Interesting World Building But Meh On Characters: The Shadow Queen by CJ Redwine

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.

Source: GoodReads

I was sort of scared about reading this one.  Oh, don’t get me wrong I’m always game for a Snow White retelling,but after seeing some of my friends reviews for this one I figured it was going to be a disappointed.  It was…sort of…but I didn’t exactly hate Shadow Queen.  There were parts of it, that I really enjoyed.

I was actually surprised with how much I didn’t find this to be offensive, because usually I find myself to be on the harsher side when it comes to books.

I’ll talk about what really worked for me in this one the world building.  Particularly I liked the use of magic and the dragon shifting thing did not bother me as much as it could’ve.  Sure, the thing with heart magic was a slight rift off of Once Upon a Time, but I thought Redwine made it enough of her own where it wasn’t a complete ripoff.  In fact, I liked the nuances that were involved in casting spells and such.  Of course, Redwine used faux fantasy language which is always a pet peeve of mine, but it’s not enough to completely derail my feelings of a book.  Rather, it’s just something I roll my eyes at (sorry, high fantasy authors I do it anytime I read high fantasy).

As far as retellings go, it is does rely on the source material.  Snow White, Evil Queen, Huntsman/Prince (which is becoming a bit of a retelling cliche to combine them),  though there are no seven dwarfs, and no suffocating corsets.  The thing with the apples is also handled differently, but at its core (ha, ha, bad pun) this is a Snow White story and if anything is really different it is more or less that Redwine made Snow White a sort of Robin Hood figure-but again, this was already sort of seen already on Once Upon a Time (I’m sure it’s in some other Snow White retelling as well, this is just the first one on top of my head because of the heart magic thing).  It’s not bad per say, and it was an interesting quick read (and I’m pretty sure a standalone, which is something I haven’t seen in awhile in YA)  it’s just not that gripping of a read.

And I blame it partially on the characters.  The two main leads were nice…but I didn’t feel any romantic tension between them and throughout the story I just felt distant from them.  I didn’t even really feel for one character when she had to deal with a death.  Maybe it’s because the character that died barely had any impact on the story, but I really couldn’t give a rat’s ass and it seemed like she got over the death sort of quickly.

The Evil Queen character was interesting enough, but I thought that she could’ve been more formed especially her relationship with her henchman.  That plot twist came a little bit out of nowhere to me.  And I wish that her health and its condition were explained as well.  I think I sort of have an idea of why she was in the condition she was, but it was one of those things I would’ve liked a better explanation for.

So, I did end up liking Shadow Queen.  It was a decent retelling, but it had it’s issues and it’s probably a book I’m not going to be prone to remembering in the long run.

Overall Rating: A B-.

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