The Shadow Queen

The Shadow Queen


Title: The Shadow Queen

Author: C.J. Redwine

Series: Ravenspire, #1

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Release Date: February 16th 2016

Rating:

Four Stars

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…

…The Plot

Irina’s smile disappeared. “I don’t require all of the princess, huntsman.”
A chill raced over Kol’s skin. “I don’t understand. Our oath said—”
She leaned forward, her eyes pinning Kol where he stood. “You agreed to do whatever I asked of you. And I am asking you to bring me the princess’s heart”

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.

“It was time Irina paid the price for all she’d taken.
It was time Lorelai stepped out of the shadows and became the queen Ravenspire needed—the queen Leo and Gabril had always believed she could be.”

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.

…The Characters

“A warrior doesn’t focus on the odds stacked against her. She focuses on her heart, on her will to face the evil in her world and defeat it, and then she finds a way to do it.”

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.

“He grabbed for the memory of his mother’s laughter, for his sister’s smile, for anything that could give him a weapon to keep the rage at bay, but the images faded into darkness, and Kol was alone with the terrible beat of his dragon’s heart.”

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.

“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the most powerful of them all?”
The mirror’s opaque surface swirled into a gray mist and then slowly resolved into Irina’s own reflection—pale blond hair, a delicate face, an d eyes as blue as the summer sky.
The queen smiled.

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.

…The Setting

Gathering her power, the queen whispered, “Tvor” and poured her intentions, her desires, into the word as the heat in her palms exploded into Lady Kiffen and the tree, wrapped around the heart of each, and then joined them as one.
The woman’s back arched, and the cords of her neck stood out. She opened her mouth to scream, but choked instead. Her cheeks bulged, her eyes grew wide with panic, and for one long moment, she didn’t breathe. But then, her jaw dropped open, wider than should be possible, and a perfectly formed apple slowly tumbled out of the mouth and into the queen’s hand.”

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.

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11 thoughts on “The Shadow Queen

  1. Great review! As you know, I’m a newbie in the retelling genre, but I want to try this out more. Some people adviced me to read that book, but I think I want to try and get to other, better retellings before this one, since I feel like there are some that can completely make me fall in love with the genre. I wouldn’t want to try with something like that, and then be disappointed! But I really am curious about a Snow White retelling, I love the original story 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Marie 😀
      Well if your just starting out in the retelling genre this is one of the book I’d recommend you start with. But yeah there are better ones. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer is my all-time favourite, a mixture of fairy tale retelling and sci-fi, so I’d definitely recommend that series to you as well! And I think if any series was going to make you fall in love with the genre it’d be that one.
      The Shadow Queen did stay close to the original story, just retelling it with new characters and a new spin the tale, if you liked Snow White I reckon you’ll enjoy this book as well 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh my god yes! I cannot wait for you to start The Lunar Chronicles. I really really hope you enjoy the series and yes, definitely let me know what you think of it 😀
        And yes, if you need more recommendations once you’ve sorted out you to-read list let me know (speaking of I really need to sort out my to-read list too!)

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Love your review! I keep seeing this book but I’m not sure if I want to read it. I was never huge on Snow White so it never really intrigued me enough. I was always a fan of Beauty and the Beast. :).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Cat! I would recommend this book, even if your not a fan of Snow White. After Alice in Wonderland (which is my all-time favourite fairytale) Beauty and the Beast is definitely my second favourite 😀 but to be honest any YA book that’s a fairy tale retelling goes on my to-read list.

      Like

  3. Great review! I’m curious about this one since I don’t think I’ve read a Snow White retelling before, but I am SO DONE with apple covers… or just light-coloured covers with an object in the middle (think the whole Red Queen series), I admit I might have shove it off my mind because of that. I do like the word ‘Ravenspire’, though (look at me here just admiring made-up words, haha). 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Reg! It’s a good book, and I enjoyed the plot and the characters but it’s nothing unique in terms of fairy tale retellings. I’ve read a few other Snow White retellings, that and Beauty and the Beast seem to be the most popular ones I think, and now you mentioned about the apple on the cover I just realised most of them have an apple on the cover 🙂
      Yeah a lot of cover designs seem to be minimalist right now, maybe that’s a trend that will soon be ending. It works for some books I think but for others it would have been nice if there was more to the cover.
      Anyway I’d definitely recommend this book, it’s a good one to start with if you haven’t read any other Snow White retellings before!

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