BOOK REPORT for The Shadow Queen (Ravenspire #1) by C.J. Redwine

Cover Story: Poison Apple

BFF Charm: Eventually

Swoonworthy Scale: 6

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Talky Talk: Retelling

Bonus Factor: Coach Taylor Award

Anti-Bonus Factor: Royal Names

Relationship Status: Rooting for You

 ShadowQueen-redwine

Cover Story: Poison Apple

If you didn’t know this was a “Snow White” retelling before looking at this book, I think the black apple dripping black who-knows-what on the cover might be a pretty good hint at what’s inside. (Either that, or this is a story about a world in which an apple a day doesn’t keep the doctor away. Or one about special genetically engineered fruit.)

The Deal:

When Lorelai was young, she had it all. Loving mother, doting father, adorable little brother—and an entire kingdom that loved her, their princess. But when her mother died, her father remarried, and her stepmother turned out to be a literal witch, Lorelai lost everything.

But Lorelai’s not one to give up easily, and spends nearly a decade trying to build up enough strength (both physical and magical) and support to undermine her stepmother’s rule. It’s not until she meets the young king from a neighboring nation (who also happens to be able to shapeshift into a dragon) that she realizes the time has finally come to make her move, even if it means putting her life on the line.

BFF Charm: Eventually

Lorelai is an interesting young woman. Born into a life of luxury, it would have been understandable if she’d turned out to be a spoiled brat. But having your whole world turned upside down can change a person, and—thankfully—it changed Lorelai into a strong, willful, dedicated individual. I’d totally enjoy being friends with her, but I just don’t think she has time for that right now, and not being a magical person and/or a trained fighter, I think I’d just be in the way.

Swoonworthy Scale: 6

When Lorelai and her love interest in the book first meet, she saves his life. The next time they meet, he’s trying to kill her, through no real fault of his own. One might think the swoon would be lowered because of this, but Lorelai doesn’t like to give up on people, no matter what. (And the fact that the two become telepathically linked leads to some pretty grin-inducing moments, at least on the reader’s part; it was pretty mortifying for Lorelai and her gent.)

Talky Talk: Retelling

Like I mentioned above, The Shadow Queen is a “Snow White” retelling. It follows the basic plot faithfully: evil magical queen hunts step-daughter/rightful princess with the help of a huntsman with a heart of gold (and a soft spot for the princess). Unlike some versions of the tale, however, the princess in The Shadow Queen needs very little help in her quest to get back the throne—she’s as powerful, if not more so, than the evil queen. It’s awesome to read this kind of retelling, one that gives the main character much more to do than swoon and wait to be rescued, and I applaud C.J. Redwine for going this route.

That said, it took me a while to get into the story. The start of the novel fell a little flat, and the worldbuilding throughout the book was often more tell than show. But as the action ramped up, so did my engagement with the characters and the overarching plot.

Bonus Factor: Coach Taylor Award

Lorelai is saved from her stepmother’s wrath by loyal palace guard Gabril, who, over the years, becomes both father figure and teacher to Lorelai. He’s a genuinely terrific guy, who’s both adorably protective and also able to dole out tough love when it’s needed.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Royal Names

Now, I realize that royalty don’t have the most common of names. (Take, for example, England’s Prince William Arthur Philip Louis, Duke of Cambridge.) But the names of the royalty in The Shadow Queen were, I feel, more difficult than necessary. Lorelai’s full name is Lorelai Rosalinde Tatiyana Diederich, and another character’s is Kolvanismir Eilertolvanisk Arsenyevnek.

Casting Call:

Allison Miller as Lorelai

Relationship Status: Rooting for You

Although our date got off to a bit of a rocky start, Book, we eventually warmed up to each other, and I’d say I had a pretty good time. Maybe not “more than friends” good, but good nonetheless. Regardless, I’m totally rooting for you, and hope for an invite to the castle once all is said and done.

The Shadow Queen is available now.

Mandy lives in Austin, TX, where she's a technical writer by day and a pop culture junkie by night. When she's not ensconced in a book for Forever Young Adult, Mandy can be found swooning over superheroes, dreaming of The Doctor and grinning at GIFs.