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Bookbed reviews: ‘Orphan Price’ by Joel Donato Ching Jacob #OrphanPrice


This is a sequel to Wing of the Locust by the same author. Read my review here. Orphan Price can be read as a standalone.


Gilas and Liksi accompany Tuan to investigate the death of a Maginoo in a neighbouring barangay. What they discover forces them reflect on the part the Alipin play in keeping the Maginoo in power and to examine how their actions will affect their future and the future of Ma’I.


Reading a sequel can be a hit-or-miss but I’m pleased to report that I enjoyed seeing Tuan, the young mambabarang, and the rest of his friends—Gilas, the half-kapre; Liksi, the batibot (trained warrior; only girl in the group); and Fangren, the trader—in Orphan Price once again. Here, they went on yet another dangerous, nay, thrilling adventure: to another barangay to probe the death of a matriarch from a ruling clan.

While the story did start quite slow for me (there was more tell than show in the first few pages), I liked that there was a reintroduction of the setting, the characters and their goals, and the task at hand (or, simply put, the conflict). Sometimes reader do forget (or that they don’t have much time to reread the earlier installments), and it’s nice to be reminded!

Later, I found the overall plot to be more dynamic, with a bigger mystery to solve, a wider world to explore, and a larger cast to get to know. I was eager to follow Tuan and his friends’ quest, what with their discoveries about Pinagwagian and its inhabitants, and of course, about one another. Gilas and Liksi (a favorite character of mine for obvious reasons) were given more of the spotlight in this book, and I liked how having those multiple viewpoints provided a richer understanding of the story.

More Filipino folklore elements of course also came into view, and I thought they were wisely used, especially in building a more colorful world. The relevance of the story to the reader was equally established; from friendships and societal expectations to survival and the desire to make things right, there were several things I understood and related to.

Last but not the least: the complexities of the feudal system in place in Pinagwagian. I liked how the author highlighted those, and how it would be easy for any reader to see that some of those situations and struggles have continued on to today’s time. It helped the story set in precolonial Philippines hit closer to home, at the same time allowing a vivid insight as to how everyday life and societies were in that setting.


For first-time readers of this series, it might take a while for them to settle in. The prose and imagery are beautiful, yes, but sometimes they can get overwhelming, requiring pauses or breaks before reading more. As I also said, there’s quite more tell more than show in several parts, and a few POV shifts within a chapter that could disrupt the flow of the story, but nothing that can’t be improved in the next books.


A story weaved in folklore and friendships, and debt slavery and death, Orphan Price by Joel Donato Ching Jacob offers an eye-opening adventure for both young adults and young adults at heart. A sequel to Wing of the Locust but can be read as a standalone.


Bookbed received a copy from the publisher in exchange for honest thoughts.
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