Some weeks ago, I scanned the shelves of the nearest public library branch (a practice that has become more or less routine since my “enforced retirement” this past summer). One of the titles that caught my attention, upon perusal of the blurb and cover picture, looked promising enough that I decided to check it out. As the most recently-published volume in a series was also among my borrowed books, this new addition waited patiently for me to finish it before receiving my full attention.
It was worth the wait. The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows grabs readers on the first page and doesn’t let go. We meet Wilhemina, a princess whose kingdom, Aecor, was conquered by The Indigo Kingdom ten years before. Her parents were killed in the invasion, so Wilhemina and other orphans are living in an abandoned castle and plotting the return of Aecor’s rightful monarch to the throne. Toward this end, the princess-in-hiding infiltrates the Indigo Kingdom’s palace to gain information that will help in their quest. Wilhemina’s sojourn under the nose of the very king who ordered her parents’ deaths tests her powers of self-control. What’s more, her ability to perform magic, an activity forbidden for a hundred years because of wraith, a poisonous substance produced by its practice, is a secret she keeps from even her best friend–and only uses when her life is on the line. When things come to a head, and a surprise disclosure reveals the identity of Black Knife (a vigilante who spends his nights defending the helpless), Wilhemina must deal with her conflicting emotions concerning him and those with whom she has lived and struggled for a decade.
When I completed this blockbuster, I was devastated. Not because the conclusion was a disappointment, but because the cliffhanger ending left me wondering about the possibilities. (An aside: I was even intrigued by the author’s list of acknowledgements; she includes the Creator among those to whom she is indebted. As are we all.) Then I discovered that Jodi Meadows’ novel is the first of a two-volume set. Now I have another test of patience: waiting three months until the April 5 publication of The Mirror Queen. Add to that the concluding volume, alluded to above, of the Unwanted series, scheduled to be available April 12, and the interval seems interminably long.
There is one remedy: head back to the library in search of another literary gem while I wait.