Published by Balzer + Bray on February 16th 2016
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.
If you follow my reading tastes you’ve probably noticed that fairy-tale retellings make up a large number of my read books and my TBR. Fairytales are archetypes that authors love to put their own spin on and as a literature major I guess I’ve always found that fascinating. The only thing about these retellings is that they’re never truly successful unless the author makes the story their own. CJ Redwine makes it her own.
Redwine’s THE SHADOW QUEEN is clearly recognizable as the Snow White story. From the description of the main character to the villain and the huntsman, the book hits all notes for the tale. However it’s not that simple. From the world to the rules of magic and the rest of the characters, Redwine weaves her own mythology between the threads of the original tale so that one becomes indistinguishable from the other.
I have a hard time picking a favorite character here. The MC, Lorelai, is Snow White in the way I wish she were told from the beginning. She has so much more agency than the original, which is what I noticed most about her from the beginning. Lorelai takes so much in her own hands, more than even a lot of YA heroines usually do.
On the other hand her love interest is one of the most interesting characters I’ve read in a while. His dragon self, his two hearts, his backstory, it all makes for a character with so much to look at that he is more than JUST the main character’s love interest.
Irina, our Villain is officially one of my favorite all time villains. She is ten kinds of evil with a backstory that doesn’t make her redeemable but in fact makes her a little bit worse. That said her backstory and her own love interest makes her a more 3 dimensional character rather than a cardboard cut out with VILLAIN painted across its forehead.
The world building in this book is glorious. I love that everything in this world has a heart, that the magic appeals to that. It’s a very original way to make the world and magic system work together in an organic way. I would love to see more who the two work together when the world is the way it should be, with a rightful heir on the throne.
This is one of my favorite books I’ve read this year and I’m so mad at myself for putting it off for so long. The characters are wonderfully written, the world crafted with love, and the writing style exactly what I expected and love from CJ.
I HIGHLY recommend this book to fans of fairytale retellings, dragons, and fantasy.
What did you think about THE SHADOW QUEEN? Share your thoughts in the comments.
From my shelf to yours,