Title: The Shadow Queen
Author: C.J. Redwine
Recent Release Date: February 16, 2016
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.
Review: The Shadow Queen may be a Snow White retelling, but it is a completely new story that stands on its own. The basic elements of the classic fairy tale are present, but so much has been added that it's far from a simple retelling. There are dragon people. There is an ogre war. The magic system is very cool and inspired by the well-known imagery of the heart in the classic story.
I am a huge fan of Fantasy YA and I love how prominent it is becoming, but as more is made tropes definitely seem to be recurring. This is another story of a princess from a fallen kingdom who must live a simple life and train until the most opportune moment comes when she can attempt to take back her rule. I've read a lot of these recently, but they are all unique. They take different twists and turns in their storytelling.
Lorelai has a magical psychic link to a gyrfalcon named Sasha. I loves Sasha's role in the story. She's a hot headed predator with some sass.
I really enjoyed the character of Leo and wanted to see more of him. Early on I was shipping Leo and Trugg.
The magic is such a big part of this novel. The villain's magic is super creepy. I liked how the hearts of everything come into play. The magic is described so well that you really get a grasp on it. And at some points, the imagery is very strong and goosebump-creating.
Irina is a great villain. It's nice seeing her perspective and at least understanding where she is coming from, if not sympathizing with her.
I give this book a 5/5. I highly recommend it. Definitely one of the great YA Fantasy novels out there now. The writing is wonderful. The worldbuilding is magical. The characters tug at your heart.