The Mirror King by Jodi MeadowsThe Mirror King by Jodi Meadows
Series: The Orphan Queen #2
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on April 5th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 531

Wilhelmina has a hundred enemies.

HER FRIENDS HAVE TURNED. After her identity is revealed during the Inundation, Princess Wilhelmina is kept prisoner by the Indigo Kingdom, with the Ospreys lost somewhere in the devastated city. When the Ospreys’ leader emerges at the worst possible moment, leaving Wil’s biggest ally on his deathbed, she must become Black Knife to set things right.

HER MAGIC IS UNCONTROLLABLE. Wil’s power is to animate, not to give true life, but in the wraithland she commanded a cloud of wraith mist to save herself, and later ordered it solid. Now there is a living boy made of wraith—destructive and deadly, and willing to do anything for her.

HER HEART IS TORN. Though she’s ready for her crown, declaring herself queen means war. Caught between what she wants and what is right, Wilhelmina realizes the throne might not even matter. Everyone thought the wraith was years off, but already it’s destroying Indigo Kingdom villages. If she can’t protect both kingdoms, soon there won’t be a land to rule.

In this stunning conclusion to THE ORPHAN QUEEN, Jodi Meadows follows Wilhelmina’s breathtaking and brave journey from orphaned criminal on the streets to magic-wielding queen.

3 Stars

The Mirror King kept me entertained, as was to be expected since its predecessor had already succeded in that department. But as the sequel to The Orphan Queen, this book was a disappointment. The second instalment failed to meet my expectations regarding improved world-building and a dramatic finale.

This review contains spoilers for The Orphan Queen. Proceed at your own risk.

✎ Wilhelmina Korte as a heroine had worked for me in The Orphan Queen. So, I was eager to witness her growth in the role of a queen-to-be after the revelations of the previous instalment. Her development is accompanied by a lot of struggles and doubts, which undoubtedly makes her very relatable. I cannot say she’s the most charismatic heroine I’ve ever encountered but she’s not a cardboard character either. The weight of her birthright is heavy on her shoulders, with enemies awaiting her around every corner.

“I don’t flee. I evade.”

✎ Among her struggles was also her brittle relationship ties with Prince Tobiah. I was constantly fearing for their romance as the couple faced one obstacle after the other. For one thing, Tobiah got engaged in the previous instalment which does make for a pretty hard blow to the heart. Meadows definitely doesn’t spare those two lovebirds and had me fearing for the HEA throughout the read. (Damn you, Jodi!)

“Maybe my descendants will make better choices where I failed.”
“Your descendants? Are you planning on having a lot of descendants?”
“One day I’d like a whole army of tiny vigilantes.”
“A worthy goal.”

Tobiah’s list at the end of the book made my heart skip a beat.

✎ I enjoyed James in The Orphan Queen but he wasn’t memorable, something that took a turn for the better in The Mirror King. I loved the blossoming friendship and loyalty between Wil and James. He was the perfect sidekick, added to the remaining group of Ospreys.

✎ Patrick and Prince Colin as the antagonists were interesting, especially the former. While the Prince, who governs Aecor under Indigo rule, is merely an old, frustrated royal, Patrick makes for a very interesting experience. For me, Patrick is definitely an anti-hero. His character cannot be categorized as good nor evil but falls somewhere inbetween, having noble goals at heart but despicable means to obtain them.

The pacing was even and the writing was serviceable. The easy-going narrative was the perfect material for my stressed, overworked brain (courtesy to the university!). While Meadows uses descriptions sparingly (which does have a downside, of course), her prose is the opposite of convoluted and the flow is never interrupted.

✄ After The Orphan Queen, I hoped for some improvement where the world-building was concerned, especially when I realized the storyline was taking me back to Aecor in the second half of the book. Sadly, Meadows does not expand the world-building – I cannot tell you what the fundamental differences between Aecor and the Indigo kingdom are. There are no lush descriptions, no culture, no folklore, and no atmosphere. With regard to the construction of a low fantasy realm, I expected more.

The ending was anti-climatic. There’s no other way to describe it. Sure, there is ache and sacrifice. Sure, there’s a battle but we don’t actually get to see a whole lot of it. And yes, there are villains but they are easily disposed of, which is never satisfying in a book, especially a fantasy. Where the lead characters are concerned, the ending is satisfying but I want my heroes and heroines to struggle, to grow, and to fight. As I said, sacrifices are made, so the victory doesn’t just fall into their laps, but the plot held potential for so much more. Which is actually something that goes for The Mirror King‘s plot in general.

The Mirror King is an enjoyable read, its potential not fully tapped into. A worthy heroine is surrounded by mediocre world-building and a washed down ending. Considering my disappointment, 3 stars may seem a bit generous, but I cannot wholeheartedly discredit the book. The content isn’t bad, it just doesn’t shine among other YA fantasies. Would I recommend this series? If you’re looking for a light YA fantasy which plays with some clichés but juggles with interesting ideas, then yes. I certainly don’t regret starting the series in the first place but my expectations for the sequel were not met.