Book Review: The Shadow Queen

The Shadow Queen (Ravenspire #1)

by C.J. Redwine.

the shadow queen Princess Lorelai has a great life- a loving family, a kingdom that dotes on her, budding magical power. Until her mother dies, and her father remarries. Her new stepmother seems charming at first, but is soon revealed to be an evil witch. In the disaster that claims her father’s life, Lorelai escapes with her brother and a trusted guard. She spends the next decade planning and building her strength (both physically and magically) in order to finally face the evil queen. When the king from a neighboring land (who also happens to be part dragon) visits the queen to beg magical aid against an invasion, she traps him into a pact: the princess’ heart in exchange for her help. And so things start coming to a head.

This in an interesting retelling of Snow White. There are enough recognizable elements from the fairytale that’d you catch on pretty soon if you didn’t know going in, but not so many that it’s bashing you over the head with it (no glass coffin, no dwarves, no crone). You’ve still got your standard evil queen with a magic mirror routine. But many of the elements that are there are used in new ways. The huntsman is part dragon. The apples are used by the queen on everyone but the princess. Even the significance of wanting the princess’ heart has new meaning.

Things I liked: Lorelai very rarely needs rescuing. She’s a strong, smart character, more often the one coming up with the plan than not. This is refreshing break from the normal swoon-and-wait fairytale trope. I liked the bit of Russian/Eastern European flavor with some of the names and titles. I liked that the magic wasn’t just pretty or easy. The author allowed things to go a bit dark when needed, which again is refreshing. I liked that Lorelai had a brother, and that the author didn’t try to fit in dwarves somewhere with all of this other craziness going on.

Things I didn’t like: the evil queen’s backstory/motivation just fell flat for me. The world building also was a bit weak- I didn’t understand why, when the queen has magic tendrils everywhere to sense things, she would still need communication towers? For what? Also, you guys know I love me some dragons, but the book never addressed a very important issue: are these dragon shapeshifters even *ahem* compatible with humans? Physically and genetically?

As for the love story… I don’t know. I liked both characters individually. And it was part insta-attraction, but also part slow build, which is better than most YA love stories. They had some good banter. I think the fact that events in the book wrapped up rather quickly and they didn’t get a chance to discuss what they were or what’s next kind of soured it for me. It’s not really a happy ending if you skip that part.

But overall, I still enjoyed this book. It’s my understanding that each book in this series will focus on a different kingdom in this world, so I’d guess Lorelai and Kol’s story is pretty much done, though it wouldn’t surprise me to seem them pop up as secondary characters in future books. Either way, I’m interested to see where this series goes, and which fairytale will be up for retelling next.

I give it 3.5/5 stars.

Buy From Amazon

The Shadow Queen

Continue Reading

Recent Reads

Let’s kick off the week with some book talk. Here’s what I’ve been reading recently: The Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard. This YA series gets a lot of buzz online, so I thought I’d finally pick it up and see what the fuss was about. The world is a mix of future dystopia and fantasy, which I found really interesting. Mare is a Red (lower, working class) who suddenly discovers she has magical powers, which until now have always been exclusive to the Silvers (ruling class). This thrusts her into a world of politics and power she’s unfamiliar with, […]

Continue Reading

Book Review: Stray

Stray (Four Sisters #1) by Elissa Sussman. Princess Aislynn wants nothing more than to follow the Path she was born to: complete her schooling, attend her Introduction Ball, dance with the suitors her advisor and parents have chosen for her, get married, have children, etc. At least that’s what she tells herself. But the magic inside her- born, all girls are told, from wicked and selfish desires- refuses to be silenced or controlled. When disaster strikes at her Introduction Ball, Aislynn finds herself on a Path she could never have imagined. Determined to make the best of this new life, […]

Continue Reading

Recent Reads

Time for some book talk! Here’s what’s been edging through my reading pile lately: The Air Awakens series by Elise Kova. Humble library apprentice Vhalla doesn’t know she has magic, until she unwittingly uses it to save the life of Crown Prince Aldrik. Then she’s whisked semi-unwillingly into the world of magic, empire politics and uncomfortable proximity to Aldrik. This is pretty typical YA fantasy, but that doesn’t stop me from highly enjoying it. I tore through the first two books in this series in a day each, and am now impatiently awaiting the release of book 3 next week […]

Continue Reading

Book Review: Magonia

Magonia (#1) by Maria Dahvana Headley. Let me just take a minute to point out that gorgeous cover. Beautiful, no? And a good reminder on the importance of cover design. I had never heard of this book or author, but came across this cover on Pinterest or somewhere, and had to look it up. And then read it. And I’m glad I did, because it is a unique book. Aza Ray has suffered from a mysterious lung disease since she was 1 year old. The prognosis is not good- it’s gotten steadily worse over the years, and doctors are surprised […]

Continue Reading

Book Review: Defy

Defy (#1) by Sara B. Larson. Defy is the story of Alexa Hollon, a girl with preternatural fighting skills in a male-dominated world and country at war. When her parents are killed, tween Alexa and her twin brother know it’s just a matter of time until the king’s men find them – forcing him into the army and her into a breeding house. So with some quick thinking, they disguise her as a boy and she joins the army, too. However, if you are expecting a Mulan-esque story, you are out of luck. This is it’s own creature. Fast forward […]

Continue Reading

Book Review: Grave Mercy

Grave Mercy

Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1) by Robin LaFevers. If you’re looking for a blend of historical fiction, fantasy, intrigue and romance through a young adult filter, this book is for you. It’s the story of Ismae, a young girl in late 1400’s Brittany. Horribly scarred from birth, Ismae has always thought she was cursed. But after escaping an abusive arranged marriage, she is taken in by the nuns at the convent of St. Mortain. She discovers that her scars and certain other talents mark her as a daughter of St. Mortain (aka. the old world god of Death), and […]

Continue Reading