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.
The Shadow Queen is a retelling of the fairytale we all know -and probably love- namely, Snow White. C.J. Redwine tells the story of Snow White but uses a different setting and background story. In this version if the fairytale, Snow White posesses the same magic as the Evil Queen and is actually related to her.
Lorelai Diederich, first princess of Ravenspire meets Irina after her mother’s untimely death. Irina, the Evil Queen in this version, is Lorelai’s aunt and set to marry her father. Everything seems to go well for a long while after the wedding. The kingdom is prosperous. Lorelai’s family seems to have refound their happiness and the soldiers protecting them adore the new queen. Even Lorelai has to admit to liking her stepmother. Until she begins to notice strange things, that is. By using her magic, the one things she has in common with her aunt, Lorelai manages to break the curse Irina seems to hold over Ravenspire.
Clear of bewitchment, the king yells for the capture of the traiter but Lorelai’s reckless plan fails. Irina turns the palace into a weapon, killing everyone who dares to turn against her, including the king.
With the aid of the Head of the Royal Guard, Gabril, Lorelai and her brother escape the palace and go on the run.
8 years later, Lorelai and her brother Leo are ready to fight for their country. Lorelai has practiced her magic use and is ready to use it in battle. Or so Gabril thinks.
Unable to overcome her fear of failing once again, Lorelai tries everything she knows about fighting before having to resort to magic. But this comes to cost her. More than she ever dared to imagine.
Unaware of her stepchildren being alive still, Irina faces the consequences of her magic use which is too much and far too frequently. Her magic robbs the lands of it fertility, the people of their wealth and strangers of their hearts. In order to restore her health, Irina steals the youth of prisoners in the hopes of extending her life and healing her aching heart. But nothing works. Her heart remains an aching muscle and every spell she uses weakens her even more.
On the other side of the world, Prince Kolvanismir celebrates his success in getting expelled from the royal academy once again after locking his head master into his toilet closet. But due to an Ogre war raging on his country’s boarders, his parents come to die along with his brother, turning him into the new King. Kol, desperate to safe his country, turns to Ravenspire for help. He needs magic to force the Ogres back to where they came from and the only one who can help him is Irina.
Believe me when I say that this set-up to the retelling of Snow White is pretty epic. Lorelai is fierce, snarky, feisty and a badass warrior. Being the rightful heir to the throne of Ravenspire makes her dangerous. Being a Mardushka (a magic user) even more so. It makes her poisonous to everyone who tries to defy her but instead of using her power to control those who oppose her, she works with kindness. Yes, she can kick some serious ass and will threaten you if she has to but she wouldn’t hurt a fly. As long as it didn’t try to hurt her, that is.
Kol, too, is a great character. He’s half human / half dragon and is able to shift between the two beings at command. But even his dragon form is not enough to safe his country from the Ogres that invade it. He desperately needs Irina’s help and that makes him naive. He innocently believes that Irina would do anything to safe her people from starvation. That pure belief in her goodness of heart gets him into more and more trouble.
Irina…. I don’t know. I really didn’t like her character and it had nothing to do with her being the villain. I usually love villain stories and reading from their POV but it felt like the writer was trying to create ways to make the reader feel sorry for Irina but it didn’t work. It ended up being a mix of her being outright evil but with a little goodness sprinkled on top. That just didn’t work for me. If she’s the villain make her epically evil OR give her a just reason for being like this. Don’t use both.
As for the story, the beginning is really good. It’s thrilling, it’s action-packed… It’s pretty damn good until you reach the middle of the book. In the first part, the twists and hits keep coming your way until your mind is spinning and your heart will tear itself to pieces with feels. You’ll end up bawling and screaming because you can’t deal anymore. That’s how bad it gets…
But then the story goes down hill. There’s a high level of repetitive twists and climaxes.
Kol, now turned huntsman, keeps getting manipulated by the Queen and every single time Lorelai sends him back to betray Irina, he gets caught and sent back to kill the princess. It’s a whole lot of going back and forth between the Capitol and wherever Lorelai is. Also, between Kol being somewhat human and not. C.J. Redwine keeps using the same climaxes in her story which makes it predictable.
I was so exhausted by the story at some point and not in a good way. The thrill I felt when I read the first part was gone. My mind went blank during the second part of the book. I expected the twists. I knew what would happen next and wasn’t suprised when Kol was -yet again- taken over by Irina.
I’m not saying it’s bad or that you shouldn’t read it because it is worth it but the series needs some room to mature. C. J. Redwine is skilled at creating suspense and tension but she doesn’t quite manage to pull through on that. The Queen’s plans don’t all unfold but mostly fall away between the lines of the story. It leaves you hanging… and that’s a real bummer because this story has so much potential.
I give this book 3 stars.
Like I said, the beginning was really amazing. I loved it and went through it very quickly but the last part lost its appeal and made it a little draggy. I’m looking forward to see what happens in the second installment of this series.