The Shadow Queen
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher, Scholastic!
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.
Okay, so this book completely saved me from a reading slump! I think i've been burning myself out recently reading so much, and I was in a near reading slump but this book saved me from falling in to a horrible reading slump, because I couldn't stop reading it. I had a busy couple of days around my birthday and didn't have time to read, and the entire time I was thinking about this book and getting back to it and I ended up reading it in two sittings, it was just so easy to sit there and read and read and read!
I know it's a fairy tale retelling but the prologue had such a distinct fairy tale quality to it, the way it's worded and written it's like reading a fairy tale out of an old book of fairy tales, if that makes sense! It's like the fairy tales of old! I could imagine the narrative being similar to Beauty and the Beast, with the stained glass window bit at the beginning...that's what I mean about this prologue it's like that! I liked that we saw how it all started through this fairy tale vibey prologue rather than through Lorelai's memories. It really drew me in! The action in it, the way it was written, the sense of foreboding until the inevitable happened...it completely hooks you!
This book is a fairy tale retelling and it's the best one I've read in a long time. Fans of Once Upon a Time are going to love it because Irina reminded me a little bit of Regina at points, and Lorelai reminded me of bandit Snow! The book has so many original quirks to an old story and it was so much fun spotting the original fairy tale themes, with the authors own twist on them! The book was so cinematically written as well, I could totally picture it up on the big or little screen! And as cinematic as it was, it was also incredibly atmospheric, and the world was so vivid.
I LOVED the world of the book, it was original, and so vividly written that you got lost in it as much as in the story. I loved hearing about the other kingdoms, some of which I'm sure we'll be seeing in more detail in the other books, which I'm SO excited for! Anyway, the world. It's completely dripping in magic, and imagination. It's one of those times, when you're reading and you're like...I would totally live here. Minus the Evil Queen and everything, but you get what I'm saying! We got to see two kingdoms, although one in less detail than the other, and both kingdoms where vividly created, and where different to each other. The author has done an amazing job building up this world, and leaving you excited to explore other parts of it. There where two kingdoms mentioned a lot in this book, and I'm thinking we're going to one of those next!
In the book, we get three POV's, Lorelai's, Kol's and Irina's. Lorelai being the fugitive Princess and Kol the dragon shifting huntsman who also happens to be royalty. Irina, is the evil queen, obviously. I liked how we got three POV's, and that each one was from a character who has the highest investment in the events of the book, has the most to lose, and has a lot to fight for. Because of this, each POV was necessary and added to the story, filling in blanks that would have been in the narrative if we'd only had one narrator.
Each of the narratives has it's own distinctive voice, and Lorelai and Kol's where particularly entertaining! You have Lorelai who's been preparing her whole life to take back her Kingdom, and then Kol who actually never thought he'd have to have anything to do with the throne and was a bit of a play boy and never actually did anything seriously. Both their kingdoms are in danger, and each has the solution for the other. Irina in contrast, has her kingdom, but she's basically butt hurt because Arlen married her younger sister instead of her, and she thinks she has a right to the kingdom, and everyone's betrayed her and doesn't really care about her kingdom or anyone but herself. They made for some interesting contrasts in their narratives, as each character was different from the other. Kol helped us understand what was going on with the Queen in some scenes, and what was going on with him when things went wrong, as well as keeping up the narrative when Lorelai was out for the count! Lorelai's narrative was just perfect, she really helped us to understand how the magic in the world of the book works. The Queen's POV was just chilling and smacked of crazy.
The magic in the world of this book was unlike anything I had read before. It's complex, without being too complicated to understand, the author has got the balance just right and the magic intrigues me so much, as does the wording used for it! It's just so original, and I loved the emphasis on hearts! It fit so well with Snow White and the Evil Queen.
I completely and utterly loved Lorelai, she's snarky, she's determined to help her people any way she can, even if it's just stealing food for villagers for now while she works up to facing Irina. She doesn't back down, she's perfectly capable of taking care of herself, making her own decisions, and she's very good at coming up with strategies to fight. I liked how she didn't rush in to anything without planning first, she was very intelligent and even though she was scared about facing Irina and wasn't sure she was ready...she was still determined to do it. She was a character you could really root for, she wasn't helpless or relying on Kol, she relied on herself. In fact it made me chuckle the pure amount of times she had to save Kol!
Kol was interesting for me because he's always felt like he's a disappointment to his father, so he never bothers trying to surpass his older brothers achievements or his father's expectations. Despite his partying facade, he's actually very intelligent, and he's loyal to his friends and his people. He would do anything to save his kingdom, but at the same time, he refuses to kill Lorelai because she saved his life. He has honour. I really liked Kol, I thought he was kind of the perfect match for Lorelai!
Irina....she's everything you really need in an evil Queen, and like I said, she reminds me a bit of Regina from Once Upon A Time..but with a twist. I wanted to find a redeeming quality for her, and end up actually understanding her and feeling for her but I just didn't. I get it, she feels like everyone betrayed her and she feels like she's taken the life she deserves, but I just didn't buy her logic. She really is a nasty piece of work, and her reasoning is just crazy!
Each of our main characters is perfectly written and brought to life, they're complex with a range of different motivations all working together to power their choices in the story. Besides these three, there's a whole cast of equally well written and brought to life, lesser characters, who add to the story as well. Honestly there where so many brilliant characters, but I think one of my favourites was Leo, he was hilarious right from the start! Yeah he joked around a lot, but he could be serious when he needed to be, he liked making up names for their group, he was so supportive of his sister even when he was teasing her! He was laid back compared to Lorelai and they really worked well together. I also liked Gabril, he's been like a father to the two of them, and he made for some hilarious scenes with Kol! Like when he was threatening Kol and staring him down and was like "I'll be the threat you never saw coming", it cracked me up!
Kols friends Jyn and Trugg where two of my other favourite characters, they where great companions for Kol andTrugg in particular had me laughing out loud! The dynamics between the three of them where perfect and I loved reading their scenes.
Lorelai and Kols first meeting was perfect for the two of them, and it had me laughing so much. I just loved how Kol had to be saved by her, and then more times after that! I loved their relationship, she's always rescuing him, he supports her, and they work so well together helping and supporting each other to do what they need to do to save their kingdoms and I just felt like they where equals. I loved watching the romance build up over the course of the book, and there where funny scenes, and cute scenes and it was so perfectly done!
The plot was very well done, it had the right blend of action and romance, it kept you reading and lost in the story and what was going on. There where plot twists that kept you on your toes as you didn't see them coming, and there was one completely heartbreaking plot twist, and it really got me in the feels. I actually spent a few chapters not believing it had happened until I had full confirmation and I was so heartbroken! Even then I kept thinking there would be same way to reverse it, right up until the end!
There are so many twisted fairy tale elements, the rotting apples to enchant people, Snow White's affinity with animals comes out in Lorelai's relationship with Sasha the Gyrfalcon (who is just as hilarious and protective as Gabril!), the Huntsman had a rather original and brilliant twist in Kol and there was the icon heart scene, then there was the iconic wakey wakey kiss scene too! I squealed a little bit at all the elements I recognised, and I loved seeing how the author was going to twist them!
The Shadow Queen is fast paced without being rushed and is packed full of action, romance and humour, not to mention originality. It features a world so vivid that you can get lost in it for hours, and a story that has you hooked from the first magical page. Your imagination is awakened as you travel throughout the kingdom, and learn all about the dragon shifters and the magic of the world. There's a whole host of brilliantly written and complex characters that you love and root for, or root against in some cases. It's a story that you never want to end, but it does, and it ends perfectly and is wrapped up perfectly! It's one of those books you'll re-read again and again, and I'm excited to see what the author is going to do with other fairy tales in the other books!