Last Updated on December 20, 2022 by ThoughtsStained
For me, The Wolf of Oren-Yaro by K.S. Villoso carried a lot of hype. Many of my trusted friends and reviewers loved it, so I had high hopes going in. (Plus, look at that cover.) I’m very glad to report that it did not disappoint. Not in the slightest.
An ARC copy was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
Publisher: Orbit Books | Release Date: February 2020 | Pages: 496
Age Range: Adult | Genre: Fantasy | Format: Paerback | Source: ARC
A queen of a divided land must unite her people, even if they hate her, even if it means stopping a ruin that she helped create. A debut epic fantasy from an exciting new voice.
“I murdered a man and made my husband leave the night before they crowned me.”
Born under the crumbling towers of Oren-yaro, Queen Talyien was the shining jewel and legacy of the bloody War of the Wolves that nearly tore her nation apart. Her upcoming marriage to the son of her father’s rival heralds peaceful days to come.
But his sudden departure before their reign begins fractures the kingdom beyond repair.
Years later, Talyien receives a message, urging her to attend a meeting across the sea. It’s meant to be an effort at reconciliation, but an assassination attempt leaves the queen stranded and desperate to survive in a dangerous land. With no idea who she can trust, she’s on her own as she struggles to fight her way home.
On the Page
- Public punishment
- Assassination attempt
- Coerced sex work
Content warnings are written up by me, unless specified. Subject to being an incomplete list, though guided by referencing this list and trying to highlight as many as I can identify.
- Characterization is on point and is honestly what captivated me the most from this story. With each character, I have very distinct opinions about them. Talyien, I love, could punch and admire beyond belief. Rai, I could throttle. Khine, I adore and hope we see more of him in the second book. From being completely repulsed by characters (seriously, I am still trying to wrap my mind around Yuebeck) to being completely smitten, Villoso does an amazing job with characterization.
- The continued escalated tension. Each moment, when I thought Tali couldn’t get into a more challenging situation, it just continued to get worse and worse for her? And because I’m an apparent glutton for punishment, each time I was continually impressed, responding with an excited, “Yes, give me more,” even as my heart broke for Tali and continually begged, “Please, we can’t take anymore, she doesn’t deserve this.” It was a brilliant execution of tension and raising stakes.
- The emphasis on food. This might seem like an odd one, but I couldn’t help notice the inclusion of so many different meals that not only made my own mouth water, but also just made the world come alive that much more, by showing such a wide variety of meals. I feel this is something I don’t see very often (and also called attention to it in my own head, when thinking of my own novels and how this element is lacking), so I just really appreciated this extra detail in terms of worldbuilding.
- The beginning. Don’t get me wrong: that first line absolutely floored me and is one of my favorites. I’m not sure if it was just because I was coming off a romance-reading-binge or what, but it took me a little bit to get into this story and I can’t pinpoint exactly why. I think I would have liked to witness what was described firsthand, perhaps, before we jump into the recollection by Tali? Don’t get me wrong, however, this book is still killer and totally worth your time reading it.
- Tali’s stubbornness in regards to Rayyel. This might not deserve to be listed as a dislike, especially since I can completely understand Tali’s motives, but it absolutely drove me up a wall how she is so fixated on fixing things with Rai, to to the point where she is giving everything. It’s this laser-beam type focus that became a bit exhausting towards the end, and made me want to shake her. Yet, at the same time, I can’t really blame her. Not truly. And I’ll support her until the end.
So, no surprise that I absolutely loved this story! If you’re a fan of fantasy, you’ll want to read The Wolf of Oren-yaro. If you are fan of feeling pain thanks to what you’re reading, like I am? Then you’re welcome.