Monday, January 4, 2016

Book Review: The Shadow Queen (Ravenspire #1)

Release Date: February 16, 2016
Author: C. J. Redwine
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Length: 400 pages
Source: eGalley via Edelweiss

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.



Protagonists: This book is told from at least three different third person points of view. but for the most part it's told from the point of view of Lorelai and Kol. Lorelai is the princess of Ravenspire forced to flee after a failed attempt to show her kingdom the cruelty of her step-mother, Irina. At the beginning of the book Lorelai is training to try and grow her magic enough to face Irina, she starts off very serious and a bit timid, but as the story continues she starts to come out of her shell and become more and more confident. Kol on the other hand has always been the ne'er-do-well second prince, but after a tragedy forces to crown of his kingdom on his head he has find a way to save his people, even if that means making a deal with the devil. Both these characters are very fleshed out, and have great character arcs over the course of this book.

Romance: I was really surprised at how well the romance was written. Not necessarily because I doubted the skill of the author, but more because this is in many senses a standalone, and normally standalones tend to speed up the romance so that when the characters say "I love you" it doesn't seem forced or rushed (ironically it rarely works) in this book though, had the characters said "I love you" to each other, regardless of the fairly light amount of romance, or maybe because of it, I would have felt that they earned it, but these characters keep their heads and take a more realistic view of their romance. Which, of course, I really enjoyed.

World-Building: So going into this I expected a full on fairy-tale retelling, however while this is undeniably a Snow White retelling, other than a few moments that mirrored the original tale, and a few things that eluded to the story, this wasn't a paint by numbers retelling which I found very refreshing. I think the only bad thing I have to say about the world-building in this book was that not long after the book started we were treated to some intense info-dumping that was kind of hard to grasp at first but as the book went on things made more and more sense.

Predictability: So I have to say that since I was expecting a closer retelling to the Snow White tale there wasn't all that much that I was able to predict about this book. Because of that I was able to experience some crazy twists, thing that made me yell, cry, jump for joy, etc. just, not usually all at the same time. There were quite a lot of the usual things that I was able to predict. The bigger picture, YA formula type of stuff, but the more in depth detailed points were what really made this adventure great.

Ending: You know how in a lot of book to movie adaptations they sometimes add in a battle scene to appeal to a larger audience, well, if this were to ever be made into a movie they wouldn't have to do that. There's a fantastic battle full of action and everything Hollywood movie producers would want from a final confrontation. That's just the first half, the second more intense half of the battle was just perfect, it made me genuinely worried for some of the more important characters in this book. Then there's the epilogue, and while the epilogue didn't focus on what I thought it would, I was happy about that, it felt more real and while there are a few things not completely tied up by the end of this book, there's more than enough to make for a satisfying conclusion to this story.


So this was a very hard book to rate, there was a large part of me saying that this should get five stars, but unfortunately there was a larger part that couldn't get over the info-dumping near the beginning of this book. Regardless this is a fantastic fantasy adventure and I cannot wait to see what fairy-tale this author decides to tackle in this world next!


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