The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine
Series: Ravenspire #1
Published by Balzer + Bray on February 16th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Fairy Tale, Young Adult
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Lorelai Diederich, crown princess and fugitive at large, has one mission: kill the wicked queen who took both the Ravenspire throne and the life of her father. To do that, Lorelai needs to use the one weapon she and Queen Irina have in common—magic. She’ll have to be stronger, faster, and more powerful than Irina, the most dangerous sorceress Ravenspire has ever seen.
In the neighboring kingdom of Eldr, when Prince Kol’s father and older brother are killed by an invading army of magic-wielding ogres, the second-born prince is suddenly given the responsibility of saving his kingdom. To do that, Kol needs magic—and the only way to get it is to make a deal with the queen of Ravenspire, promise to become her personal huntsman…and bring her Lorelai’s heart.
But Lorelai is nothing like Kol expected—beautiful, fierce, and unstoppable—and despite dark magic, Lorelai is drawn in by the passionate and troubled king. Fighting to stay one step ahead of the dragon huntsman—who she likes far more than she should—Lorelai does everything in her power to ruin the wicked queen. But Irina isn’t going down without a fight, and her final move may cost the princess the one thing she still has left to lose.
On the run with her brother, Leo, rightful Queen of Ravenspire, Lorelei Diederich is working on a plan to overthrow the evil Queen Irina, her aunt. After Lorelei’s mother died, her fathered married her aunt, who used her magic to poison the minds of the people of the court. When young Lorelei released what was happening, she used her own magic to try and stop the Evil Queen, but it all went a bit wrong, and her father ended up dying. On the run with guardian-figure Gabril, a former Palace guard, Lorelei wears gloves to ensure that she doesn’t touch anything that Irina may have seeped magic into. If she does, then Irina will know where she is and come after her. Irna wants her dead, as she is the only one in the way of Irina remaining the Queen.
Meanwhile, in Eldr, a Kingdom that neighbours Ravenspire, Prince Kol is struck with a tragedy and must start making plans and decisions for his Kingdom. Ogres are attacking from another land, and Eldr needs help. He know that Ravenspire is going hungry, and Eldr has money enough to give them. Kol’s plan is to go to Quen Irina and ask for an alliance, a trade of resources. If she helps them attack and rid the land of ogres, then they will give Ravenspire the money they need to feed their people.
In a small town in Ravenspire, Kol and Lorelei meet. Together with their friends and family they start putting together a plot to get of Irina and put Lorelei on the throne once and for all.
I really enjoyed this retelling of Snow White. When it comes to retellings of well-known and well-loved fairy tales, it’s hard to do it right, but I think that C.J. Redwine definitely did a fantastic job. I loved the ways it was similar to Snow White, and the ways that it was different. I particularity like the dragon aspect (oh, did I mention there were dragons?!). Kol and his people are Draconi. They have 2 hearts, a human on and a dragon one, and yes, they can turn into dragons. How great is that? It’s definitely a cool feature of the book.
Other magical elements like that that I really liked were the poisonous apples that Irina feeds the court members to control them, and the way that Lorelei has a huge bird that she can communicate through the mind with.
I quite liked the characters in this story, and thought that Lorelei especially, was much more kick-ass than Snow White ever was. Theo was very likeable too, he was funny and sweet, and Gabril was so dedicated to their survival and their protection. I quite liked Kol’s friends too. It seems that the cast of minor characters were nearly as strong as the main, and that was really fun to read. The fact that Kol was The Huntsman, and how that side of the story planned out was a bit dark and twisted, but it worked really well.
Another thing I really liked about The Shadow Queen was that, while I did call some things, it was just the end of the story like we know Snow White to be. It was very different, but like I said before, the elements of the original story of Snow White were still there.
One of the things I did struggle with, however, was the mind-communication. I won’t give too much away, but there is a character or two that Lorelei can communicate with like her bird, and it’s written in italics throughout the book, so when there are long conversation is physically makes it difficult to read. I think I’m so used to speech marks for communication purposes that I found it though not to just glance over the conversations. Perhaps just style thing, but it was a bit annoying.
Other than that, I really did enjoy this book! If you’re one for retellings of fairy tales – and even if you’re not! – then this is great one to pick up.
Have you read The Shadow Queen? What did you think?
“You don’t go into battle because you’re sure of victory. You go into battle because it’s the right thing to do.”