I received this book for free from ARC Tour in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Balzer + Bray on February 16th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Source: ARC Tour
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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.
Every once in awhile I go through genre spurts. Right now I seem to be all about fantasy. The Shadow Queen arrived on my doorstep fresh off finishing The Lunar Chronicles, another retelling series. I was a little apprehensive at first, to read something so similar to the book I read before. But I jumped right in and found a unique retelling with lots of adventure!
Our main character is Lorelai, a princess who escapes the evil clutches of her step-mother (and aunt) who tried to kill her as a child. She has gone into hiding with her brother and guard over the past many years, secretly training to use her magic with the hopes of someday defeating the wicked queen and saving her land. Desperate to find the missing princess, the queen takes advantage of a prince from a nearby land who is searching for help for his own kingdom. All he has to do is bring her the heart of the princess. Sounds exactly like what you would expect from a Snow White retelling, yes? My knowledge of the original story is pretty vague, except for the ‘happily ever after’ Disney version I saw as a kid. I definitely found some really interesting and dark parallels with some of the classic Snow White points – poison apples, a wicked queen, a huntsman. I find that pretty exciting to be honest. Call it nostalgia. But some of the differences were great as well.
One of the biggest surprises for me was that our Prince, Kol, is a Draconi, meaning he can turn into a dragon. It was a twist that added entirely different fantasy elements I didn’t expect. How this allowed him to be manipulated by the queen was some of my favorite aspects that made this tale all its own. Of course Lorelai is nothing at all what Kol expected, or what I expected either for that matter. She was wildly fierce with a bit of a reckless side. She thought quick on her feet and had the persona of a true queen, one who is selfless with true heart. She had the utmost faith in those she cared about, even Kol who wasn’t always someone to be trusted. I adored Lorelai’s relationships with her brother, the guard, and Kol. They were well established and made her so relatable as a character.
Some of my favorite chapters were from the perspective of the evil queen. I liked seeing how her wicked mind worked and what her reasons were for some of the things she did. And she did some pretty awful and dark things to further her own cause. She was twisted and I liked it!
I honestly can’t pinpoint anything I didn’t like about this novel, though I can say I found some of the magic aspects a little confusing. I’m purely rating this one on how the book made me feel on a whole. I think fans of retellings will be interested with this new take on an old tale. I absolutely look forward to what the next novel in the series can bring to the table from this world!