by Jodi Meadows
Read: December 14 - 18, 2014
Published: March 10, 2015 by Katherine Tegen Books *TOMORROW*
Source: Borrowed from Andi @ Andi's ABCS (THANK YOU!!)
Category: YA Fantasy, queens, masked vigilantes
Series: The Orphan Queen #1 (Duet + 4 prequel novellas)
Find: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
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.
The Orphan Queen is the first book in a new fantasy duet from Jodi Meadows, and from the start I fell hard for Wilhelmina. She has to be many things at all times - princess, spy, forger, caretaker, soldier, thief, friend. Some roles she wears with pride, and others she takes on for the survival of herself and her captured kingdom. I can't imagine juggling all the plates she does or being as adaptable all the time. But Wil is a doer who will not rest in her mission to rescue her people, including nearly traveling into hell for them. She has magic inside of her, which fills her with both power and fear - because it might be the key to saving her people by stopping the wraith that plague the land, or instead, it could be what destroys everything. I can't imagine making all the decisions Wil has to make, or being all the people she has to become, but she keeps pushing forward despite it all. Wil inspired me throughout this entire book.
Wil must infiltrate the palace of the rival Indigo Kingdom, pretending to be a visiting noble from a land that has been overtaken by wraith. She has a very specific mission in the palace, and to complete it, she assimilates herself into the royal society. Wil is good at acting and does this well. Despite the importance of this mission, Wil can't help but shed her fancy dresses and sneak out the palace at night wearing all black and armed with her knives. This is one of Wil's most secret roles and one she takes on because it's something she enjoys, not because it is part of her mission. Although I think Wil tries to be true to herself in whatever role she is assuming, this is in many ways when she is most at peace. It is also when we are able to see more clearly the person Wil really is, including her fierce heart for her country and for anyone unable to defend themselves. I loved her even more for that.
It is at night that Wilhelmina encounters Black Knife, vigilante and magic hater. Wil is both intrigued and repelled by this masked character, and I couldn't wait to learn more about him. Their relationship starts off antagonistically, but it slowly builds into a bond of trust - in each other's work - and camaraderie. Then it changes again into maybe something more. But there's also complications in their relationship that stop them from getting too close. Namely the fact that readers know Black Knife is someone else in his real life, though he's not saying who he is. Although Black Knife intrigued me, he is a character that I didn't felt like I could fully grasp. I ended this book more in love with Wil than him, but still desperate for more. I'm excited that we get the opportunity to know him better in four upcoming novellas.
This story has a very slow building romance that had me equally cheering for and worried about, because of the different identities each person wears. I could see the perfection of them together, and clearly understand their connection, but I also got why it was a very bad idea for them to get involved. But oh how I want it to work out!
One of my favorite aspects of this story is the way it examines identity. Many characters have several identities, but not many know all of each person's different identities. This made things interesting, because some characters know more than others realize, and it affects their interactions in different settings. But which identity is the real mask and which is the true self, and can each person's multiple selves find peace with each other? I had a great time puzzling this all out and examining different scenes based on what I knew characters knew about each other. Have I confused you yet?
This book ends on a pretty terrifying cliffhanger, and I have many questions about a lot of things, especially about wraiths and Wil's magic, and how everything will work out in the end for everyone!! But this was a fantastic first installment, and I cannot wait for the second book in the duet. Even sooner, I can't wait for Black Knife's novellas, the first of which releases in June.
Love Triangle Factor: None/it's complicated. (highlight for more information>> This is a tricky one. There are some extenuating circumstances that affect the romance that make it not an easy situation. But it's not a feelings triangle. Although Wil has a lot going on that isn't her love life, she is clear about who she wants and doesn't waver. << end spoiler)
Cliffhanger Scale: High
Tomorrow, I'l be revealing a little bit more about Black Knife as part of The Orphan Queen blog tour, and giving away a copy of the book. Make sure you stop by again!