I was really excited to read this book once I read the description on Goodreads several months ago. Luckily, an advanced copy showed up at work so I could share my thoughts with all of you.
This cover seems simple but the story quickly shows just how symbolic it actually is, but since I’m trying to avoid spoilers here, I’ll just let you make the connection yourself 🙂
Now to dig into the flesh of the story, which is a refreshing, although very dark Snow White retelling and I found myself unable to put down the book more than once or twice (to sleep and eat). And when it was finished, I just wanted it to keep going. But not because we ended on a major cliffhanger (YES!), I want to see what else these characters can accomplish. Let me introduce our main characters:
Lorelei Diederich-Disposed princess on the run, trying to learn how to use her magic without attracting the attention of Queen Irina
Queen Irina-A powerful, jealous mardushka, whose magic is harming the land and is both creepy and intense
King Kol-Recently lost his father, mother, and older brother in the Ogre War and needs a powerful ally to save his country of dragon shifters
I think my favorite part of this book was Lorelei’s strength, ability to plan, courage to carry out those plans, and her tenacity and ferociousness without compromising herself or falling into the stereotypical princess outline. Redwine should be commended for creating characters with depth and purpose that seem real.
As for the plot, it’s pretty basic–rebel wants to overthrow the evil monarch and wins over allies who are very useful to that end. It’s the characters and the fulfillment of each plot point with little twists that make the story so enjoyable. The beginning was maybe just a little slow, but once you get past the first 50 or so pages, it really picks and the pacing is right on point for the rest of the story. Redwine has confirmed on Goodreads that this is “the first in a series of stand alone companion novels, each an epic fantasy fairy tale retelling set in adjoining kingdoms,” and I can’t wait to read them all!
Do you remember Snow White & the Huntsman? Did you love the dark portrayal of Charlize Theron’s evil queen but felt the movie was lacking in something? As I read The Shadow Queen, I couldn’t help but wish this book had been the basis for that movie. It was dark, gritty and possessed the same type of awesome magic, but had a much more powerful Snow White character. You’ll have to let me know if you feel the same in the comments section.
From the publisher:
A dark epic fantasy inspired by the tale of Snow White, from C. J. Redwine, the author of the Defiance series. Perfect for fans of A Court of Thorns and Roses and Cinder.
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 of his own—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.