Updated: Feb 11, 2022
The Night Orchid
The Wakefield Series, #1
Released 21 April 2021
This book was absolute GOLD! I honestly don't know why some authors are only "indie" authors, when their books are just so good! First M.C. Clay's A Sword of Greed and Envy, and now this? I just can't get enough of these amazing books! (Read my ASOGAE review here!)
As with ASOGAE, The Night Orchid does suffer from some grammatical errors, but I really think that if these authors had dedicated editors like with so many other big name authors and publishers, their books would be infinitely better! (Seriously, though, if either of you need an editor, you know where to find me! I will gladly offer my grammar nazi services if it means I can read your books ahead of time! :) )
Anyway, I digress. The Night Orchid really is such a good book. It's marketed as a YA Romantic Suspense, and I think that it really lives up to its genre. It's definitely YA, but don't let that make you think that it lacks plot and character development; it has all that and more! The romance is definitely there, but it's not the whole thing. It's pretty much on the same standard as many other YA novels—there's some romance, but it's a far cry from your romance novel. And let me tell you about the SUSPENSE!! The mystery is ON FIRE!!! It's so good! It's also a stellar Halloween novel, as it has your creepy spirits and ghost hunting. Now, it definitely doesn't take place during Halloween; in fact, it takes place in January. However, it has those eerie vibes, and maybe I'm a chicken (scratch that, I am a chicken), but it definitely had me sitting on the edge of my seat, in anticipation. Aach! So good!
Is it review time? Or am I just going to keep on ranting?
Okay, before I get into my full review, I do feel the need to preface a couple of things.
First, the trigger warnings. I don't normally do trigger warnings, as I feel they're more unnecessary than helpful. Don't get me wrong; I know a lot of people find trigger warnings beneficial, but for me I think they just make authors seem excessively woke. Being "woke" has it's times and places, but please can we just leave petty politics out of reading? Anyway, that's just my opinion, so . . . ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Nonetheless, here are the trigger warnings.
Trigger Warnings (from the author): Strong language, sexual innuendos and violence. Night Orchid touches on mental health issues and unhealthy coping mechanisms (ie: alcohol abuse, drugs, a habit that resembles cutting). Please take caution if any of these themes trigger you.
Trigger Warnings (from me, the reader): In addition to the TW above, here are some more, all of which may spoiler some or all of the plot. These TWs are only "minor" parts of the book, in that they only occur briefly, mentioned vaguely, or are implied or alluded to. **SPOILER REDACTED**
Second, I received a copy from a giveaway hosted by the author. I was in no way required to read or review it. All opinions are my own.
Last, TNO is available for FREE on Kindle Unlimited right now! So why not take a chance on this AMAZING book?
And now, without further ado, the review. . . .
World Building: 9.5/10
TNO takes place in central California in the small town of Wakefield. In my pathetic attempt to find it on Google Maps, all I got out of it was 5 wasted minutes. But even if I didn't find it, I can still easily picture it. The details of it make this job extremely easy. Wakefield is a small affluent community filled with wealthy upper–middle class citizens. Despite being so affluent, Wakefield isn't without its shady back alleys, aptly dubbed "Jack the Ripper Alley."
I really do like the world building, as it creates such a vivd image in my head. And even if my pathetic attempt at describing it above does nothing for you, just know that when you read this, you'll definitely be able to get a good feel for this world, just as I did.
I can't really say anything bad about the world building, but if I had to try to pick one thing, I guess I would say that I wish there were still more. I would have loved to see more of the town, especially all the places Jo and Julian went ghost hunting as kids. Either way, I really do love the world building, plus I'm glad it's not an info dump.
I just LOVED all of the characters. . . . Well, not exactly all of them, but they were all fleshed out so well. Our 2 MCs, Josephine and Julian, are just stellar! I loved reading from their 2 POVs. Since this is marketed as romantic suspense, I should just say a bit on the romance (more later though). For each of their love lives, I enjoyed reading their thoughts and seeing how the relationships they were in (and the ones they wanted to be in) affected them.
From reading enough YA books with various romances and their respective reviews, I've seen a lot of people mention how they wish they could have seen the love interest's thoughts. In this book, there's no guessing! And I just loved that.
I think you can tell that I love the MCs, and I do. But let me just say that the slew of secondary characters were still amazing! MGH did NOT leave her other characters as dull and as flat as cardboard. I mean, these guys were REAL! I love Dee's personality and her friendship with Jo. I enjoyed seeing that Alexa, Bianca, Brandon, etc. were all real people with real thoughts, feelings, goals, and dreams.
No (secondary) character was left flat. And I say secondary because there's always going to be characters who only get one paragraph or page of time, and obviously you can only give them so much development. However, even those characters still weren't bland. For example, the principle is only mentioned like twice? Even he is not bland; I could probably describe him for you pretty easily. (I'm not because, you know, character count? Plus I'm lazy. XD)
However, I am going to highlight the MCs, because, ya know, they're amazing, I love them, and they're my favorites!
~Josephine "Jo" Ligaya~
Jo is a 17–year–old Filipina senior with overbearing parents. Hating her familial situation, she's constantly working toward getting out on her own when she's 18.
I just loved seeing her drive and her determination. She is so incredibly driven toward her goals. And I love this about this. She takes no nonesense, plus she's such a bada**. Many authors try so hard to make their female protagonists "not like any of the girls" and these major bada**es, but they fail. And they make readers HATE their characters.
MGH does NOT fail. Sure, Jo's technically not like any of the girls, but she's completely believable. You're trying to make me believe that she's a baddie? Okay, I believe it because you opened with Jo competing in an illegal fight in which she WINS! Then you tell me she won because she has an amazing MMA teacher, who was an ex–MMA fighter, not because of pure luck? I'll believe that! Now you expect me to believe that Jo's not a perfect angel, but has her struggles? I'll believe that because you tell me that she's friends with her drug dealer and again is fighting illegally to make money.
This all happens in the span of one chapter—the first chapter, to be exact. This is spectacular character development, but perhaps more importantly, it's also believable. MGH wasn't telling readers to think something about Jo without any proof; everything is there.
Also, I just really love how much Jo grows throughout the novel. Jo really opens up throughout the course of TNO, and it's so amazing to see more of her and her amazing personality.
And just one more thing, before I move on to Julian, Jo is described as being a pretty hot girl. But, I really love that despite this, MGH didn't turn Jo into an object. Yeah, she's pretty, but she can definitely take care of herself (ahem, MMA fighter?). However, she's also not a jerk. Jo doesn't act superior to anyone just because of her looks. Also, even though she can take care of herself, Jo still lets her friends help her. She doesn't get on her high horse, refusing help just to prove a point. And I really love this about her.
I think I've found a new book boyfriend.
I know I mentioned ASOGAE earlier in my review, so I'm going to again here. I liked Ash, but he's almost too protective, if you get what I mean. I mean at times, he also is borderline a jerk. 🙄
But Julian? No, this jock is a cinnamon roll, and a romantic cinnamon roll.
After being dismissed by Jo before their freshman year, Julian put Jo in the rearview mirror and never looked back. . . . Or so he thought. In the years since their friendship fractured, Julian had a major glow up, and being a competitive swimmer, he has 0% body fat, making him an extremely hot guy in the school. (He also acquired a new nickname, "Ian," which personally I hate; I prefer what Jo calls him: Julian or Jules. Ian just sounds weird. Anyway, I digress.) When Jo walks back into his life, his life is turned upside down. Given that he is dating one of the hottest girls in the school, Bianca, and that his friendship with Jo is over, Julian basically treats Jo like a jerk.
However, throughout all of this, I really enjoyed reading Julian's reactions and his thoughts. I enjoyed reading about how hurt he was when Jo dismissed him for seemingly no reason. I enjoyed reading his coming to terms with Jo's new presence and with Alexa's disappearance. Really, I enjoyed everything about Julian and his POV.
The plot is so good! I loved delving into the mystery of Alexa's disappearance and murder. I really enjoyed seeing how Jo and Julian came together as unwilling friends, in order to solve this mystery. I loved seeing Jo use her abilities as a medium to solve the mystery. I just found the whole concept of this "gift"/"curse" quite fascinating!
However, there was still way more than just the mystery of Alexa. There were other mysteries, such as what happened to make Jo dismiss her childhood best friend without a reason, and a great root–worthy romance. I really enjoyed reading all of it. There really was nothing that I didn't like.
There really were so many great relationships, even ones that weren't romantic! I'm only going to highlight a few below, but know that there were so many other good relationships!
This first one isn't really a spoiler (because I'm sure you can guess it given the description and traditional YA trends), but in case you're concerned, I have spoiler tagged it.
~Jo & Aunty Helen and Mama Nilda~
I really LOVE Jo's relationships with her 2 motherly figures. I love seeing how much care, attention, and love she gets from her aunt and her housekeeper. It really juxtaposes how little her parents care for her. I just love it. That's it.
~Jo & Dee~
I'm thrilled that Jo found a friend in Dee. Their friendship is absolutely hilarious, and nothing I can say about them is spoiler free, so this is all you'll get. I just love their friendship.
Prose & Pacing: 9/10
Prose and pacing is amazing. I love how easy it was to get into this. MGH's writing just flows off the page. However, as I said earlier, TNO suffers from multiple grammatical errors. While they're not too major, it distracts from the actual plot. Being a grammar nazi, I notice them, but I will say that they really aren't that noticeable if you aren't looking for them. So this is really just a minor critique.
The only other thing that threw me for a loop was the time problem. There were certain things that occurred that made me reread thinking, "Wait what?" For example, a character says he was waiting for 30 minutes outside his house, when he'd just gotten home 20 minutes ago and showered. I don't think that makes sense; the times just aren't lining up. But other than cases like that, I really didn't see any other problems.
In case you really couldn't tell, I really liked this book. If I'm being honest, I picked up TNO because I knew the author had sent me a copy, so I felt obliged to read it. I didn't pick it up because I was just dying to read it. But I read it. And I was hooked by the prologue. And yeah, I was creeped out a little, but I was hooked. Then I finished it, and I was in that good–book depression that I'm sure you know and have experienced. I thought about picking up another book, but I just couldn't. I couldn't bring myself to leave this world, so I read it again! I've read this book TWICE!
Now, I'm a busy student, so I really didn't have time to read this in one sitting, but had this been a break instead of a normal week, I likely could have finished this in just one sitting. It was THAT good!
So, if you've gotten this far in my review, kudos to you! Now, go get this book and read it! I highly recommend it.
Also, it's on Kindle Unlimited for FREE!!! So why not try it?
Get it on Kindle Unlimited here: https://www.amazon.com/Night-Orchid-M...
I was randomly chosen as a winner of this book via an Addicted to YA book giveaway. I was in no way influenced to rate highly; all thoughts and opinions are my own. I was in no way required or requested to promote this book or the author. Eternal thanks to M.G. Hernandez for my copy of this amazing book!
Full review posted to Goodreads
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