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.
My Rating: 5 Stars
There is one surefire way to get me to buy a book, I promise you, it never fails. Earlier this week I was walking though Barnes and Noble with my Christmas gift cards (my family knows me so well) when the cover of The Shadow Queen caught my eye. While the cover itself is beautiful – and as I came to find out, perfect for this book – it wasn’t the illustration that caught my eye. At the top of the book jacket, was praise for this book written by one of my favorite authors, Marissa Meyer. I immediately snatched the book off the shelf and turned it over to learn more, only to see that Maria V. Snyder also recommended it. Without further ado, I added the book to my pile, and the rest is history. The easiest way to convey to you how much I loved this book is this: when not even halfway through the book, I preordered a hardcover copy of its sequel and requested an ARC on Edelweiss.
I haven’t taken such a quick liking to a female lead since Aelin from the Throne of Glass series. Lorelai may be a queen without a throne, but she is a complete badass. In her years away from the castle Queen Irina stole from her, she has learned (with help from Gabril and Leo – who I loved from the beginning) how to fight, climb, be stealthy and control her magic. Although she does suffer some doubts over the course of the book -as would anyone faced with such obstacles – Lorelai never gives up the fight. What I enjoyed the most about her was her mind for strategy. As Kol explains it, she quickly assesses every situation, determines the most practical course of action, and executes it without hesitation. One of my favorite things about this book was the way that Lorelai accessed her magic – instead of taking magic, and bypassing the wills of people, animals, and nature itself, she asked for it. It was a fantastic way to show readers the difference between the good and evil characters.
Another of the main characters in The Shadow Queen is Kol, the prince of a neighboring kingdom who was thrust into a situation he wasn’t ready for. Forced to bargain with Queen Irina for the safety of his kingdom, he and Lorelai don’t begin their relationship under ideal circumstances. Of the three narrators, Kol was the most relatable. He was willing to do anything to save his kingdom, but doubted his ability to be more than the irresponsible second-born prince he has been his whole life. Oh! Did I mention that Kol is also part dragon? With both a human and dragon heart? His struggle to keep control of his dragon heart made his chapters that much more interesting. I honestly hope to see more Eldr in the books to follow.
The third and final narrator in this book is Queen Irina herself. She actually reminded me of Adelina from The Young Elites in that her decent into evil began when the people who were supposed to love her and take care of her slighted her instead. Her chapters were fascinating, showing the reader just how far she would go to win and keep a kingdom she believes is rightfully hers.
For my romance lovers: Redwine writes a genuinely touching and well developed love story between the Lorelai and Kol – this is no case of insta-love or mistaking lust for genuine feeling, they bond through their shared grief and fierce desire to see their respective kingdoms safe and prosperous. Kol also happens to be completely charming and witty, making him my first book boyfriend of 2017.
Overall, C.J. Redwine writes a captivating retelling of Snow White – taking a beloved fairy tale and making it completely her own, while managing to maintain enough elements of the original story for it to be recognizable. I thought that it was genius to have Irina bend subjects to her will by feeding them rotten apples and am beyond excited to see that Redwine will be writing the second book in this series featuring not another princess, but Rumplestiltskin.
My Takeaway: My first 5 star book of 2017, The Shadow Queen is an inventive retelling of Snow White that without a doubt belongs on my favorites shelf. Redwine takes a classic fairy tale and turns it completely on its head using dragons, magic, rotten apples instead of poisoned ones. One month is too long to wait for the next installment in this series!