You know the feeling where you love something so much that it’s nearly impossible to explain to other people? I’ve felt that way about people and experiences and books, the latest of which is The Shadow Queen. It’s the story of a girl named Lorelai, the crown princess of Ravenspire who was orphaned at a young age and currently remains in hiding with her brother Leo, and their companion guard Gabril. Lorelai has always been able to wield extremely powerful magic, and she’s been readying herself for the day that she’ll face the woman who took everything away from her and brought ruin and strife to her kingdom – her stepmother. As the day of their confrontation draws nearer, Lorelai is faced with heartbreaking choices, and obstacles that will challenge the strength of her heart.
If that sounds epic to you, then I’ve certainly done my job! The Shadow Queen is one hell of a series starter. I went into it, unaware that I was going to fall head over heels in love with Redwine’s latest book – and then I did. Irrevocably, madly in love. With the plot, both with its steady cadence in the telling and the unique spin on recognizable elements from the original Snow White tale. With the characters, particularly brave, determined, powerful Lorelai and clever, loyal, strong Kol. With the way it made me feel, also known as one hell of a roller coaster ride that looped from joy, grief, anger, shock, and terror multiple times. It was, quite simply, a masterpiece.
This statement is not one I say lightly, but it just feels like the truest possible thing I could say about The Shadow Queen: it is one of the best fairytale-inspired books I’ve ever read in my life. It was a clever, well-executed spin on a classic tale, following the adventures of characters that are all too easy to fall in love with. Redwine has accomplished something special in the span of one book, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what comes next in this series. (Bonus fact: This is a series of companion novels, all inspired by different fairytales and set in the same world. That’s extremely awesome and it means that this ends with a note of finality.)
What is your favorite Snow White retelling?
I'm really torn on this one. I could obviously choose The Shadow Queen, for the reasons stated above. I'd also like to spotlight Winter, one of the best series finales I've ever read. Marissa Meyer's spin on the Snow White tale is also quite creative, and I admired the incorporation of recognizable bits into her story! But I also have quite the soft spot for Once Upon a Time, and yes, I'm talking about the TV show. While it's certainly not perfect. it's also creative in how it reveals the stories of fairytale characters we all know and love. The stories of Snow White and of the Evil Queen are both really intriguing, and I quite like those plot arcs a lot! So, I guess I'm going to cheat and point out all three of these for my answer. (Because I can.)
The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine
Series: Ravenspire #1
Publisher: Balzer + Bray | Publication Date: February 16, 2016
Source: ARC downloaded from Edelweiss (Thanks!)
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.