They don’t get better than this. Jodi Meadows’ Orphan Queen duology has to be the most phenomenal fiction I’ve read in quite some time. As readers of my blog may remember, the first book came to my attention during a browsing session at the nearest public library branch. When I finished this novel, I wondered how the author could end her story on the proverbial edge of a cliff–until I discovered a sequel was awaiting publication. With relief and not a little anticipation, this bibliophile began looking forward to the day the second book would be in my hands.
Three months turned into seven before the public library system obtained the novel–in e-book format. Beggars can’t be choosers, so I decided that reading the continuation of the tale outweighed my old-fashioned preference for the traditional book. The virtual pages could not be turned fast enough, and last night I reluctantly turned the last one. So, as promised, here is my review of the incomparable The Mirror King.
Things could not possibly be worse. Prince Tobiah, the heir to the throne of the Indigo Kingdom, has been mortally wounded. It is barely a week after his father, the king, was murdered. Wilhelmina, the princess from Aecor whose own parents were killed ten years before in what came to be known as the One-Night War (and who awaits the day when she can reclaim the throne) shares the kingdom’s distress. For she knows who performed both dastardly deeds: Patrick, an Aecorian who supports her cause–and will stop at nothing, even murder, to achieve his aim. Before the attack, Tobiah revealed Wilhelmina’s identity to his subjects–and the princess learned that the young monarch is Black Knife, a vigilante she joins night after night do battle against the kingdom’s dangers.
Even though Wilhelmina’s feelings for Tobiah are mixed, she knows she cannot allow him to die. Despite the fact that the magical abilities she possesses are forbidden (making use of them increases wraith, a sinister substance that is overtaking the landscape and destroying kingdoms and their people), the young woman acts. When the combined efforts of Wilhelmina and Connor, one of the last remaining Aecorian noblemen, bear fruit and Tobiah recovers, the kingdom is relieved.
However, this relief is short-lived. Wraith continues its menacing march and threatens Tobiah’s kingdom with increasing speed. Against this backdrop, the prince, putting duty ahead of his personal wishes, determines to officially take the crown and marry Lady Meredith, the young woman favored by the late king. Yet, following the coronation, the new monarch’s plans for his future, and that of his people, are foiled by adversaries both human and magical. When tragedy strikes, and Tobiah understandably blames Wilhelmina, the princess decides the time has come to return to her homeland. With James, the king’s cousin, closest friend, and guard joining her entourage at Tobiah’s request, Wilhelmina begins the journey to the kingdom she has not seen in ten years to take her rightful place as its queen. As the young woman enters Aecor and takes steps to ascend the throne, devastating news arrives from the Indigo Kingdom. Fearing that all hope is lost, Wilhelmina questions whether she has the ability to rule–or even if there will a kingdom left for her to govern.
Under the capable pen of Jodi Miller, The Mirror King picks up where The Orphan Queen ends and takes off running. This continuation of Wilhelmina’s story lacks none of the excitement, surprises, and suspense of the first novel. The journey of discovery that our heroine, Tobiah, James, the queen-wannabe’s best friend Melanie, and the rest of the people in their world undertake is the stuff of great fiction. By the time readers reluctantly turn the last page, they will know they have read something remarkable. I know I am not the only one who will want to check out the author’s earlier works and look forward to what she will do next. (In the meantime, there are four Orphan Queen novellas to enjoy!)