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.
One of the most compelling fantasies I’ve ever read. Fans of strong heroines, secret identities, and terrifyingly dangerous magic should put Jodi Meadows at the top of their ‘to read’ lists.
—C.J. Redwine, author of the Defiance trilogy
THE ORPHAN QUEEN casts its spell from the first page. Exquisite, captivating and romantic —Jodi Meadows’s world forbids magic, but THE ORPHAN QUEEN is brimming with it. I loved this book!
—Danielle Paige, New York Times bestselling author of Dorothy Must Die
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—Wilhelmina—more frequently known as Wil—is a princess. However, she’s a royal who’s more used to stealing food than curtsying in a palace. Wil’s homeland of Aecor was conquered 10 years earlier by the Indigo Kingdom and Wil and a band of other orphaned children of Aecor nobility have been living secretly as refugees in Skyvale, the capital of the Indigo Kingdom. The teen and the other refugees have plans to take back their home by infiltrating the palace. As Wilhelmina’s mission inside the palace proceeds, it is complicated not just by her secret ability to practice magic—which has been forbidden for almost a century—but also by her connection to the vigilante Black Knife, a masked figure who helps the poor and the weak in the streets of Skyvale. Fans of Katniss and the Sisters of St. Mortain from Robin LaFevers’s “His Fair Assassin” series (Houghton Harcourt) and other strong, vengeful female heroines will root for Wil, as she plots revolution, struggles with her conflicted feelings for Black Knife, and discovers more about wraith, the toxic by-product of magic. Although this series opener starts off with poorly executed exposition to provide the necessary background, the plot quickly picks up pace, and the highlights of this novel are the subtle lessons in the sacrifices and responsibilities of leadership, as well as the unique way in which magic use and wraith are echoes of our own world’s debate about environmental justice.
—Evelyn Khoo Schwartz, Georgetown Day School, Washington, DC
Hidden identities, allusions to environmental concerns, a clever heroine with a worthy potential love interest, and some monster-mashing fight scenes elevate this romantic series opener. A cliff-hanger ending will have many readers exclaiming aloud their impatience at having to wait for the sequel.
First in a fantasy duology, this tale of a young royal fighting to retake her country from invaders intertwines espionage, secret identities, a debate on the ethics of violence, and the threat of Wraith, a supernatural force that seeks to overwhelm conquered and conquerors alike. A hypercompetent fighter, forger, and spy, 17-year-old Wil keeps her magical abilities secret, since magic has been banned as the cause of the relentless wave of Wraith that has destroyed neighboring kingdoms, turning harmless animals into devouring monsters and perverting nature wherever it spreads. Wil’s more mundane transgressions of the Indigo Kingdom’s law are enough to attract the attention of a mysterious vigilante, Black Knife. Wil increasingly finds herself disagreeing with her own leader, the ruthless Patrick, and coming to trust Black Knife. Though Black Knife’s identity proves unsurprising, along with the outcomes of Wil’s interpersonal relationships, Meadows (the Incarnate trilogy) delivers a powerful coming-of-age story as Wil discovers that there are “lines [she] will not cross, not even to take the vermillion throne.” A cliffhanger sets up the concluding volume. Ages 13–up.
A displaced teenage queen acts as a thief, spy and vigilante while plotting to reclaim her throne.
The One-Night War stole the lives of Princess Wilhelmina Korte’s parents and her kingdom, Aecor. Ten years later, in Skyvale, capital of the conquering Indigo Kingdom, Wil and her band of ragamuffin teens, the Ospreys, are attacked by glowmen—humans corrupted by wraith, the noxious supposed residue of magic, which is forbidden—and survive only with the help of vigilante Black Knife. Patrick, leader of the Ospreys, sends Wil and her friend Melanie to the Skyvale Palace as spies. There, Wil has an understandable but frustratingly difficult time controlling her anger—especially toward ailing King Terrell and aloof Prince Tobiah—even under threat of exposure. Wil reconnects with Black Knife—known for targeting thieves and magic users—and a bond slowly builds, despite Wil’s magical abilities. Some may guess Black Knife’s identity, but that doesn’t diminish the intensity of the inevitable kissing scene. What’s not so obvious is the connection between Wil’s magic and the encroaching wraith; readers will have to wait for that. The story is not perfect. It’s pushing credulity that Patrick, so young himself, trained the Ospreys so well, and problems sometimes resolve rather simply. Still, solid worldbuilding, interesting characters and just enough romance make this an enjoyable read.
Despite what’s possibly the most agonizing cliffhanger since Catching Fire, genre fans will find it worth their time. (Fantasy. 14 & up)