The Orphan Queen by Jodi MeadowsThe Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows
Series: The Orphan Queen #1
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on March 10th 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 391

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.

3.5 Stars

The Orphan Queen doesn’t impress with the best execution, but this YA fantasy will surprise you with tons of action and a unique magic system.
If fantasy is your jam and you know your way around the genre, then this book will be rather underwhelming, but if you’re looking for a light, entertaining read, look no further.

Princess Wilhelmina of Aecor changes identities like underwear; she’s a thief, a magician, a duchess or a future queen, whoever she needs to be to achieve her goals. Wil is an enjoyable, though not memorable heroine, as she has wit, intelligence, badass combat skills, and morals. Though the weight she carries in her leadership position in her crew and as an inexperienced future queen weighs heavily on her. Since her kingdom, Aecor, was conquered by the Indigo kingdom, and Wils parents had been killed during the invasion, The Orphan Queen evolves around a heist, and I love these kind of quest-based stories. Wil and her crew of orphaned Aecor children attempt to get back their beloved homeland by infiltrating the royal palace and working their schemes from inside the enemy camp. A threat Wil is simultaneously confronted with as future queen of Aecor is the Wraith, bad and powerful magic that brings forth despicable creatures, spreading all over the kingdoms – and equal threat to everyone, friend and foe.

“Try to be polite.”
“I’m always polite.”
“You’re always eyeing people’s valuables. That’s hardly polite.”

The concept sounds intriguing and, to a certain extent, The Orphan Queen is a success, as it provides a high level of enjoyment. But is that enough? Unfortunately, Wil’s time in the palace is rather uneventful and consists mainly of balls, gossip tea parties, and staring down the crown prince of the enemy kingdom. But at night, when the palace falls quiet, Wil usually sneaks out of the palace, and that’s when things get bloody interesting. The longer she stays behind the walls of the palace, the more little seeds of distrust and rilvary sprout. She fights thugs and magical creatures, tails her friend due to doubted loyalty, and crosses paths with the mysterious Black Knife, an enemy but quickly an ally, more than once. Her unique magical ability is source for utmost entertainment, as she brings objects to life. 

Speaking of Black knife: Wil and Black Knife, they don’t like each other much, and continuously end up on the other side of the other one’s blade. Their interactions mainly involve threats, insults, and holding knives to each other’s throats to see who buckles first. Their common interest is maintaining the safety of the city. Though the romance is somewhat prectiable, I adored the chemistry those two had.  And with all the clichés Meadows operates, I was pretty relieved to discover the absensce of a love triangle. (Because for a moment there, I had been really, really worried).

Also, I’ll be sending Meadows my bills for the hairdresser BECAUSE THAT CLIFFHANGER LITERALLY MADE ME WANT TO PULL MY HAIR OUT. Meadows ends this book in the most agonizing way possible, but it’s a sure way to keep readers glued to her series, and that’s that.

Overall, The Orphan Queen is an enjoyable read, yet a little mainstream for a YA fantasy, and I couldn’t put it down. Though the book surprises with originality like a city of mirrors or the power to make objects come to life, it does, however, lack a certain spark that separates mediocre from amazing fantasy literature.