Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Orphan Queen - Jodi Meadows

The Orphan Queen book cover
The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows
Series: The Orphan Queen #1
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: March 10, 2015
Source/Format: Publisher (Thanks!) || ARC
[I received this book from the publisher. This in no way affects the contents of my review.]

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.

When Jodi Meadows announced she was releasing the first of a new fantasy series, The Orphan Queen, last year, it was no surprise that I was overjoyed. As a big fan and book pusher of Jodi’s debut Newsoul series, there was no question that I wanted to get my hands on this story! When an early copy made its way into my hands, I tore through it immediately – and then waited a month or two before doing a reread. 

If I were going to sum up my feelings about The Orphan Queen, it would be like this: 

OH. MY. GOODNESS.

But obviously, I won’t leave y’all hanging like that. So, here’s a bit more detail on what I thought of The Orphan Queen:

Part I: The Parade of Players

Well-portrayed characters are an essential element of a great story. If there’s one thing I can count on Jodi to do, it’s to create an entire cast of characters for me to love or hate, depending on the character in question. There are many characters introduced in The Orphan Queen, but here’s a quick breakdown of some of the main players
  • Wilhelmina Korte: She’s the princess of the lost kingdom of Aecor, a rebel and spy who operates as part of the Ospreys, a girl too young to take on so many difficult endeavors and capable of wielding magic. Because of her multiple identities, we experience a lot! We are witness to the secret planning sessions, but also see court affairs, the corruption of the Indigo Kingdom and the pursuit of the truth about magic. Wil is easy to like, because she’s clever, capable and determined to fight for her kingdom. She’s always in the thick of things, unwilling to let others fight her battles for her. I really liked seeing how conflicted she could be about what was right or wrong, what was truth or a lie, because it felt like a real struggle that any person – teenage princess and heir or not – would go through too.
  • The Ospreys: This is the group of rebels, all that remains of Aecor’s nobility, and mostly children at that. They’re led by Patrick Lien, the son of the former general of Aecor, whose ultimate goal is to help Wil regain her throne and her kingdom – whatever means necessary. The dynamics between the members of the Ospreys are real interesting as there are usually different opinions on how to handle certain situations.
  • Tobiah: He’s the crown prince and heir of the Indigo Kingdom, which means he’s got a whole lot of responsibility to deal with. He heads up the committee that studies wraith and how to fight them, for instance. Tobiah gives off the distant, aloof vibe of someone who feels superior, often quiet and just on the edge of civil during social gatherings. However, he also often demonstrates kindness, compassion and loyalty when a situation calls for it.
  • Black Knife: He’s a masked vigilante, who appears to have made it his mission to rid the city of wraith and magic users (also called flashers). While he appears to have good intentions for those without magic, it’s still questionable to think about what does happen to the magic users he happens to capture. Still, he’s got a full range of fighting skills and there’s just something so appealing about a masked renegade trying to make the world a better (in his eyes) place.

Part II: A Spectacle of a Story

The Orphan Queen tells a story with multiple plots threads. While this could potentially be a mess, I’m of the opinion that Jodi masterfully wove them all together to create an incredible story tapestry.Each word contributes to the weaving of this incredible tale. There’s magic, mayhem and magical mayhem; there is enmity, friendship and romance; there are secrets and lies, truths and reveals. It’s a concoction of major proportions, and it goes down so smooth for the reader.

Part III: Emotions on Exhibit

If there’s one thing the Newsoul series taught me, it’s that Jodi isn’t afraid of putting her characters in difficult situations. She stays true to the story, no matter what sort of high emotions it’ll provoke in the reader. While I was reading The Orphan Queen, I felt happy, sad, angry, fearful, restless, content, tense… Let’s just say that I was emotionally wrung out (in the best way) by the time I hit that (very emotionally volatile) ending. 

Part IV: The Telling of Truths

There are additional specific things that I feel should be mentioned about The Orphan Queen. Here are the truths I can give you about my reaction to the book, shared rather haphazardly and instinctively:
  • It starts off a bit slow. But that’s only because Jodi has to set the stage and players for this story properly before it commences, and I’d say it’s totally worth it.
  • It has less action than you’d think. While there are some great fight scenes described, and some really scary stand-offs too, this story actually has a heavier focus on Wil learning about herself, her capabilities, her loyalties and the truth about magic and wraith. 
  • The magical aspect was easy to understand and a curiosity. It’s fairly simple to note that there is magic and that it grants the person with one special ability. What is really going to be interesting is seeing how this wraith problem will be dealt with, whether it’ll be defeated with or without magic. Oh, and finding out what will happen to the people who do possess magical abilities too!
  • I loved the friendships. There are some great friendships portrayed here, both established and new. There’s even a point where friendships and loyalties wind up being tested too. Jodi paints these friendships in a real light, and I enjoyed them tremendously!
  • I loved the romance. Oh yes, of course, there is most definitely a romance here! Jodi writes another swoony first kiss scene, which is her specialty. But she approaches the romance in a decidedly different way than in her first series, and I appreciated that. And may or may not have swooned a lot over it too.

Part V: A Reader’s Recommendation

All in all, it’s pretty safe to say that The Orphan Queen has cemented a place for itself among my favorites! (And I’m totally not surprised because it’s Jodi, and I love her stories.) Once again, Jodi has woven a captivating tale riddled with characters that I adore and a plot that had me gasping, yelping, tearing up, yelling… Well, you get the picture. Any book that inspires such a strong emotional response from me? It’s totally worth the read. So, this is my official recommendation for The Orphan Queen – YOU should read it, whether you’re a fantasy newbie or veteran! 

(And then, when you’re done, you can join me in waiting (not so) patiently for the sequel. If you’re suffering from a hangover, might I suggest checking out Jodi’s first series the Newsoul trilogy composed of Incarnate, Asunder and Infinite? That series is amaaaaazing.)

4 comments:

  1. FIVE MORE DAYS AND THEN IT IS MINE! Fantastic review - as if I wasn't excited enough already :P

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  2. I have seen people freaking out about this book for months! So glad that release day is soon.....

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  3. Candice @ The Grown-Up YAMarch 5, 2015 at 5:39 PM

    Must. Buy. Now! I'm so excited for this one it's not even funny! Glad it lived up to all your expectations and more! Can't wait to get my grabby hands on it! :)

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  4. I'm so excited about this book!! And slightly jealous that you already got to read it, but also REALLY glad you loved it, because OMG I JUST NEED IT NOWWWWW!!

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