book review

The Orphan Queen- Just another boring fantasy

Synopsis from Goodreads: 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.

I didn’t like this book. It was just too generic. I would call it ‘Just Another Epic Fantasy’ (or JAEF) There were a lot of appealing things about it- the premise, for example. But unlike The Storyspinner a good story and awesome characters didn’t compensate. I didn’t hate it though, so it gets some points.
The set up is very fantasy. There is royalty and banned magic and Evil (also known as wraith) and then to appease her female readers, Meadows had some pretty dresses and parties. And the plot follows a plot that I have seen so many incarnations of- Eragon, Icemark, Bartimaeus- but without the interesting added bonuses of dragons or Snow Leopards or wit. These girls infiltrate a palace. They make maps. They sneak out all the time. They discover that a PLOT IS BREWING YAY, one of them falls in love. One meets a mysterious masked man. And then there is an epic journey and some street fighting and some deaths and then an EPIC REVEAL and then it ends. There was a little plot twist, but I saw it coming because it was so obvious, really. Also, the action at the end was really, really rushed. And there was a terrible cliffhanger, because it’s a series, obviously.
The worldbuilding made me sad, because there was so much potential. But it was really confusing. Things weren’t explained. A history of the Wraith was needed, because it was pretty important, and it wasn’t there. Cathdral bells were mentioned, but religion was never talked about. The magic was thoroughly explained, and not in an info-dumpy way, and I did like how it contributed to Wil’s meager character development. A bit about the political relationships became clear towards the end of the novel, but really? I couldn’t even work out whether Aecor had wraith or whether it was conquered for the longest time. Even the identites of the characters and the formation of the Osprey’s weren’t well defined. It was just too confusing
Black Knife was really the only interesting character. Self appointed vigilantes are cool. Patrick, Melanie, Connor and the other Osprey’s weren’t fully fleshed out, so that annoyed me, because it made it much more difficult to understand Wilhemina. I mean, the characters weren’t unlikable, but they just ran around being awesome and fighting and only the sparse flashbacks gave them any degree of depth . the violence felt very manufactured- the characters participated in it without it giving them depth or an understanding of who they are and where they are prepared to go.
The writing style was alright. It kept me reading, and the use of idiom and figurative language was appealing. I would use quotes, but the book has returned to the library from whence it came.
This book was boring. It had nothing that I haven’t seen before, and it didn’t have any twists to make it still worth persisting with. I’m not invested enough to read the sequel despite the irritating cliffhanger. That said, if you like the premise, you could still read it. There’s not much unlikable here- there’s just same old fantasy in an increasingly generic genre.

Have you read this? Are you going to? How do you feel about ‘generic fantasy’? Also, should I give star ratings? Tell me in the comments

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6 thoughts on “The Orphan Queen- Just another boring fantasy

  1. Oh, and I had SUCH high hopes for this one. It’s always disappointing when a much-hyped book turns out to be a stock of that genre. And I totally know what you mean by action without depth — just finished beta-reading a ms with that issue.

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  2. This doesn’t surprise me though I had my hopes a bit for this one. Don’t know why though, I didn’t finish the Incarnate trilogy.

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      1. I feel like that’s why I’m in so many reading slumps lately. So much mimicry and generic material in YA books. Few take me by surprise anymore.

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