Publication Date: February 16, 2016
Hardcover, 387 pages, Balzer + Bray
Genres: YA, Fantasy, Fairytale Retelling
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.
C.J. Redwine was disappointed with the Snow White and the Huntsman movie, so she decided to create her own Snow White retelling. I can definitely say that the storyline in Redwine’s book was better than that particular movie, though unfortunately, there is no Chris Hemsworth in The Shadow Queen.
The characters in this retelling do not strictly follow the Snow White rules. Lorelai isn’t named Snow; Kol isn’t a true huntsman and is, instead, a dragon; and both the evil queen and Lorelai have magic. I definitely enjoyed Redwine’s twist on the world. I think some fairytale retellings can often be too stuck to their namesakes, whereas this one offers a fresh batch of characters and events to create a semi-unique plot. Plus, dragons are cool.
All of the main characters in this story, minus one, really connected with me. I could feel their pain, and I even experienced some of their grief, despite, at times, never actually meeting the characters, like Kol’s family for instance. Oh, and I need to have a serious talk with Ms. Redwine about a certain cruel action she performed against one particular innocent and loveable character. (Why, Redwine?! Why?!)
However much I enjoyed the main protagonists, Queen Irina wasn’t someone I could empathize with. While I felt she was more than an evil dictator, I couldn’t really see how exactly she was more than that title. Her character could have been delved into some more to help her personality development out; although, I didn’t really like her chapters, so I’m not sure how much more I would have liked to hear her wicked thoughts.
The plotline of the book was, because this is a retelling, somewhat predictable. The princess fights the evil queen and either wins or loses or lives to fight another day (I won’t give away spoilers). However, I have to say I was a little disappointed by how quickly Lorelai realized her true potential and how powerful she actually is. Additionally, the magic system and how Irina and Lorelai’s magic works just needed a little fleshed out. I wasn’t sure why/how Irina and Lorelai were performing some of their tricks. But overall, it’s a solid plotline with a fun world that Redwine can continue to play in.
While there were some small parts that had me a tad confused, this book is a great addition to a growing list of retelling books. It’s unique enough to stand on its own, but it can still draw in readers who aren’t sure they want to dive into a completely new fantasy world. And, like I mentioned, there’s dragons. What more could a reader ask for?
*Note: I purchased a copy of this book for myself. This in no way affected my opinion/review.