Princess Wilhelmina “Wil” Korte returns to reclaim her kingdom in this sequel to The Orphan Queen (2015).
The action picks up where the last book’s ended: Crown Prince Tobiah of the Indigo Kingdom has been fatally wounded by Wil’s former ally. The intense opening sets a pace that never falters. Tobiah is saved, but his brush with death doesn’t deter him from attempting to fulfil his father’s dying wish that he marry Meredith, though his heart belongs to Wil. The many barriers between Wil and Tobiah are heartbreakingly real, making their romance that much more compelling. The most pressing concern though is the encroaching “wraith”—toxic magical residue that warps everything in its path. Wil finally makes it home to Aecor, her kingdom, but problems persist: her (well-founded) ever present fear that she won’t be a capable queen, her complex relationship with Tobiah, and how to battle the wraith, among others. Truths are revealed, sacrifices are made, nothing is easy—there are no cure-alls (magic has its price) or deus ex machina endings. This story’s the perfect length, and though it’s hard to say goodbye to lovable, flawed, strong Wil, such a well-crafted, enjoyable, and immersive story helps ease the pain. It is a crying shame that Wil—who’s self-described as brown-skinned—is whitewashed on the cover.
Here’s hoping for more tales set in this intriguing world. (Fantasy. 14 & up)