The Orphan Queen (The Orphan Queen #1)
by Jodi Meadows
published by Katherine Tegen Books
Genre: YA, Fantasy,
Summary (Goodreads): 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
My Thoughts: I've said it before but, I'm always happy when a book lives up to the hype. Too often I find that I don't love some books as much as everyone else seems to. I really enjoyed this one. It grabbed and held on to my attention right from the start and didn't let go until the end. That doesn't mean it didn't have it problems but they were not enough to pull me out of the book (it did make it hard to put into words without spoiling the story).
The world that Jodi Meadows created was an interesting one. The landscape is slowly being taken over by the wraith. Taking out whole kingdoms on its westward path. I also liked that the magical by product had its own characteristics, like being harmed by sunlight/mirrors. This made it another character in the story.
The characters were, at times, basic fantasy types but still worked. The Ospreys are a dwindling group of orphans that were removed from their kingdom when it was taken over during the One Night War. I did have problems with some of Wil's personality. For someone who is the "queen" she didn't seem to have much control. We find out very early that Patrick is in control and Wil goes along with the group even when she knows it is the wrong choice. This does create many problems during the story. Wil's faith in Melanie, even at the end, didn't make a lot of sense either. With everything that takes place there should have been some concern on Wil's part not faith that Melanie would let her know what was happening.
On the other side is Tobiah, his cousin James, and the royal court, along with the vigilante Black Knife. James was my favorite of this group. You could tell that he loved his life but was also took his responsibilities seriously. Tobiah, on the other hand, seemed very sullen and always wanted to be somewhere other than where he was. It was obvious from the start that one of these two were going to be Black Knife and it took away from the reveal when it happened. The relationship between Wil and Black Knife could have been interesting but fell short, especially when you find out who it is.
Overall, I enjoyed this story, I just wish it had been a little tighter in some areas. Wil was a strong lead character until you put her in front of the group she was supposed to be leading. Tobiah became stronger and more likable as you found out about him but his choices to end the story didn't feel like they would all stick. Even with that I have to know what happens to these characters and the land being overrun by the wraith.