Goodreads: The Orphan Queen
Series: The Orphan Queen #1
Ten years ago, Wilhemina Korte, princess of Aecor, watched her parents die at the hands of the Indigo Kingdom. She and the other noble children were taken to the capital of their conquerors. But they escaped and now they live as spies, determined to do whatever it takes to return home. Even if they do, however, the wraith, a toxic mist born of magic, is slowly wiping entire lands off the map. Wil wants to become queen. But can she protect her people from the Indigo Kingdom and the wraith?
The Orphan Queen will seem familiar to any avid read of YA fantasy. And even readers who do not customarily indulge in YA will find the plot predictable. The plot is also slightly ridiculous. Nevertheless, The Orphan Queen is a spirited book. It wants desperately to be entertaining and, by golly, it is.
You have probably read this book before. A princess has lost her throne. Now she lives in the shadows, surviving as a thief and outlaw while she bides her time to a triumphant return to her land. In the meantime, she will do some espionage at court, pretending to be a noble lady and flirting shamelessly with handsome men for information. She will make enemies of women who are more beautiful than she, draw the attention of the prince himself, and ultimately be her own downfall because her efforts at spying are terrible–even though the narrator assures us she is amazing at everything. Despite having read this book, however, you will probably read it again because who doesn’t love some political intrigue?
At some point, you may stop to think about the political intrigue. You will realize that it is, in fact, ridiculous. The princess of a subjugated nation has just waltzed into a palace full of people who could conceivably recognize her. She is pretending to be a refugee, but does not actually know anything about anything she claims to have experienced. Instead of keeping a map of the palace in her head, she works on it in her room and–best of all–hides secret documents like that under her mattress. She is warned that people find her suspicious (and how could they not when she acts so weird all the time and not like a noble lady at all?), but still likes to sneak out at night. After considering all this, you may decide the book is not worth your time. Or you may realize that a great deal of YA has terrible politics and you don’t really care. After all, this is fun!
The rest of the book makes just as little sense. Our protagonist is leading a tiny group of children who somehow plan to take back their kingdom. No word on how, exactly. Wilhelmina, the princess, initially starts out enemies with a vigilante but they, quite expectedly, suddenly fall in love after Wil commits a terrible crime. Wil also takes a random detour into the wraithland. Her plan is literally “go there and come back.” She is gone for weeks and thinks no one will notice. Wil also knows a murderer is afoot but decides that if she gives a noble-sounding speech, it will be all right. For no apparent reason. She lets the murderer go. But to question is to destroy the fun. It’s better just to go on a whirlwind adventure and hope everything turns out all right, despite Wil’s increasingly silly decisions.
The Orphan Queen is probably not what one would call a soundly-constructed book. It contains many logical flaws and its premise is is wholly unoriginal. Still, I don’t think it is claiming to be high art. It is supposed to be thrilling and romantic. And it is. I already have a good idea of how the sequel will turn out, but I still want to read it.