Last weekend I started reading C.J. Redwine‘s The Shadow Queen which is a dark re-telling of Snow White. It is fantastic so I wanted to share it with y’all this weekend. Be sure you preorder your copy! It will be here Tuesday 😀
I received this book via Edelweiss. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of this review.The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine
Length: 400 pages
Reviewing eARC from Edelweiss
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 by C.J. Redwine starts like any fairy tale with “Once Upon a Time….” so I knew instantly that this was going to be a good book. Right?! Because what book can be bad if it starts like that?! *Please note sarcasm* Don’t get me wrong. This book is AMAZING!!!! BUT it is a very dark and twisted retelling of the classic Snow White. Seriously, in the prologue the evil queen is feeding ROTTEN apples to her subjects!
The princess at the young age of 8 stops her, but she pays a high price for it. Watching her father die along with anyone else in the room, Lorelai escapes with her younger brother and her father’s guard. The evil queen kills everyone that witnessed Lorelai’s betrayal with the vow that she will get Lorelai. 9 years later….Lorelai is still evading the Queen Irina and training to one day face her. She will take back her kingdom and she will save it from the cruelty and evil of Irina. But what will it cost her?
Snow White Like You’ve Never Seen Her
Lorelai Deiderich (aka Snow White) is one of those characters that sticks with you. She’s cunning, kind, ruthless when she needs to be, and loyal to those she loves. After her attempt to free her kingdom at 8, Lorelai went into hiding, but she’s been training to harness her magic ever since so that one day she can defeat Irina. She’s scared with good reason, yet will risk anything to keep her brother safe. She’s strong and passionate and I would NOT want to be on her bad side. She’s out for revenge and she will not rest until Irina is off the throne.
Irina (aka the Evil Queen) is not as evil as she seems. Yes she is powerful and she uses horrific means to reach that power, but the author humanizes her in a way that will make you sympathize with Irina. Something that I struggled with honestly. Irina is cruel, but not heartless. In fact she’s a woman scorned. Knowing that, her actions — however deplorable they may be — make sense. Her motive is to take back what was promised to her and she does that and more. The problem is the way in which she does it. Her vengeance is scary and she is unpredictable which makes her the perfect evil queen.
And then there is Kol, the newly crowned King of Eldr. His whole life he has not lived up to the high expectations of his father. When his parents and older brother are killed rather suddenly and Kol inherits the crown, he wants to prove his worth and save Eldr from the invading Orge army. Kol is kind, honorable, just, and brave. He fulfills not only the role of Snow White’s prince but also her huntsman. Kol seeks to make a deal with Irina: save his kingdom from the Orges and he will give her the money for food Ravenspire desperately needs. BUT Irina doesn’t want money. She wants him to bring her the heart of the lost princess.
My favorite character though is Leo, Lorelai’s younger brother. He’s spunky, full of life, and love for his older sister. He gives her confidence and a reason to fight. He is her rock and her confidante. He also brings levity to the story and I just love him!!!!
Heart-Breaking, Gut-Wrenching Action
C.J. Redwine does a fantastic job of weaving her original fantasy world with the essential elements and story of the classic Snow White. While this made it slightly predictable at times, the overall effect, for me at least, was nothing short of brilliant! I loved the aspects of the original (like the characteristics of the characters) carrying over into this new high fantasy world. There are orges and mardushkas and dragons to name just a few of the new elements.
But my favorite part of the book is the driving, fast-paced plot. Lorelai has a plan in motion at the start of the story to bring the queen down, but after a devastating encounter with the queen, Lorelai’s plans go out the window and a new plan forms. I honestly had a hard time sitting the book down for any length of time. I NEEDED to know what would happen next!
If you know the story of Snow White, then you already know how the book will end, BUT it is well worth the read! C.J. Redwine has created a new world full of adventure, suspense and swoon-worthy romance. I laughed, I cried (and not just a few tears, like full-blown sobs) and cheered for the characters. I was fully invested in the story and happy with its conclusion. How often do I get to say that?! If you enjoy a good retelling, high fantasy, or a sweet romance, I highly recommend you get a copy of this book ASAP!