The Orphan Queen- Jodi Meadows

Synopsis: 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 behaviour 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.

 

Violence

Throughout the book, there are fights with the Wraith and its monsters (Glowmen, abnormally large scorpion and cat. Etcetera.) Some fights are described, others are just mentioned. Will mostly aims to injure instead of kill. When asked to assassinate someone, she refuses, declaring she is not a murderer. She loses control once, attacking someone with a violin bow, but is stopped before actually killing the person. Several characters are shot, a character is slapped, and two characters find themselves in the position of holding a knife to the other’s throat. Wil is taken as a prisoner, and the guards handle her roughly, bruising her and linger too long when they search her. Someone is assassinated, described how, and the effects of the Wraith is described (Wil sees people held captive in amber Wraith.)

There are often mentions of war, armies and battles. The Ospreys plan how to retake their country, the Indigo kingdom plan how to stop the Wraith. Mentions of raids done by the Ospreys; report of some dying as a result. Several flashbacks to the One Night War, where some of the Ospreys saw their parents die and the other nobles slaughtered. Tobias had been kidnapped that night as well.

 

Romance

The dresses in the palace are described as cleavage-baring. There’s a scandal surrounding James’ birth, James is described as a flirt, and teases Wil about Tobias. Several dances throughout the novel. Black Knife pays quite a few compliments, and they kiss several times (described). Tobias is engaged to a character, who kisses him. When Wil finds out Black Knife is engaged, they resolve not to kiss again. It’s implied that Melanie spends nights with Patrick; Patrick wants Wil to marry him so that he’d be king (she refuses).  A character remarks that she spent the night with someone, who is referred to as a bedfellow. The wraith boy is naked.

 

Alcohol/Substance

Wraith mist and chemicals are taken as a drug; referred to as shine. Characters drink wine. Mentions of bar houses and drunks.

 

Authority

Magic is illegal, yet Wil uses it in ‘emergencies.’ The Ospreys steal to survive and to attain items to help them retake their kingdom. Characters infiltrate the palace with a stolen identity. Black Knife is a vigilante who subverts the law in pursuit of justice.

 

Language

The pinky finger is used as an insult; remarks of ‘oh saints!’

 

Religion

There are priests and beautiful cathedrals, mentions of the saints.

 

Overall feel: An interesting fantasy with magic, intrigue, betrayal, and action. Wil will do anything to get back her kingdom; except for kill. “I am not a murderer, and I wouldn’t just let someone die.” Her story is captivating, and Wil learns and struggles through many hard times and moral questions. The violence is not gory, and there’s humour found in unexpected places.

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