Review: The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows

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.

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The Orphan Queen is an intense book, driven with action from the first chapter. We follow Princess Wilhelmina as she embarks on a quest to retake her throne and avenge the deaths of her parents. On the way she struggles with personal haunts, making it difficult to get the job done cleanly.

It’s one of those books where I prefer the villains or shadier characters. Though Wil has good intentions, I feel she kept acting too fast. She’s brave and caring, but impulsive as well, which tended to make things precarious.

I enjoyed reading her tentative friendship with the vigilante Black Knife. Moments spent with him brought out a new side of Wilhelmina, where she had a mystery before her eyes that no one could solve for her. She’d found an equal who could counter her in battle, and no matter what, he wouldn’t reveal his name. For once, someone was just as secretive as her.

It’s a great fantasy novel, though the ending left me bristling (I can’t spoil why!) I’m eager for the next book. The Orphan Queen is set in a restless world, giving Wil a ton of responsibility for its fate; I’m interested in seeing how she’ll manage her responsibilities in harsher circumstances. I hope she can save her people and achieve victory!

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