The Shadow Queen Review: A Fantastical Retelling That Fell Flat

23299513Lorelai 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.

 

“You don’t go into battle because you’re sure of victory. You go into battle because it’s the right thing to do.”

Mirror, mirror, on the wall…what’s the best Snow White retelling of them all? Not this one, I hate to say. But as I have yet to read many Snow White retelling at all, this one would definitely rank pretty high on the list!

The book opens right up into the action with Princess Lorelai’s stepmother Irina seizing control of the kingdom, mind controlling the king and all his guard and when Lorelai tries to fight back…killing the king and sending the poor princess into hiding. But despite pulling off this impressive feat with powerful magic, the kingdom might not be hers to keep–Lorelai has magic too, and she’s just biding her time until she can come back and take her rightful kingdom.

Right away the book pulled at my heart with the sweet relationship between Lorelai, her younger brother Leo who her dying father told her to protect, and their friend/father figure/helper/protector. The way that the three of them were determined to fight for their kingdom when they could so easily have just given it up to Irina, the evil queen, was so admirable, as was the character growth and pain they went through.

On the other hand we have Prince Kol, “the huntsman.” I was struck right away by his plight in being the second best, second born son, and was devastated when he was forced to grow up right away and take responsibility for the war that was ravaging his kingdom. I also really loved the clear love he felt for his sister and his friends.

However…the relationship between Lorelai and Kol felt forced and flat to me. It felt a lot like instalove–I’m not even really sure how much time they passed together and then they were falling in love? And I’m not really sure what they saw in each other? I’m a hopeless romantic and I didn’t feel anything during the romantic scenes.

What bothered me the most about this book was that I feel like Redwine didn’t do a really good job of worldbuilding. Princess Lorelai and her stepmother Queen Irina are these magic witch people called mardushkas, and I honestly have no idea what their magic really does. I guess their magic is strong enough to take on a fleet of ogres that are devastating a land and even dragons can’t stop, literally move mountains, and take control of someone’s mind and heart. So my question is…what can they not do? And why the heck is anyone in this world even in any kingdom who isn’t a mardushka ruling? How come the mardushkas haven’t taken control of the whole world???

The mardushkas also use these strange spells that, as far as I could tell, are an incantation in italics followed by a statement where you can say basically anything in the world that you want (like moving mountains) and it’ll come true? Also if Lorelai uses magic on anything that Irina has used magic on (which is basically everything), the queen will come and kill her, so she basically can’t practice her magic on anything, but she somehow knows exactly how to use it? Also how did she ever learn all those incantations if Irina never taught her?

The pacing of this book also felt really slow to me. I don’t know, I just got…bored. I think that might be partially because I was so confused by all the world building and I had no idea what was going on so I wasn’t really invested in the story and was kind of going through the motions of reading it instead of being really engrossed in it!

3 out of 5 enchanted stars

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10 thoughts on “The Shadow Queen Review: A Fantastical Retelling That Fell Flat

  1. acquadimore says:

    I agree. The fairytale aspects were interesting but the worldbuilding was lacking. I read it when it was released (so, a while ago) and I remember not being convinced by the romance as well – I don’t know if I thought it was instalove at the time, but I remember that it felt forced. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Cailin @ Rose Petal Pages says:

    This is a great review! I was really interested in the book when it first came out but now that time has passed I’m not really interested in reading it, lol. And it bothers me in magic systems where there are these super powerful characters or a group of people and they’re not ruling over everyone else?? Like why and how because in any world the most powerful people usually come out on top.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Amanda says:

    I was really interested this book, but I picked it up last month and I felt kind of bored and honestly disappointed. I didn’t finish it, for the reasons that you mentioned. It felt a little slow to me, and the magic system didn’t feel fleshed out enough. Nice review!

    Liked by 1 person

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