Title: The Shadow Queen (Ravenspire #1)
Author: C.J. Redwine
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: February 16th, 2016
Standalone/Series: First book in the Ravenspire series
Genre: Fantasy – Retelling – Young Adult
My rating in stars: 4,5 stars
My rating in words: LOVED this book
What it’s about:
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.
“Her skin was as white as snow, her lips as red as blood, and her long hair as black as ebony.”
Well, this book made me actually love Snow White, my least-favourite of all the Fairytale princesses. So that’s saying something!
Let’s be honest: in the fairytale Snow White is pretty useless: she hides from the Evil Queen, she needs to be protected by the dwarfs, she takes food from strangers and she needs the prince to save her. Lorelai is nothing like that. She’s pretty badass and can take care of herself. Yes, she’s been in hiding ever since the Evil Queen killed her father and took her kingdom and she’s been on the run with her little brother. But she’s been biding her time – stealing food from the queen to give to the poor, practicing her magic and getting stronger until she can face the Queen again and win. If that’s not an amazing heroine, I don’t know who is.
I loved Lorelai and her story from the very first chapter. Like I said, mostly because Lorelai is an amazing character, but she’s not the only one. This book is filled with so many really great characters that it’s hard to say who I loved most. Though the answer is probably Leo, Lorelai’s little brother. He’s funny, enthusiastic and a bit reckless and I loved the relationship between the two siblings. They like annoying each other, but they are also fiercely protective of each other and I just loved that. But then there’s also Sasha, Lorelai’s bird who she has a telepathic connection with that is so hilarious. And there’s Gabril, the former captain of the guard who gave up his life and his family to protect the royal siblings and keep them safe from the Evil Queen. They are such a fun group together and I instantly loved their antics.
I also loved, loved Kol and I though he was brought into the story in such an original way. The love interest is a shape-shifting dragon who becomes the Huntsman in this Snow White retelling, how cool is that? I loved that we got scenes from Kol’s POV as well, as he has his own story to tell and his own problems before he ever meets Lorelai and their stories intertwine. He is a fully-developed character and not just a one-dimensional love interest, which I applaud. This makes the romance so nice, perfectly paced and believable.
Even though it’s a retelling of a very popular fairytale, the story still manages to be unpredictable. It has the essence of Snow White, but it’s still it’s own story. It’s also written in a beautiful and natural way that got me completely invested in the story. This book made me happy, it made me cry and gave me all the feels. (I cried actual tears during one scene which really wrecked me – I’m still not completely over it). I also thought the plot was perfectly paced and I loved the world. I’m so glad we will get more books set in this world.
The only tiny little nitpick I have is the magic system. Even though the rules were kind of explained, I still found it a little too vague and not fleshed out enough. But I loved the book enough to just kind of roll with it anyway.
Overall I thought this was a really fun and super enjoyable addition to the retelling genre. My favourite Snow White retelling so far and definitely in my top 5 list of fairytale retellings in general. A highly recommendable read for anyone who is looking for a fun and magical fairy tale adventure.
“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 smirked at Leo, who raised a brow and then glared up at the sky. “The two of you are conspiring against me again, aren’t you?”
“She just wants to share her lunch with you.”
Leo blanched. “Last time she shared, I got a face full of rabbit guts from above. Tell your bird to keep her victims to herself.”
“Gabril’s voice was strong and sure. “I believe in you, and I’ve fought for you, because in a world full of people who crumble before an evil too terrifying to comprehend, you put up your fists and fight.”
“Hastily, Lorelai swept into an elegant curtsy – no small feat considering het current attire – and said the first thing that popped into her head.
“You look most fetching today, my lord.”
The large Eldrian boy snorted. Kol’s eyes widened, and his smile froze. And Leo – curse his miserable hide – made the kind of strangled choking noise that meant he was trying desperately not to laugh.”