I finished this novel, The Shadow Queen, yesterday! It’s about a Queen, Lorelai, whose kingdom has been taken from her by the evil enchantress Irina, and it’s a retelling of the classic Snow White. I’m familiar with Ms. Redwine’s work: I’ve read Defiance, and although I don’t really remember the story very well, I remember thinking that it was pretty good. I’m fairly quick at reading, but the problem is that I rarely remember the story afterwards. On the bright side, I can reread almost anything at any time!
Anyways, back to the novel. Lorelai is a total kick-butt heroine who can perform all manners of parkour and has powerful magical abilities. She’s currently in hiding, along with her captain of the guard and her younger brother, Leo– who is adorable and charismatic and full of life. He’s probably my favorite character in the entire book, and he has a lot of dialogue and a lot of significance in her life. Lorelai does everything she can to protect Leo… and of course, this makes it all the more heartbreaking when he dies. I actually really loved his death scene, though– it was totally unexpected. In fact, I kept waiting for Redwine to resurrect him later on in the story, but nope, Leo’s as dead as my hopes and dreams. His death also gives Lorelai a lot of motivation and helps the story move along; she initially plans to trap Irina in a long con, but after Irina kills her little brother, the whole situation becomes ten thousand times more personally than it was before.
Kol, the King of Dragons and the Country of Eldr, was also an interesting character. When I realized that he was the “huntsman,” I figured that he’d fall in love with Lorelai’s looks as soon as he saw her. Their love, however, runs deeper. Lorelai and Kol end up with a telepathic bond after Lorelai uses her magic on him, which allows for them to speak to each other through their thoughts and also to read one another’s thoughts, which can get understandably awkward during the story. It’s a great mechanic, though, because as the book mentions, they both learn the deeper things about each other before learning the surface, first-date type material. Kol realizes the extent to which Lorelai’s grief over the death of her family and her desire to make Ravenspire a prosperous and beautiful kingdom once again, and Lorelai learns of Kol’s motivations, his insecurities, and his hopes and dreams. She realizes that Kol is an honorable man because she finds that he genuinely is willing to die for the sake of his people, which conflicts with her earlier conceptions of this aloof and evil predator who helped the Queen kill her younger brother. They have a fun dynamic.
The world building was pretty cool. We’re introduced to a lot of different kingdoms: Eldr, that of the dragons who are being attacked by ogres, and Ravenspire, who is suffering a famine and being run by a tyrant. We even get cameos from wealthy neighboring kingdoms and the lands that the ogres came from, which I think is called Ville de Lume or something.
Character building was also cool. Lorelai is described as beautiful, but Redwine doesn’t make it one of her significant traits. Also, I like that Lorelai has black hair. I’m really tired of YA heroines being blonde-and-blue-eyed, which is a really boring, repetitive theme in most books for kids our age. You’ll find that I try to read books with heroines that don’t have blonde hair and blue eyes.
Overall, I think that the book was okay. It was a fun read to pass the time, but it certainly wasn’t anything amazing. There were many times that I got distracted, but I ultimately ended up finishing the story. I guess I was a bit disappointed because the summary made it seem like Lorelai might possibly end up becoming an evil queen herself, and I always love a good story about the origins of a villain, but she becomes good and kind and just. Oh well.