Katherine Tegen Books
March 10, 2015
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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 need to invent an award for Best Chemistry Even When Nothing Sexual is Happening (or When it Is) so that I can give it to The Orphan Queen. I love this book, the characters and the world Jodi Meadows has created.
What I love about a book that says, "for a century using magic has been forbidden/"? For it to be forbidden it has to be possible. You just know that - even with the wraith and all of the danger it and magic present - someone(s) is going to be doing some magic.
But not only is there (forbidden) magic, there's forgery, assumed identities, secret meetings, and, oh, the danger.
I really loved Wil and her desire to do what was right as Queen and protect the Ospreys, all while holding true to herself. I appreciated that she wasn't some gung-ho, the-ends-justify-the-means, ruthless leader. She had her limits and she was uncertain, sometimes, how to get things done within them - or if they should be.
The addition of the Black Knife was something I wasn't expecting. He was a bit like Robin Hood, though more secret and dealing with magical beings. (I want to say what the book's 'code name' was and how much I loved it - but that would be spoilery . . .so read the whole book.) With not only the palace and its inhabitants but also her Ospreys and then the Black Knife, watching her, Wil had a lot to keep secret and a lot to figure out.
The way that Wil's past - the overthrowing of their kingdom, the loss of her parents - was told in stages and pieces really worked well. Each part, as it's revealed, contributes to that part of the novel and to our understanding of the characters. The world building was done nicely, too. Rather than a big dumping of information, we learn more about the kingdoms, magic, the wraith and everything else as the story progresses and as WIl encounters or learns new things.
The way in which everything comes together - the characters, their roles, their relationships, the wraith, magic, lack of magic - is definitely rewarding, but leaves you incredibly eager (and anxious) for the next book. (no, seriously, can it be April, already?)
review copy received from publisher, thank you