The Shadow Queen – C.J. Redwine

the shadow queen goodreads coverLorelai 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.

Damn that is a long blurb. Maybe a touch too long. All you really need to get interested in this book is the cover lines “Destroy the dark. Take the throne.”  Do you really need 3 decent sized paragraphs? Really? I mean yes I like that it tells us a decent amount about it so that’s cool. But now, on to the book.

It read like a middle grade which was kinda frustrating, one of the last lines before the epilogue is “And she would because she promised” I don’t know about you but that just seems like a bit of a ridiculous thing to write. We already know that she is going to because that is her character and I as a reader certainly knew that she was going to do it because why the hell wouldn’t she. This is one of the things that made me think that it was a middle grade book. Frankly I wouldn’t expect to find it in a YA.

I liked the characters, Lorelai was a badass, Gabril was a bamf and Leo was a cutie. Kol seemed a bit lost but that was expected after losing his whole family. And Irina was a self-serving bitch, which I liked. She was unapologetic about who she was and what she wanted and I live for that – even in a villain.  But back to Leo. I had a lot of problems with this character. First of all why is his name Leo? There is no way that their parents would have Lorelai and then when Leo came along go “You know what? Let’s go for something a bit more fun, mix things up a bit.” There is no way that would happen. They would name him something equally as royal, like Leopold and maybe that is what Leo is short for but nowhere in the book does it state his name is anything other than Leo, so I doubt that it is actually Leopold. My other issue with Leo is how unnecessary his death was. His character could have had the exact same effect alive, which meant that Redwine was just looking for an excuse to create a bit of drama. He literally would have been a motivator for her whether he was alive or dead. Maybe he could have fallen into a bad coma at most and it would have had the same effect. Leo was a cutie and there is no way that he deserved to die. He just wanted the best for everyone. Maybe I’m just a touched biased? Probably.

Another reason why I read this as a middle grade: aside from the kissing and implied sex there was literally nothing to say otherwise. Also, Lorelai was meant to be 19 but that did not come across in the slightest to me. She read as someone who was maybe 16 at the oldest and with what she had gone through she should have read as someone who was about 40. Sure she had the wisdom of maybe a 20 year old but it just felt ridiculous as like I said, I kept having to remind myself that she wasn’t 16. This is why I found her romance with Kol so ridiculous. No 16 year old would fall in love that quickly – she herself also said that she has only known him for 3 weeks so there is no way that they could be in love.

Let’s come back to that time frame. That time frame just seems a bit out. Later on in the book she says that it has been weeks which implies about 7 or 8 to me, so like when she says 3 I was a bit shocked. But at the same time 3 weeks seems too long so again I am confused. There were a lot of things in this book that kind of went back on what was said earlier.

Like, when Lorelai states that it causes her no effort to perform magic if the heart is willing, she then later says that the toll of magic was having an effect even though the hearts had been willing. So which is it?? Option one or two?? I need answers, this makes no sense and I think that I may have found my first plot hole ever – yay me? – which isn’t a good thing cause I really wanted to enjoy this book and now that I have discovered at least one plot hole I can’t, really.

Another thing! This really got me. Why wouldn’t Gabril tell Lorelai and Leo about his family? It just makes no sense because surely he would want to talk about them and he would know that Lorelai and Leo wouldn’t mind talking about them. I mean heck they may even try to help him see them which could only be a win win situation. Also, at the end when Lorelai went to save them in the castle at the end why did she call them her family – she had never even met them and the first time she had heard about them was only a few weeks prior so like what’s up with that. Also, where were they when the final showdown happened and Lorelai did what she could have done years ago because tbh that was a bit of a copout on Lorelai’s part. I mean death by lava? That sounds like a freak accident not a serious way of taking out your archnemesis who needs to face retribution for everything she has done. Not that I don’t hate a bit of lava, I just wish that it had been described a bit better and had not been used to take out Irina. Lava doesn’t deserve that kind of treatment.

Overall I think that this book was cute read that stuck to the original story pretty well – sans the seven dwarfs (although that would have been fun) – and introduced some other fairytale characters that were fun and original. I also liked how Lorelai fought for herself and stood up for what she believed in. She knew what she was capable of and didn’t let anyone else’s limitation limit her. From this point it was very much a feminist novel, I don’t necessarily know if it passes the Bechdel test but books have a hard time doing that so it can be excused on that front. Overall it was a good read and I would recommend it, even though this review was pretty much just complaints.

It gets 4/5 stars because it was a good book that was cute, but also frustrating. I don’t know if I want to read the next book in the series, but if I happen to find it in my bookcase one day then I can’t say that I won’t read it.



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