On paper, THE SHADOW QUEEN proclaimed everything I love: fairy tale retellings, strong characters, magic, and castles. No matter how good a synopsis sounds, however, there is no guarantee that those elements will all work together to create a brilliant story. Thank the skies, THE SHADOW QUEEN swept past every expectation I had with wings stronger than a dragon’s.
The characters are the bleeding heart of the story (pun unintended, but happily accepted). Lorelai is determined, kind, and fierce. She is a true warrior, full of honor and an unwavering love for her suffering kingdom. What I love most about her is her strategizing. She isn’t one to leap into a dangerous situation without a plan or a confidence in her abilities. Her calculating mindset, combined with her very sincere resolve, make believing in her place as queen easy. Likewise, Kol is an equally remarkable character, and I love the dragon action tied in with him. Their relationship evolves from one of almost diplomatic respect to a deep friendship to a slow, slow romance, and it holds all the warmth and adorableness of a fairy tale with the sweet awkwardness and complexities that come with learning to trust someone in a dangerous world.
The villain, Queen Irina, is heartbreakingly realistic. Readers will see her continuously presented with chances to be merciful, to be kind, and to simply not act evil. At the end of the day, Irina is not a monster born to do bad; she is a person with power who, when presented with a choice, chooses evil, revenge, and hate. When stripped down to their hearts, Irina and Lorelai truly reveal what consequences those choices have.
As much as I adore the main characters, the secondary characters, especially Jyn, Trugg, and Sasha, are such delightful additions to the story. I laughed so many times during their dialogues. The battles scenes throughout the story are truly epic as well, often involving mountains, waterfalls, and giant trees.
C.J. Redwine’s THE SHADOW QUEEN is retelling at its finest, taking the bare bones of the original and shaking everything up to see how the story could be different. Lorelai is the kind of queen we can all hail with strength and a desire to do good as her most powerful arsenal.
-Awesome twist on Snow White
-Sassy Sasha the gyrfalcon