The Shadow Queen
Balzer + Bray
[February 23, 2016]
ARC from publisher/egalley 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.
First, let me remind you about my C.J. Redwine bias - I love her and I love her books and I've worked with her. I also love her editor and agent as I love pretty much everything they touch. So, bias.
Anyway, this was the first book I finished when I went abroad and it was the first one I knew I was packing. I read the first half while on trains to and from Bath, so I had to look up and admire the view every five minutes, then read the second half while cuddled in bed the next day. And oh what a good choice it was!
I loved Lorelai. Her tenacity and her intelligence were remarkable. I also adored her dedication to her family and her cause. She was never willing to give up, no matter the circumstances. She wasn't a perfect heroine, but she was trying to be the best she could be and that's always admirable. And Kol was another fascinating character, especially with certain events in the story. I loved getting to look at these two characters who had the weight of kingdoms on their shoulders and how they handled it.
The story itself was also remarkable. Redwine bent and twisted the original Snow White story - which is one of my least favorite fairy tales honestly - into something remarkable and beautiful and empowering. She also refused to pull punches in this story - there was a scene I read on the train and didn't see coming at all and had to close the book for a while because I was in public. There's always a concern with fairy tale retellings that they'll try to stick too closely to the story and it will become predictable; sometimes it's fine and the execution makes predictability easy to ignore, but other times it only loosely plays with elements of the original. Redwine did both and it worked SO well.
And the romance - because obviously, we have to talk about the romance in a fairy tale retelling. Man I loved it. Kol and Lorelai have a very complicated relationship from the start so Redwine gave them a rather remarkable story. It's the kind I always wanna see more of - but I don't wanna say too much for fear of spoilers.
Basically, I love C.J. Redwine and she continues to blow me away. I'm so excited for the next book!