I received this book for free from Publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine
Series: Ravenspire #1
Published by Balzer + Bray on February 16th, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, High Fantasy, Fairy Tale Retelling
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
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.
I’m a glutton for three things: fairy tale retellings, beautiful covers, and high fantasies that come with maps. So, obviously, I couldn’t help myself when it came to The Shadow Queen – also since this is an author who gets quite a bit of hype but I had yet to read. There were parts of this book that I enjoyed, but overall it wasn’t too impressive.
The Shadow Queen is a retelling of Snow White, where the princess – Lorelai – kicks freaking butt. In this version, the princess and her brother escaped from the evil queen after she took over the kingdom, and they’ve been on the run for 9 years. Lorelai, being the only other person with magic in the land, has been training her physical strength, endurance, and magical abilities like crazy, so that one day she can take back her kingdom and kill the queen.
So yeah: in theory, Lorelai is awesome because she is a fighter, a strategist, and a genuine inspiring leader. She doesn’t only want to defeat the queen to get her revenge – she actually wants to save all of the people who are suffering because of Irina’s rule. But, to be honest, the characters all kind of lacked a spark for me. I am such a character reader that having a strong connection and getting sucked in by a character’s voice is crucial for me to truly enjoy a book. But that never really happened with Lorelai or Kol (the other POV character). Though I admired her drive and her strength, maybe her voice was just too pure and good for me to truly be interested. I need some complexity!
The same goes for Kol. In theory Kol is cool because he’s a human who can morph into a freaking DRAGON. He’s also a devil-may-care prince suddenly thrust onto the throne after his parents and brother are killed in the war. He does actually gain some complexity later in the story due to Irina’s maneuvering against Lorelai (but I’ll spare you the spoilers). But his relationship with Lorelai is so obvious and pure that though I had no problem continuing to read about it, I wasn’t overly excited by it. And yeah, thinking about it, Kol was just as honorable and good-natured as Lorelai. Where is my complexity?
So this story has some cool elements. There are dragons, tons of magic, an intriguing evil villain, an awesome Huntsman storyline, classic Snow White elements, and the stakes are high. There’s a major character death quite near the beginning of the book that really gets you on the edge of your seat. And all of Irina’s acts against the kingdom are vivid and frightening. In that sense, it really is a clear battle of good versus evil where you want to keep reading just to be sure that good wins. It doesn’t always seem like it will.
But though it was easy enough to keep reading, I’m left feeling the book was pretty average. More good than bad, but still kind of eh. I think it has something to do with the magic that seems to come so easy to Lorelai and frankly doesn’t always make sense as to its boundaries and limitations. Her revenge plot also seems rather convoluted at times. And the romance never gave me any really big feels – even though it was kind of hate-to-love romance which is normally MY JAM. Finally, the main characters are just so good that it’s almost gross. Heh, my mind works in weird ways. But it is what it is.