Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine

The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine
Release Date - February 16, 2016
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages - 400 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received for honest review from the publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
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 everything I wanted Snow White and the Huntsman to be. It's romantic, twists the Snow White tale by giving her some agency, and adds more than a touch of magic with it's fantasy spin. It retains it's fairytale feel even well embracing the fantasy elements that have been woven in.

Lorelai was surprising. She's someone who is born to lead and be a Queen. Both she and Queen Irina are these powerful women with these fierce powers. They are formidable and equal which creates a tantalizingly level playing field. This is a clash of two driven women who each feel justified in their actions, even if it comes at a steep price. This is what I have looked for in a Snow White adaptation and it ended up being even more satisfying in book form.

Queen Irina is, perhaps surprisingly, the most fascinating character to grace these pages. She's a villain who believes what she is doing is justified and deserved. As she grows more and more desperate to hold on to her power, the lengths she is willing to go to become more sinister. I would devour an entire book about her, and her complex relationship with her loyal servant, Viktor. Villains who are willing to sacrifice anything for their agenda are the most terrifying because they have nothing to lose. Combined this with her blind justification and she's a compelling presence in this story. C.J. Redwine knows that a villain must pull some sympathy, and there is a little glimmer of that within these pages. Irina has plenty of chances to make different choices, she just refuses to back down regardless of the cost. She has plenty of chances to atone for what she's done, but it doesn't interest her in the least. It's easy to play 'what if' with the events that unravel because it would have changed the outcome so significantly.

Combining the huntsman and Prince into one character created a delicious tension that added to the fairytale feel of the romance. The romance is the element that felt most like a fairytale. It was romantic, fraught with high stakes, and the stuff of legend. It's the type of romance you could see as a tale told throughout the kingdom and beyond. This aspect was only helped by the fact that Prince Kol is genuinely princely. He's honourable, determined, and fair. Even when he takes on the huntsman role, it is done in a way that only highlights what a perfect fit he would be for Lorelai.

The star of this novel, however, is Sasha. She's a sassy, humourous, fiercely protective white gyrfalcon whose personality leaps off the page. Whether she is fighting at Lorelai's side, or taunting with visions of what she considers delicious food, this gyrfalcon will win over your heart. She provides so many of the lighter moments in the novel which are paced perfectly against the action and romance.

Those who like their fairytales to be combined with magic and dragons will immediately fall in love with richly vivid world. The Shadow Queen is a wonderful set up to a series of companion novels as it's easy to get lost within it's pages. I anticipate that the next fairytale C.J Redwine twists will be just as enchanting as The Shadow Queen, and I eagerly await returning to this magical world that she has created.

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