The Shadow Queen: Review

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The first book in the Ravenspire series, The Shadow Queen, by C.J. Redwine, is a fantastical retelling of the Snow White fairytale. With more than just a poisoned princess and cruel witch of a queen, The Shadow Queen promises grand magic, majestic dragons, and a princess who doesn't need saving.

Goodreads summary:

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.

Lorelai is a pretty likable character as far as princesses go. She's intelligent and strong and doesn't need a prince to save her. Which is why I thought it odd that Kol was brought into the picture so quickly as her romantic interest. As far as huntsmen go, Redwine gave Kol an interesting twist, and he was a pretty lovable king. The main characters in The Shadow Queen were all fairly likable, but the supporting cast was mediocre at best. If the story was only about Lorelai and Kol, I would have been satisfied without the rest.

Redwine built up a fantastical world filled with magic, dragons, ogres, and the like. But it didn't feel particularly grounded to me. The magic incantors that Lorelai and Irina utter aren't believable (they say the spell word and then what the spell commands, even though that's really redundant). In the heat of the moment, where Lorelai is faced with some pretty intense challenges, the magic just seems very convenient. What's the point of spending an extra four seconds on commanding your spell after you've already cast it, when you're in a life-threatening situation? She's already athletic with impressive speed and combat ability, that the magic makes her almost superhuman, and since I want to root for her, I just don't think she needs it or needs to depend on it. But I guess in a world with fire-breathing dragons, things don't really need to be relatable.

I enjoyed the subtle nods to the Snow White fairy tale, and I thought The Shadow Queen was a decent read, given its rushed plot and some two dimensional characters. It is, after all, the first in a series, so perhaps Redwine intends for this first book to just set up something greater. We'll just have to wait and see.

I rate The Shadow Queen 3/5 stars!

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