Just finished up the Orphan Queen this rainy afternoon, and although it took me a bit longer to finish than usual, I enjoyed it! Right off the bat, I’m going to admit that this book reminded me a lot of aspects of Batman, which might be one of the reasons that I enjoyed it so much.
We follow the story of Wilhelmenia Korte, the rightful Queen of Aecor, a kingdom that’s been overtaken by a new royal family. Wil’s entire life has consisted of building up to a point where she can rebel against the new imperials and take back her throne. She does this with the help of these other orphan children, the Ospreys, who are the remnants of her own kingdom’s now-dead aristocracy.
So there were several things that I really enjoyed about this book; one is that Wil is a really strong female protagonist. She’s full of this hope for the future, and she’s hellbent on getting her throne back and avenging her murdered parents by destroying the monarchy… but slowly starts changing, not because she’s in love with a boy or anything, but because she starts realizing that there’s more to the people that she wants to overthrow than just what she saw as a little girl. She realizes that her parents, who refused to sign the Wraith Alliance Treaty and also allowed for the kidnapping of the eight-year-old crown prince, might have been wrong about a few, very important things. Not everything is black and white in this story, at least not for our protagonist.
Also, physically, she’s totally kickbutt. I think that the most accurate way to describe Wil would be to call her Catwoman, because that’s essentially who she is: she steals from the rich, steals to survive, and she has one golden rule: do not murder people. It’s a pretty solid rule.
I also appreciate how many masks she wears throughout the novel; she plays the role of the demure and bravehearted Lady Julianna, the astute leader of the Ospreys, the vigilante companion of Black Mask, and also the clueless but determined soldier boy Will. She plays a lot of different people. There’s a lot of manipulation and disguise that goes on.
I also liked Black Mask, and the relationship between the two of them. They’re both creatures of the night; they ultimately want to do right by the people, protect the innocents and their city (like Batman…) and they work super well together. Their subsequent romance doesn’t seem forced at all; it’s very natural and happens slowly, and I like that it bloomed from mutual hatred and distrust. It’s always fun to see two characters who don’t like each other falling in love. Although I do have to say that it was super, super obvious from the beginning that Prince Tobiah was the Black Mask. I remember rolling my eyes when she was like, “Oh my God! Tobiah! You’re Black Mask? What the heck.” Yeah, that part was a little silly. I think it would have been cooler if she’d suspected from the beginning because, I mean, it seemed like the only logical conclusion. The Prince was this mysterious and aloof character who was always bored with his surroundings, always got up super late, I don’t know. I felt it.
I’m pleasantly surprised that there was no romantic triangle with the prince’s bodyguard, James. That would have been really cliche– but there is a sequel, and who knows? James might become the new love interest in that one, now that Tobiah has already sworn that he’ll marry that Meredith lady because it was what his father would have wanted. I liked that he did that; it was a great sucker punch to Wil, who describes her feelings so concisely but descriptively that I could tell exactly what she was going through. I’m sure that they’ll end up together in the end, though. I hope that we see more of Melanie in the next book, who I kept referring to as “Melania” because of the Falling Kingdoms series…
The whole thing with the Wraith was kind of choppily done– I couldn’t really tell if I should sympathize for the Wraith or despise it, and I’m not sure what kind of a role it’s going to play in the next book, but I guess we’ll see… I hope that they do something with that. And Patrick will be an interesting antagonist; he’s the “religious zealot” type, but not so much religious as bent on getting the kingdom back, no matter the cost. I mean, he assassinated the king, and later, the prince. There’s no coming back from that. I’m positive that he’s going to be the main antagonist in the next novel. I did like the descriptions of the Wraith forest while Wil was traveling through, trying to get to Mirror Lake. That was interesting. I wish we could hear more about the wraith-creatures.
Overall, I’m gonna stick with this series and check out the next book. Hopefully it ties a few loose threads, but all in all this book is really good!