Review: The Orphan Queen (The Orphan Queen #1) by Jodi Meadows

Published: March 10th 2015 by Katherine Tegen Books
 Rating: 4 out of 5


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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.


I read this book ages ago and never got around to review it. I've recently started reading the prequel novellas to this series so I'm finally adding this review!

I do love stories about lost princesses. I think that's what drew me to Jodi Meadows Orphan Queen to begin with. I read her Incarnate series and wasn't that keen on it but this duology has an incredible story attached to its scenery. I read an article Jodi wrote about worldbuilding and that's something that strikes you with this book. The building is very well thought out right down to every characters antics and how to spot a thief!

Wilhelmina (I'm English so I'm pronouncing this Wil-er-mina) takes orders from Patrick. He's the leader of the Ospreys, a small group of noble children now orphans. Wil has always followed Patrick's lead. not only is he the oldest but he's also the son of General Lien, the head of the Aecor Army before the Kingdom was invaded. Naturally, he's a good leader, having taken cues from his father, but he's also collected a series of not so good antics from dear deceased Dad.

Wil follows the plan set down by Patrick. Her and Mel will infiltrate Skyvale Palace impersonating a Duchess and her companion. Thanks to Wil's exceptional forgery skills they get taken in by the Palace household using the right papers and are treated as per their assumed rank. They perform for their noble peers, acting their parts to perfection. They also have to send reports at the dead of night to a dead drop. Mel takes on this task but soon Wil notices she doesn't return until dawn. One night she follows Mel and meets an unexpected ally. Black Knife is notorious. He fights the users (shiners) of magic, and attacks the wild wraith beasts that appear in the city. He's a hero in everyone's eyes, except his vigilante status means he has to work in the dark, where no one can see him. He follows Wil one night. She's following Mel. It makes for an unlikely alliance but one advantageous to Wil and outside of Patrick's control. Black Knife and Wil are drawn to one another but she never sees his face. Who can he be?

Meanwhile, at the palace Wil becomes good friends with Crown Prince Tobiah's bodyguard, James. He's nice and funny and always makes her feel at ease. So different from the sullen, bored demeanour of the Crown Prince. It's a shame for Wil because she remembers him as a little boy when General Lien kidnapped him. At seven years old she freed him only to realise her home and Kingdom were being destroyed. He stayed with her and offered her comfort but from that day on she's always wondered what he would be like now. Nothing like the arrogant boy he's turned out to be.

Magic is forbidden in the Indigo Kingdom. A Wraith Alliance was forged with neighbouring kingdoms once it was agreed that used magic created the wraith in the first place. Wil manages to get onto a committee at the palace to learn more but unfortunately she's kicked off soon after because the men believe it upsets her. What she doesn't agree with is that some of the men fob her off when she asks the most important questions like, What's at the lake in Liadia? Why will no one tell her the truth? Do they even know what they're fighting?

Wil takes matters into her own hands and discovers she may be at the heart of the whole problem.

So, lots of worldbuilding. That's one of things I enjoy most about YA Fantasy. Some authors get it absolutely dead on. There are a few little things about Orphan Queen that I didn't like. Firstly, the names. Why go to all the trouble and then call your characters Clint, Eric and other (mainly American) names. They're almost out of place.
Secondly, throughout the book, Wil's narrative consists of action/reaction. So much that it was almost overkill. Yes, her Kingdom and it's people are suffering which is why she's doing what she does but she repeats the horrors and hardship again and again after every sentence. Thirdly was the synopsis - 'Wilhelmina has a hundred identities.' She doesn't. I think this was misleading. She can forge anyone's handwriting once she's seen it but only assumes three identities in the story.

At the heart of this story is her relationship with the mysterious vigilante Black Knife. Their interaction was one of the best parts of the story. I was surprised when he revealed himself and sad with the aftermath. Wil proves she's a capable warrior and Queen. And the book ends with a cliffhanger. Brilliant!

This was a clever and vivid start. It's a shame it's only a duology but there are the prequels too so hopefully we shall learn more about Black Knife and his past.



About the Author
Jodi Meadows wants to be a ferret when she grows up and she has no self-control when it comes to yarn, ink, or outer space. Still, she manages to write books. She is the author of the INCARNATE Trilogy, the ORPHAN QUEEN Duology, and the FALLEN ISLES Trilogy (HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen), and a coauthor of MY LADY JANE (HarperTeen).

You can find Jodi Meadows here:

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