Friday, June 10, 2016

Review ~ "The Shadow Queen" by C.J. Redwine

The Shadow Queen (Ravenspire, #1)Title: "The Shadow Queen"
Series: Ravenspire, #1
Author: C.J. Redwine

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Published: February 16, 2016
Publisher: Balzar + Bray
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling
Pages: 387
Format: Hardcover
Source: MeL Cat

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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.

I loved C.J. Redwine's first series, the Defiance trilogy, even though I still need to read the last book (oops!). And I had a feeling that I'd really enjoy this one too. And, fortunately, I was right! 

The Shadow Queen starts off with Lorelai and Leo's (her brother) mother dying. Faithful to the story, their father soon remarries (she also happens to be their aunt, which is pretty important to the story). Of course she ends up being wicked and tries to control everyone. However, Lorelai not affected by her powers and confronts Irina. Angered, Irina unleashes her power and attacks Lorelai. She and Leo are able to escape, unfortunately her father is killed by their stepmother. Irina thinks that her stepchildren at dead, only to find out years later that they are still alive and in hiding.

I really liked how the huntsman wasn't some loner hunter that lived in the outskirts of the kingdom. He was a (recently crowned) young king from a neighboring kingdom who was willing to risk his life to save his people. He was never expecting to become a king, as he was always the troublemaker. You could see the huge personality change in him as he had to become serious and dependable immediately. His naivety was obvious in trusting Irina to help save his kingdom. Why would you trust an evil queen whose subjects are starving and dying? Maybe news doesn't travel well?

Lorelai reminded me so much of Rachel, from the author's Defiance trilogy. They are both strong, smart, determined, passionate, and feel an intense duty to do what is right. Lorelai knew that the road to overthrowing Irina would be long and bumpy, but she knew it would be worth it in the end and did all she could to save those she cared about. She wasn't afraid to push herself to the extreme and learn to trust her powers. She had Leo, her hilarious little brother, and Gabril, one of her father's soldiers, backing her the entire way.

So many aspects of the book reminded me of Snow White and the Huntsman, especially Irina. Both Irina and Ravenna are similar in appearance: incredibly beautiful with blonde hair and blue eyes. They're also similar with their actions in their stories. Both marry a king to gain power over a large kingdom, control their subjects through force, steal people's life force to maintain they're beauty/power, and manipulate someone to kill her stepdaughter. But I suppose that if it's a retelling, that's not very surprising. We get to read Irina's point of view, and I always love reading a villain's side and knowing their reasoning for all the terrible things they do. It makes them seem more real.

As I said earlier, I think C.J. Redwine got a lot of her inspiration from Snow White and the Huntsman. Irina was probably the biggest similarity. The huntsman from both stories were alike, as they both had reasons to do something that made them uncomfortable, even if they came from different backgrounds. However, the Snow White's were very different. I felt that the Snow White in the movie was very weak and bland, whereas Lorelai was dynamic and powerful. The author was very true to the story, but still made it her own. Some authors change most of the fairy tale to make it theirs, but she didn't need to.

Overall, this was a very unique retelling that still stuck to the original. And I absolutely loved it. I think part of the reason I loved it so much was because I was disappointed by the previous retelling I read (Reign of Shadows). I can't wait to read the companion novel! I'm hoping we get to know more about the neighboring kingdoms!

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