“Snow White” forms the loose foundation for this tale of a princess who has lost her kingdom to her wicked stepmother.
Lorelai escaped when Irina killed her family and took over Ravenspire. Both Lorelai and Irina are magic-working mardushkas, but Irina is both strong and evil, using her talents to squeeze the kingdom for power and deliberately leaving her citizens to starve. Meanwhile, in nearby Eldr, populated by beings who can shift shape and become dragons, Kol suddenly becomes king when ogres invade. He turns to Irina for help, unaware that she is evil. Lorelai, who has been hiding, presumed dead, for years, meets Kol and the two form an alliance, despite Kol’s blood oath to kill her for Irina’s aid. The two sides fight back and forth as a predictable fairy-tale romance blossoms between them. Redwine includes some nicely imagined scenes, especially Irina’s use of poisoned apples and Lorelai’s telepathic pet gyrfalcon, which becomes perhaps the most interesting character in the book, with its bird’s worldview: “Kill overgrown lizard. Eat the eyes, tear out the heart,” it declares, seeing a dragon. The story drags when Redwine repeats herself, telling readers numerous times that if Lorelai uses magic, it will reveal her to Irina. For the most part, the story is a full-bore fantasy fairy tale with magic slung around with abandon and battles aplenty.
Undemanding fantasy fun. (Fantasy. 12-18)