Book Reviews

The Wolf of Oren-Yaro (Chronicles of the Bitch Queen #1) by K.S. Villoso


Released: February 2020
Publisher: Orbit Books
Pages: 480
Rating: 5/5

‘They called me the Bitch Queen, the she-wolf, because I murdered a man and exiled my king the night before they crowned me.’


From the publisher:

Born under the towers of Oren-yaro, Queen Talyien inherited a deeply divided kingdom, devastated by years of war. Her marriage to the son of a rival clan was meant to herald peace, yet her fiancé disappeared before their reign could even begin.

Now, years later, Talyien receives a message that will send her across on the sea. Yet what was meant as an effort to reconcile the past leaves her stranded in a land she doesn’t know, with assassins at her back and no idea who she can trust.

If Talyien is to survive, she must embrace her namesake. A wolf of Oren-yaro is not tamed.


Fantasy is not a genre I really go out of my way to read these days unless the synopsis sounds like it will definitely bring something new to the table. I got a little burned out on the non-stop stream we seemed to be getting of fantasy novels, especially YA ones.

So many of them seemed to have similar plot lines and character traits, making it feel a bit samey. Plus they all seemed to have titles that had come from one of those Fantasy Book Name generators that pop up occasionally on social media.

Mine is The Kingdom of Wolves and Ravens, btw.

Well, if 2020 is anything to go by so far, unique and heart-pounding fantasy novels are making a comeback. I’ve read two this month (both written by women!) that were staggeringly awesome. I’m a full-fledged fantasy lover again! One book you will be hearing about in the coming weeks, but today we’re going to be talking about the incredible start to the Chronicles of the Bitch Queen. I mean, with a character called the “Bitch Queen,” you know you’re in for a heckin’ good ride.

From the first bloody page to the final (also somewhat bloody) one, I was completely hooked. The strongly Asian influenced setting really added a unique air to the story, weaving in aspects of Asian culture many readers may not be familiar with. It was a delightful backdrop to the action, political intrigue, and the never ending twists Villoso kept throwing the reader’s way. Just when you think you know what’s going on with this book, a turn comes completely out of left field and you realize that nope, you were totally wrong. The major twists toward the end completely threw me- I didn’t see that coming AT ALL.

Even if this book wasn’t as twisty as it was, the writing, non-stop action, and characters would have been enough to keep me turning the pages. It was a wonderfully woven story with so many gripping aspects. Plus, all the bad-ass women were practically having me cheering as I was reading.

Despite being a fast paced story, however, you could feel a slow burn bubbling underneath it all, especially with all the magic brimming just out of reach within Queen Talyien’s world. As you near the climax of the book, that tension seriously mounts before an utter explosion of events that nearly left me breathless.

As for the characters, most of them were really compelling, even the ones with darker, more ulterior motives. Some may not have been as fully fleshed out as you’d expect in a book this long, but that didn’t really distract from the overall progression of the story. As for the Bitch Queen herself, she wears that title proudly and you soon learn why. She’s a little hard to like at first, but as you discover more about her life you start to realize the reasons for why she is the way she is.

She does have a softer side, though, one that I think makes her all the more impressive. It didn’t take me long to start pulling for her during her seemingly never-ending plight for her throne and her life. I’m hardcore Team Talyien.

The only character I didn’t like was her utterly petulant husband, but his ridiculousness was kinda essential to the story. So unfortunately that muppet and his feckless antics were necessary. Still doesn’t mean I like the guy, though.

One thing that kept irking me was that despite how awful and dire her situation became, Talyien was able to have just enough luck to get out of each scrape before immediately being plunged into the next one. Although I use the term “lucky” loosely because the woman got into some pretty horrific situations.

It seemed a little too “lucky” at times, but then it dawned on me that maybe that’s the point: because she is the true heir to the Dragonthrone, the only one who can lead her people, the universe kept doing what it could to keep her alive and pushing forward.


This book seriously has everything. Strong female characters? Check. Kick-ass action? Check. Magic and impressive world building? Double check. Plus there’s some bandits and dragons thrown in for good measure.

I am just so impressed by the explosive first installment of the Chronicles of the Bitch Queen. As soon as I finished it, I went straight into a book hangover craving the only thing that would cure it: the next book in the series. I can’t wait for the sequel, but for now I’m extremely happy to have been given the chance to read this phenomenal book.


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