Title: The Shadow Queen
Author: C.J. Redwine
Series: Ravenspire, #1
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: 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 neighbouring 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.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
My Thoughts On…
Lorelai has been on the run from Irina since the night her father was murdered and her kingdom taken. Since then she has hidden her magic and done what she can for her people, though it seems little in the face of the starvation and toil they are facing under Irina’s reign. Lorelai knows she needs to take her throne back but she doesn’t feel ready yet, not when Irina is so powerful and Lorelai can barely practice her magic.
But then, when she runs into Irina and nearly loses her life, she knows she cannot afford to wait any longer. From that moment Lorelai is done hiding. She knows the Queen will work out she is alive and she plans to take their war directly to Irina before she has the time to prepare a counterattack.
As the youngest son Kol never expected to take the throne of Eldr but when his parents and older brother are slaughtered by the ogres on the front lines of their war he is forced to bear a responsibility he has no training for or knowledge of. Kol has been given a kingdom on the brink of destruction and, in order to defeat the ogres terrorizing his people, he needs magic. He travels to Ravenspire to plead with Irina, thinking to offer her food to help her people in exchange for her magic to defeat to ogres. But Irina has another plan. Aware that Lorelai is alive once more in exchange for her help with the ogres she wants Kol to take Lorelai’s heart and bring it to her.
However when Kol finds Lorelai he realises she is the same girl who saved him and his friends in one of the border towns of Ravenspire. Unable to kill her he goes back to Irina with a deer’s heart, hoping to trick her, but the queen sees through his lies. Meanwhile Lorelai is slowly gathering her magic, taking down the queen’s allies and supplies hoping to weaken Irina before facing her once again.
Lorelai has spent her life on the run since Irina took her kingdom and her father’s life, and as such she has had very little training in what it means to be a princess. Instead she was taught how to fight, how to defend herself, and how to take back her throne. She knows very little of the courtly ways she will have to use once she defeats Irina.
Her magic is powerful, possibly more power than Irina, but Lorelai has not had the time or a safe place to practise with it as much as she would like. Her guardian fears Irina would be able to track her if Lorelai reveals her magic too close to the Ravenspire boarders. For years Lorelai has only had her brother, Leo, and her guardian, Gabril. She loves the two of them and relies on them in little ways each day; she would do anything to save them.
Kol is an interesting character. Before his parents died he was largely irresponsible, getting kicked out of school after school, throwing wild parties in his parent’s castle. But when he parents and brother are killed leaving him on the throne he changes. He is determined to do what he thinks will make his father proud of him, to make up for all the mistakes he made in the past.
Everything Kol does and everything he agrees to is to help his people, to save them from the ogres. When he is unable to kill Lorelai, and knowing it could mean his death f he goes back to Irina without the princesses heart, all he does is beg her to save his people. Even without his human heart Kol is still a good person, and strong, he resists killing Lorelai as long as he can even though that is his only command from the queen.
I really liked Irina’s character. She was actually given the most back-story and motivation throughout the whole story.. She felt slighted by her uncle and her father after her younger sister was allowed to marry before her, and she feels her sister took the life which should be Irina’s. It was that slight which slowly poisoned Irina against her family and against Ravenspire. Everything she does she does to be the most powerful. She doesn’t believe love has any place in her heart although there was a time when she felt a connection to Lorelai. They both have the same magic, and Irina could have seen the princess as her daughter until she was betrayed.
We see, and hear, a lot about Lorelai’s world, her home kingdom of Ravenspire, the kingdom where her mother and Irina originally came from, Kol’s kingdom at war with the ogres. However most of the time we are told and not shown. The fact that Irina is sucking magic from the earth and the fact that the villagers are starving is all told to us by Lorelai that it is what’s happening there’s nothing we’re shown that really backs that up. I think Redwine tried to build up too much of the world in the first novel and as a result there were parts that felt undeveloped.
We didn’t ever get much of a background into Lorelai or Irina or their relationship before Irina took the kingdom of Ravenspire and killed Lorelai’s father. There was a prologue but that was literally it. After that it wasn’t brought up again and I would have liked to see the history between Lorelai and Irina explored more. I think it would have made the story a lot more interesting in places.
As far as fairytale retellings go The Shadow Queen wasn’t the worse I’d ever read, not by a long shot, but it wasn’t the best either. There just wasn’t anything really unique; the story itself was good, and the characters likeable, it just felt very generic, like the author had simply followed a template for a YA fairytale retelling novel and published that.
What did you think of The Shadow Queen? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.