort of infodumps random things at her and sends her on her way. Why on earth would a king ever do this? Second and way more importantly, I’m currently not loving the development of the other female characters in the story. This is one of those cases where the other girls and women don’t seem to shine so that Wil can stand out more. I’d love to see more female characters standing out.
Cliffhanger alert, guys! Book two totally comes out the day after book one, right? No? CURSES. I NEEDS THE PRECIOUS. The Orphan Queen has some flaws, but also I loved it and desperately want more. Make of that what you will.
Jodi Meadows blew me away with her Newsoul trilogy (go pick it up, people!). I never thought she could've topped such a relatable heroine and unique setting, but she proved me wrong with THE ORPHAN QUEEN.
There are familiar fantasy elements here: dangerous magic, a princess looking to retake her kingdom, an enimagic masked vigilante, a ragtag crew of orphans. But all of these familiar elements blend together into a unique and compelling story set against a seemingly hopeless backdrop. Woven throughout the land is an encroaching magic that can't be stopped, but that certainly doesn't stem the political intrigue.
And then there's Wil's journey, which is one of self-discovery. She holds fast to her moral center; though the people she trusts pressure her to choose one course, she sticks to her what she knows is right in her heart. While keeping to her convictions, she struggles with the kind of leader she wants to be.
What Left Me Wanting More:
HOLY CLIFFHANGER. I actually gasped out loud when I read the last sentence, and then I yelled, "that can't be it!" I was torn between fury and an intense desire to build a time machine to jump forward to the sequel's release day.
The Final Verdict:
THE ORPHAN QUEEN is a delightful and engrossing fantasy tale filled with espionage, magic, and danger.
THE ORPHAN QUEEN is a compelling, action-packed fantasy adventure full of vigilante shenanigans, secret identities, palace intrigue, and magic that frankly terrified me once I realized what was going on. From the first page, the reader is thrust into the action, and the story remains relentlessly entertaining. There's something here for everyone--a well-constructed fantasy world complete with a rich, complex history and vivid settings, plotting, secrets, and politics for those who love Game of Thrones-esque adventures, a slow-moving romance that brings a hint of swoon to the pages, and through it all, a heroine who will capture readers and make them root for her success.
The heroine is one of the best parts of this novel. Her inner strength and convictions fuel every action she takes, and she remains true to her course even when others question her, when obstacles mount, and when the consequences of her actions make her wonder if her goal is worth the cost. Her narrative voice is unflinchingly honest and sometimes funny, and it invites the reader into her world.
The world is another strength in this story. Complex history, a fascinating mythology, and enough war and intrigue to keep any fantasy reader happy make this an enjoyable world to explore. The settings are well-imagined, and the reader will have no difficulty picturing each scene as it happens.
Finally, the mythology of magic in this story is very unique, and it makes THE ORPHAN QUEEN stand out as a fresh, compelling option for fantasy readers.
THE ORPHAN QUEEN is a relentlessly compelling fantasy adventure perfect for fans of the genre.
In the spirit of honesty, I would never have picked this book up for myself. The synopsis didn't excite me and, for me, there was just no real pull to the book, but I picked it up anyway because I knew a friend of mine would love it. I decided that it wouldn't hurt to buddy-read it with her and I am very glad I did. I enjoyed it far more than I had expected; I found it to be a good reminder that sometimes it is good to branch out and read something I normally wouldn't.
I really enjoyed the worldbuilding in this novel. I took me a couple of chapters to really understand the inner workings of the world and the various aspects of the magic. However, once I got that down I felt that it really hit the sweet spot, the world wasn't too complex nor did it leave me feeling like I needed more. It was actually quite straightforward for a fantasy novel which I found quite refreshing.
I really liked Wil, she was strong, fierce, and an amazing fighter. All things that make for a great main character, but what I liked most about her was her sense of morality and loyalty, not only to the nation she lost but also to her close-knit group of friends. Wil didn't always make great choices but she made them not while thinking about herself but about those she loved, which only made me love her all the more. Her loyalty made her seem more human and less that inhumanly perfect warrior queen that seems common in literature.
In fact, the only reason the book received four instead of five stars was due to the fact that I was able to call some of the plot twists. I felt that while I loved the journey, there were too many instances where the book had foreshadowing just felt too obvious and made it too easy to guess the plotline. This being said, it has a killer cliffhanger that I did not see coming and has left me jonesing to get my hand on the next book.
Taking Back A Throne Is Tricky Business
Through war and political maneuvering, Princess Wilhelmina's kingdom is taken over by the neighboring realm the Indigo Kingdom. Orphaned she is now throneless, but this heroine vows revenge and sets out to take back her kingdom. With the help of her Ospreys, other orphaned children of nobility who survived the slaughter that took her family away and destroyed her kingdom, Princess Wilhelmina 'Wil' sets off to infiltrate Skyvale Palaces. There she encounters dangerous foes, battles against monsters of magic known as Wraiths, and meets the handsome vigilante Black Knife. In a world where magic is forbidden, it may be the only thing Wil has left to stop the threat of Wraiths and regain her kingdom if it doesn't destroy everything first.
Princess Wilhelmina - An Uncommon Heroine Of Many Disguises
One of the strongest aspects of The Orphan Queen is its heroine. I loved her fierce devotion to her people and her desire to do right even in the face of danger. Meadows writes a heroine that has wonderful, admirable qualities and balances her out with a relatable protagonist who makes mistakes, letting the reader feel all her ups and downs. An expert at forgery, a hobby no ordinary princess would know but forced by circumstances, Wil has developed an amazing backbone of strength and resilience, along with some crafty spy techniques. Imagine a princess, orphaned and throneless, with the weight of her kingdom and its people o her shoulders - a princess who knows more about assuming identities and spying than she knows herself, and you begin to see how easy it is to admire her.
Indigo Kingdom - Fantasy And Magic Create Exciting Hints Of Danger
The Orphan Queen weaves in an easily consumed fantasy world filled with danger, magic, and creatures. Meadows gives the readers a wonderful feel for the world while keeping the amount of tension and danger at a delightful increase ensuring much rapid page turning and late night reading.
Everyone Enjoys A Swoony And Forbidden Romance
Romance, the slow-growing and forbidden kind, is always an instant attraction in my YA reads and The Orphan Queen has one for its readers to enjoy. I knew once Wil came into contact with the vigilante Black Knife that I was in store for some great chemistry. On opposing sides and wary of each other, I loved seeing a friendship and bond developed that had me crossing my fingers wanting more. I needed to know for sure who was behind the mask. I guessed early on but completely enjoy watching Wil's interaction with him before the big reveal.
The Ending - An Epic Cliffhanger
The Orphan Queen reaches a crescendo, lifting readers up into some major surprise twists and heart-rendering feels before we can close the last page looking immediately for the next installment. I enjoyed every moment, even that bittersweet and tortuous ending!
I adore Jodi Meadows' Incarnate series, so I was excited to find out that she was writing a fantasy! I am happy to say that this book exceeded my expectations!
Wil's parents, along with many other adults, were all killed in her country when she was a child. Now, ten years later, Wil and the other orphan have been living in poverty. It is now finally time for Wil to reclaim her country, and she starts by masquerading as a noble refugee.The threat of the wraiths is becoming more and more apparent, and Wil begins getting involved in an odd relationship with the vigilante Black Knife. Before long, Wil's spying days is becoming more and more dangerous and she can't figure out who to trust. Also, the threat of the wraiths is becoming more and more apparent.
This book was absolutely fantastic and I couldn't see anything in this book I dislike (except the end, but I'll get to that later). The entire world was crafted so brilliantly. At first glance, this seems like your basic fantasy world with different kingdoms and royalty, but the idea of wraiths was completely unique and very interesting. As for plot, I was worried that this would be another "I didn't know I was royal" book, but Wil knew she was royal, which made things so much more interesting. Also, I love it when there's the aspect of spying, where no one knows who you truly are. This was with no only Wil and her orphan friends, but the Black Knife as well. Don't even get me started on him!
Wil also really made the book, in fact, most of the book was all her. She's very strong, and she has to be. She's grown up in a harsh life, knowing the enemies that took her family, her country, and the life she should've had. Despite some of her doubts, I think that she would make a wonderful queen.
As for romance, there is some, though not enough to distract from any major plots. Also, the romance is fantastic and perfectly shippable!
Lastly, there's a cliffhanger and it's a doozy. So, be prepared to be destroyed.
And for a long wait...
Yeah, my review is a big gushing mess, but I LOVED this book! It's a perfect fantasy, with great characters and an engaging plot. Every fantasy fan needs to9 read this book!
While I'll be here, waiting for the next one...
This was my first experience with a Jodi Meadows book, and it was one I was high anticipating since I’d first heard of the synopsis. I’m glad to say I wasn’t disappointed. The lost princess from a fallen kingdom can be a popular trope in fantasy but there were so many elements added to the trope that I enjoyed that it didn’t matter to me. It was fast paced, which made for a very quick read, mostly because I didn’t want to put it down.
Wilhelmina was a very interesting character. She didn’t start off the book as a weak character who had to grow strong, as can be typical. She could fight, she was someone people in her group looked up to, and there were many glimpses of a great queen-to-be in her. That didn’t mean she didn’t have her insecurities or flaws. The fact that she wasn’t the Ospreys’ leader made her question her ability to lead. She could be rash, especially with magic use. Ultimately, I really liked her character.
The bond the group of Ospreys showed was something special. Connor was pretty adorable and hopefully the other Ospreys will get more time in later books. Melanie, Wil’s best friend, got the most time of the Ospreys since she accompanied Wil to the Skyvale palace. It was easy to see why they were so close. They could joke around and have fun then become serious in a second when it was time to work. I had my theory to why Melanie was behaving in such a way that seemed suspicious and though I was right, I liked that there were many options. It wasn’t completely clear. The other two character who got a lot of time were the prince, Tobiah, and his guard, James. I really liked them both. James was flirty and fun and caring. Tobiah was definitely more moody but he still had some great moments. Then there was the Black Knife. Wil kept running into the mysterious masked man who fought for justice. It was great to see their development go from enemies to not-so enemies to maybe allies. I did figure out who he was and I’m glad I was right.
The plot moved along quite quickly. It started off with a lot of action, the Ospreys on a heist, and it never really stopped. Even when there wasn’t action in the sense of a sword fight happening, there was action in other ways. Wil and Melanie trying to fit in at the palace and get the information needed, Melanie’s suspicious behavior, Black Knife interactions. There was always so much going on. There was never a time when I forgot just how high the stakes were for Wil. One slip and it could mean her freedom, her kingdom, and maybe her life.
The book set itself up nicely for the next one. There was a lot of mentions of the One-Day War that orphaned the Ospreys, the consequences of using magic, and even some prophecies about who will save the kingdom from the Wraith problem. And the ending….where is that next book?!