I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way affected my opinion of the book or my review below.
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.
No. 1: I adore unique fairytale retellings.
No. 2: I am obsessed with dragons.
Did this book have both of these things? Why yes. YES IT DID. I loved C.J. Redwine’s Defiance trilogy so I was super excited to get my hands on a copy of her newest. And it was a Snow White retelling! Hooray! I love fairytale retellings, BUT they have to be unique. If it follows the original too closely, I will throw that book to the side faster than you can say chocolate chip pancakes. Why chocolate chip pancakes? Because I just ate some that’s why.
The Shadow Queen had the perfect retelling balance – unique, yet familiar.
The actual plot line is actually pretty similar to the Snow White story we all know and love. But the characters and the magic system were so unique and well-done. I loved that Lorelai’s powers were connected to nature. I loved the give and take of the magic. I loved how there were clear boundaries and how she had to tell the land that she meant it no harm, unlike the evil queen who used and abused her powers. Lorelai was a really interesting main character. I loved her passion and grim determination. She is scared of facing Queen Irina, but she knows that it has to be done and that it’s her responsibility to take her down. She accepts her fate even though Irina is terrifyingly strong and it’s likely that she’ll fail.
Lorelai’s commitment to her kingdom was impressive. The balance of courage & fear was perfect.
I also loved Lorelai’s family. She doesn’t have much left, but the people she does have are incredible. She has her younger brother, Leo and a guard, Gabril who helped them escape the night that everything fell apart. Lorelai’s brother is amazing!! I loved how dramatic he was. The banter between the two was so perfect for a sibling relationship. And Gabril was amazing. Definitely a father-type figure. I loved how much he fought with himself over protecting Lorelai and knowing what her destiny was. He believed in her, yet it was clear that it killed him to have to send her into danger.
Lorelai’s little family gave me all the warm fuzzies.
Okay I can’t wait any longer. We have to talk about the Draconi. The dragon people!! Yep, you read that right. DRAGON. PEOPLE. The Draconi are a race of people who have two hearts, their human heart and their dragon heart and they can shift into dragons whenever they feel like it. Um excuse me while I screech with excitement. Please please please can I be a Draconi??? This was by far my favorite aspect of the book. Seriously why don’t more books have dragons in them??? I loved how the human heart balanced out the fierceness of the dragon heart. Kol, king of the dragon people, was another very interesting character. I loved that at first he was immature, but he definitely rose to the occasion when he had no other choice.
This book has dragons. Do you really need another reason to read it?
Okay, so a couple of minor complaints. The first is the telepathy. Once Lorelai’s magic touched someone’s heart, she had a connection with their mind which allowed her to communicate with them via telepathy. She could communicate with her bird, Sasha this way and then eventually with another person. I just have never been a fan of telepathy. It always feels a bit cheesy to me so I didn’t really buy into it.
The telepathy annoyed me a bit.
And my other tiny complaint is the relationship. This isn’t really a complaint actually. I didn’t find anything wrong with the relationship, but it never gave me any feels. I’m definitely an emotional reader. I want to feel everything that’s happening and the romance here just didn’t do it for me. But that doesn’t mean other people won’t love it. I think it was developed and it definitely didn’t feel insta-lovey to me. I just didn’t really jive with it. Perhaps I was more interested in the fire-breathing DRAGON PEOPLE?!?!
The romance didn’t give me any feels.
Overall, I really enjoyed The Shadow Queen. The world-building was great, the plot followed the original fairytale closely enough, yet still had a healthy dose of uniqueness. The characters were great. The magic system was interesting. And of course, there were dragons so, #winningatlife. This is the first book in a series of companion novels C.J. Redwine will be writing so I’m excited to see which fairytale we’ll be following next. This particular story was tied up at the end and I was very satisfied with the ending. Can’t wait for more!
Because I love you guys so much, I’ve created a Shadow Queen bookmark you can download for free! Enjoy!
Have you read this book yet? What did you think of the magic system? What was your favorite aspect? (Please say the dragon people!) Did the romance give you feels? What were your thoughts on the telepathy? Do you like seeing this in books or are you like me who finds it a bit cheesy?