Hope you’re all well
This week I’m going to talk about a book I read a very long time ago.
The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine is a YA High fantasy novel that follows Lorelai, the Crown princess of Ravenspire who’s throne was stolen from her when her evil step mother, Irina, killed her father, the king and began to poison the land with her terrible magic. In a battle between light and dark Lorelai must use her own magic to defeat the dragon-shifting huntsman the Shadow Queen has sent for her and take back the kingdom that always truly belonged to her. Things get difficult, of course when the princess realises that the half man, half beast chasing her is actually a prince, whose mind is being held captive under the wicked Irina’s spell and maybe might not be such a bad guy after all.
This story is a retelling of the childhood classic Snow White and because of that there are some very obvious parallels to the fairytale. But wait, don’t be put off by this and don’t presume that you already know what is going to happen. Because this book is a rollercoaster.
Right from the beginning we are shoved into a fast-paced plot with vivid language that doesn’t give you a second to breathe. The world-building in this book is one of it’s biggest strengths and I think it all comes down to Redwine’s attention to the history of the land and people. She creates culture, folklore and a backstory- all of which contribute to create a society of people that feel life like. My only qualm about the plot and how it’s played out is that although at the start the author goes into a lot of detail about the world’s past- thats really it. I wanted to know more about the universe that this book was set in and I wanted a more consistent approach to the background of what was going on, instead of it all being at the start.
The characters in The Shadow Queen are the stars of the show that is this story. Gushing with detail and depth, each member of the book’s cast brings something different to the table. Redwine, somehow, makes you love or hate her characters as though they are real people you know. There is a deep sense of immersion that we gain through the author’s skilful use of description. The romance in this book is perfectly salty and sweet too. However there were some footfalls at times regarding Lorelai’s family and her past. Once again Redwine talks a lot about whats going on in the present tense regarding characters but rarely gives us details about their pasts- all of which would help to flush out the elephants in the room that are, at times, very easy to spot in The Shadow Queen.
Perhaps my favourite element of the story is Lorelai. These days too many authors are writing princesses in High Fantasy novels as whiny and unnecessarily cold. Lorelai is different, she shows warmth and leadership but she is also a badass and moves through her world knowing what she wants. Her power as an enchantress and the presentation of magic in this book in general must be noted. Redwine in The Shadow Queen has created a magic system that feels fresh, unique and sometimes even plausible. Instead of being able to just shoot fireballs from your hands and then get tired after cough cough, Throne Of Glass, users of magic in Lorelai’s world must ask the elements or the things they are commanding if they can wielded by the magician. For example, if the princess wants to conjure spears of ice from the river she must ask it first and in a beautiful way it becomes personified- it may refuse or argue back if she asks for too much. There is certainly an elegance to magic that isn’t so infinite or unfeasibly strong.
I would recommend this book if you are really into fantasy novels but if not and your simply thinking of dabbling in the genre there are so many other better options cough, cough ACOTAR.
I give this book a 3 out of 5 stars.
Keep on reading!
And thanks again Beth