Title: The Shadow Queen
Series: Ravenspire, #1
Author: C.J. Redwine
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: February 16th, 2016
Source: Given by my awesome OTSPSecretSister, whose identity still remains a secret
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.
Well, just look at that cover. It’s gorgeous and disturbing and lovely.
As for the content within:
I liked that Lorelai’s key heroic feature was her constant analyzation and awareness of the world around her. She was very general-esque in that way, and I also liked that her father figure and her brother deferred to her about it, which means we don’t have to wade through the setup of her proving herself. She’s a capable sorcerer at the start, and also compassionate.
She’s also very focused on her mission, despite her attraction to Kol.
I enjoyed the way magic works in this book, which is very elemental but tied to language and intent. I also thought the Draconi was a clever concept- Redwine clearly thought out a lot of the human/dragon shapeshifter side issues (like how none of them are bothered by being naked, since they are every time they shift).
It’s also got a lot of nods to the tale of Snow White (in addition to the overall plot, as a retelling). Apples play a hefty part, as does the mirror, the heroine’s coloring, the removal of hearts (harkening back to Once Upon a Time), etc. I think the romance was handled well, too.
There was also no glossing over the consequence of loss, so even though Lorelai’s grief felt more reflective than genuine-gut-punch-recent-loss, it was nice to see her having to slog through that and not just shrugging it off.
The things I was frustrated by:
- The quips and wit and full-on conversations while people are running for their lives. It’s unrealistic and reduces the tension and danger of the scene. Also, it makes her brother more plot device (the plucky, funny sidekick) than character.
- It was nice to see that the evil queen is ruthless, but I never felt like there was a point behind her cruelty. She didn’t seem to enjoy the power she was going to great lengths to wield, so she was a vague threat instead of a complex individual. Also, every scene with her felt like rewatching season 1 of Once Upon a Time (back when Regina was chewing scenes).
- The parkour craziness. Physics and the strains of human skeletal systems aren’t burdens Lorelai has to deal with, I guess?
- How much pain can a demi-person take? Enough to be boring and repetitive and unbelievable (days of agony and fire and on and on and on).
Overall it wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be, but it was a solid retelling of Snow White. I won’t be continuing the series, but if you like standard YA fantasy and fairy tale retellings, you may enjoy it more than I did.